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Diversity, Equity
& Inclusion Series

A Discussion of Systemic Barriers within the Disability Community

Session I: Employability & Sustainability for People with Disabilities

Nov. 19, 2021
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Live on Facebook 
& Zoom

  • Facebook
  • Zoom

Please join us on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. for the kick-off session of the Training and Alumni Association's DEI series.  The topic is "Employability and Sustainability for People with Disabilities." Attorney and disability rights advocate Ollie Cantos is the keynote speaker.  This promises to be an educational, informative and provocative discussion. 

“Employability & Sustainability”


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) principles are important in recruiting, hiring and retaining people with disabilities in the workplace. We all play a vital role in creating a work environment that embraces people with disabilities. Keynote speaker, Ollie Cantos, Esq. will discuss various approaches to building bridges and fostering changes that help people with disabilities access employment opportunities and foster career development.


Disability advocates will learn how to apply goal-setting and visualization strategies to affect change in the workplace. This session will include current employment trends and a discussion of how participants can gain a deeper understanding about available resources that they can use to carry out DEIA goals in their advocacy work.

Meet the Presenter


Ollie Cantos, Esq.

Blind since birth and the son of Filipino immigrants, Olegario “Ollie” D. Cantos VII, Esq., is Chairman of the Board of Directors of RespectAbility, a national non-profit nonpartisan cross-disability organization whose mission is to fight stigmas and to advance opportunities for children and adults with all types of disabilities. He has also been a leader in the federal government since 2004 and has been active in the disability rights arena since his junior year in college in 1990. Currently, he serves in a leadership role within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, a career position he has held since 2013.


Having incorporated DEIA work into the different positions that he has held during both Republican and Democratic administrations, past positions include Staff Attorney and Director of Outreach and Education at the Disability Rights Legal Center in California, General Counsel and Director of Programs for the American Association of People with Disabilities, Special Assistant and later Special Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, Vice Chair of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, and Associate Director for Domestic Policy at the White House. 


Prior leadership posts include Vice President of the Virginia Organization of Parents of Blind Children, Legal Officer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Vice President of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Chairman of the Board for Scholarships for Eagles, President of the California Association of Blind Students and the National Association of Blind Students, and member of the boards of directors of the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, the Blind Children’s Center, Community Lodgings, the California Association to Promote the Use of Braille, the National Federation of the Blind of California, Loyola Marymount University Alumni Association, and Loyola Law School Alumni Association.


Ollie’s life story, along with how he adopted three blind triplet boys, was covered by national media outlets including National Public Radio, People Magazine, The Washingtonian Magazine, and ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir in 2017 and in 2020.


Live Zoom Meeting

Nov. 19, 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

This conversation will also be streamed live on the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities' Facebook page.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Subcommittee


  • Dr. Nicci Dowd, Chair

  • Ms. Cheryl Lloyd, Co-Chair 

  • Ms. Christine Germeyer

  • Ms. Amanda Forry Fino

  • Ms Catherine Childers

  • Mr. Josh "Bishop" Parker

  • Ms. Angel Barnhill

  • Ms. Sonja Lassister

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