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Nathan R. Stenberg, Pioneering Disability Inclusion at Johns Hopkins University

In a groundbreaking move, Johns Hopkins University has appointed Nathan R. Stenberg as its first Director of Disability, Culture, and Inclusion. With a personal journey that embodies resilience and a professional background deeply rooted in disability advocacy, Stenberg is poised to lead the charge in developing a comprehensive vision for disability inclusion throughout the university.

A Journey of Resilience and Advocacy

Hailing from a humble background as a first-generation, developmentally disabled college graduate from rural Minnesota, Stenberg brings a unique perspective to his new role. Over the years, he has tirelessly championed the rights of the disability community through a multifaceted approach that includes public speaking, policy work, research, consulting, and even the performing arts. In addition to his responsibilities at Johns Hopkins, Stenberg actively participates in disability rights advocacy organizations, such as the National Museum of Disability History & Culture steering committee and the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance board of directors.

A Facilitator and Collaborator

Stenberg’s philosophy as he embarks on his mission within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Johns Hopkins is clear: he sees himself as a facilitator and collaborator, emphasizing the importance of genuine human connections in fostering disability inclusion. In an age of faceless email communication, he believes that listening is paramount to the success of his work. Operating within a decentralized institution like Johns Hopkins, Stenberg’s goal is to unite individuals, encourage collaboration, and assess existing processes to drive forward disability inclusion initiatives. His vision is to build upon the groundwork already laid, ensuring it serves as a sturdy foundation for broader, more encompassing endeavors.

A Diverse Path to Leadership

The diversity of Stenberg’s life experiences is evident in the many hats he has worn throughout his journey. From his early days as a farmhand and landscaper to his time working in various restaurants, his career path has been diverse and rich. Beyond this, he has trained as a musician, sound engineer, and personal trainer. His transition into public speaking and, more recently, film making has allowed him to make his research more accessible to the general public. Prior to his tenure at Johns Hopkins, he immersed himself in the field of disability policy in Washington, D.C., exploring issues that extend beyond well-known disability legislation.

Inclusivity at Johns Hopkins

Open laptop on desk with logo of Johns Hopkins University on the screen.
Photo 230367588 © Monticelllo | Dreamstime.com

In discussing what Johns Hopkins is already doing to promote inclusivity, Stenberg highlights the creation of his role as a significant step forward. He commends the institution for its introspection and acknowledgment that it had not fully lived up to its stated values regarding the inclusion of under served groups, including the disability community. He praises Johns Hopkins for putting resources behind its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Stenberg believes that this commitment offers an opportunity to dream big and work together to make Johns Hopkins a global leader in disability equity, innovation, and culture.

From all of us at AmeriDisability, we congratulate Nathan on his new position. We look forward to witnessing the positive changes he will bring to Johns Hopkins University and the broader disability community. Cheers to his new role and the transformative impact it will have!

Click here to read the original article by Aleyna Rentz at hub.jhu.edu

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