Youth Leaders Hosted at USICD



South Korean fellow Semin Seo stands beside a USICD banner

Semin Seo (2017-South Korea)

Coming to USICD via the German American Chambers of Commerce, Semin quickly became a member of the USICD family. Semin said, " My fellowship at USICD, gave me the opportunity to enrich my academic studies and advance my career. Before coming to USICD, I wanted to work in the field of human rights. I thought about sustainable development programs in the areas of human trafficking, women rights, education for children, and advocacy work. Because I do not have enough knowledge of people with disability, I hope to learn how various organizations promote disability inclusion development in all their work in order to protect the rights of people with disabilities." Semin's project  was to consolidate disability findings from the U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights.


A gentleman with glasses and brown hair wearing a suit is shown from the shoulders upA globe made of gray ourlines with Atlas Corps in darl blue lettering around the edge

Sherzodbek Sharipov (2010 - 2012, Uzbekistan)

Coming to USICD through Atlas Corps, Sher became a vital part of the USICD staff.  Using his skll at translation form English to Russian, he was able to assist in creating the Russian Portal of the GDRL as well as share his own international experiences on various panels.

Forming are rainbow colored stick figures with their hears pointed outwards

A man of Nepalese decent speaks at a lectern wearing a green and white striped shirt.

Padam Pariyar (2012, Nepal)

Coming to USICD through IREX's Community Solutions Program, Padam worked with USICD to support the effective implementation of GDRL and other USICD initiatives. Pariyar received a Bachelor Degree in Education and Master Degree in Rural Development from Tribhuvan University of Nepal. He is currently working with Handicap International in Nepal in the capacity of Advocacy Technical Officer. Padam has been working on a variety of community development programs since 2003, primarily with national and international disabled people's organizations. Throughout that time, he has focused on the empowerment and promotion of the rights of marginalized communities, including persons with disabilities, and the indigenous people of Nepal. As president of SAMRIDDHA NEPAL, he has been advocating and supporting development actors in the mainstreaming of disability issues in their working agendas.

                 A young woman sitting in a wheelchair in front of Capitol Building in Washington DC       Circle of hands with different colours

Jagoda Risteska ( 2013, Macedonia)

With more than 10 year work experience in non profit sector, she is Co-Founder of the MC-Mobility Challenge, an Organization which works for empowering women with disabilities from R. Macedonia. She held position of Executive Director of MC-Mobility Challenge for over 3 years. Jagoda earned a Bachelor's Degree in Management from the University Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje.  She has first-hand experience with a disability as result of Muscular Dystrophy. She is highly motivated and dedicated to social change and empowering lives of people with disabilities in her community. Jagoda participated in the 4th Women's Institute on Leadership and Disability in Eugene, Oregon in 2008, organized by Mobility International USA (MIUSA). After this leadership program, together with other women from her country, she created the Supportive Group for People with Disabilities (SGPD), officially registered as a Non-Profit Organization called MC-Mobility Challenge, in 2009. During the recent years, the organization was more focused on improving the access for women with disabilities in education, employment and public institutions. Upon returning from Community Solutions Program Fellowship, Jagoda will focus her work on motivating women with disabilities from her country to take active participation in all spheres of social life, increasing their awareness and self- esteem.

Practicum Students

A smiling woman in a sweater stands in fron of a wall of international flagsMary Dakim (International Development Program, Gallaudet, Fall 2010)  Mary earned B.S and B.A degrees respectively in Economics and Finance and Elementary Education from Gallaudet University in 2007; and an MA in International Development from the same university in 2011. She has since 2007 been working as a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) at Gallaudet.   Ms. Dakim did her Practicum at the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD). During her practicum at the USICD, Ms. Dakim worked with a team of librarians and disability experts to gather useful and quality resources for the Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL).She specifically focused on gathering resources written in Hausa language.   In the spring of 2011, Ms. Dakim, interned with Accion International, doing research on Micro-finance Ecuador, Latin America.  She also interned at Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as an accountant and in Nigeria with the Plateau State Ministries of Education and Finance. In addition, Ms. Dakim did a teaching practicum at the Sidwell Friends School in Bethesda Maryland as well as a teaching internship at the Sandy Spring Friends School in Montgomery County where she taught 4th graders Language Arts, Social Studies and other subjects.

Catherine Johnson - (International Development Program, Gallaudet, Fall 2011)

Kayleigh Marshall (Graduate Studies, American University, Spring of 2011)

A smiling African American woman smiles at the camera wearing a white top with a red jacket.Linda Vakunta - (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Spring 2011)  Linda was a second year Master’s student in the department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. She obtained her Bachelors at UW-Madison in Psychology. She worked as a Business Environment Intern for USAID’s West Africa Trade Hub in the summer of 2010. She currently serves as the project coordinator for Project 1808, a US NGO and Sierra Leone Community Based Organization focused on promoting  sustainable development through youth empowerment and capacity building. She is currently a PhD student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental studies-UW Madison with a focus on Education and Sustainable Development.

In the spring of 2011, Linda interned with USICD working specifically on the Global Disability Rights Library. In her position, she helped develop content for the Africa portal section of the library. She communicated and secured copyright permission for content distribution from numerous publishers and authors. She also assisted with translations from English to French and vice Versa. 

A young woman with long brown hair wearing a red skirt and a blue and white printed shirt stands smiling beside a wrought iron fence with a statue behindJulia Wolhandler - (International Development Program, Gallaudet, Fall 2010)  Julia supported USICD as a second year masters student in the International Development program with a focus on disability rights. She obtained her bachelors degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in English-American Sign Language Interpreting and a minor in Arabic language. In 2009 she lived abroad in Egypt, studying at the American University of Cairo, and obtaining a certificate of completion from the Arabic Language Institute.

In the summer of 2012, Julia interned with both the Inclusion Research Institute (IRI) and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN). While at IRI she acted as a documenter for the Developmental Disabilities Administration-Maryland Quality of Life survey. At NDRN Julia was heavily involved with promoting and researching the CRPD. Her work there included research and creating documents on the monitoring and implementation of the CRPD by Protection and Advocacy agencies throughout the U.S..


A young woman in a wheelchair leans over a computer while several other people look over her shoulder at the screen

Rachel Garaghty came to USICD as an intern for the Global Disability Rights Project.  She then completed her Master of Public Policy degree at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota with concentrations in global policy and international development, and a minor in human rights.  Rachel is very interested in bringing disability issues into mainstream international development agendas, as well as meaningfully incorporating more people with disabilities into development processes.  As an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, Rachel was actively involved with disability advocacy groups. Rachel has continued to work with USICD, including demonstrating the GDRL on a trip to Tanzania

An African Gentleman wearing a black shirt and light tie and glasses.

Jean de Dieu Mukunzi joined USICD as a summer intern with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).  During his internship, Jean was finishing a graduate degree in Public Health at Wright State University. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Clinical Psychology from the National University of Rwanda and a Certificate in Web Design from Laval University in Canada.  Jean has served as a Youth Program Manager at Population Services International in Rwanda, where he worked to prevent HIV and STD transmission. He also worked as a Manager of the Internation Youth Foundation Employability Program in Rwanda where he developed and oversaw vocational training programs. He has worked as a webmaster and Awareness Coordinator for the Shyira Diocese in Rwanda and as a teacher of Information Technology and Computer Sciences.

A smiling young man with blond hair leans slightly down beside a dark haired gentleman in a wheelchair, both smiling at the cameraChris Damon-Cronmiller joined USICD as a summer intern through the Washington Internship Institute (WII) while an undergraduate student at Fairfield University, where he is completing his Bachelors Degree in International Studies and Politics. Through Fairfield University, Christopher also recently completed a semester abroad in Nicaragua, where he studied at the Universidad Centroamericana.  For his high school senior thesis, he constructed an awareness panel on "invisible disabilities" held within his school, backed by statistics he gathered through a survey. He also spent a summer working at the Asperger's Association of New England where he focused on political advocacy pertaining to An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism (the Massachusetts State House passed the bill that same summer). In addition, Christopher interned at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under Commissioner Chai Feldblum, working on various disability rights related issues. While at USICD, Chris focused on Hill outreach for the CRPD Initiative.

A smiling man in a dark suit and glassesSteven A. Rodriguez is a rising senior and Skadden, Arps honors scholar pursuing a B.A. in International Studies at The City College of New York of The City University of New York (CUNY) and holds an A.A. in Liberal Arts from Kingsborough Community College. He is aiming for law school next, with a focus on disability law and public policy.

Before USICD, Steven interned with the National Disability Rights Network where he first had the opportunity to participate in outreach for the CRPD. He has held student leadership roles at CUNY in various capacities, most notably in the CUNY Pathways initiative, a historic reform of the general education framework across CUNY's 26 Colleges & Schools. In 2012, Steven became chairperson of the CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities, a not-for-profit, membership, student-led organization dedicated to increase awareness, opportunity and foster community amongst CUNY's more than 9,000 students with disabilities.