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JFS Alexander Institute of Inclusion

2014 Ruderman Prize in Inclusion Winner

JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion logoName: JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion
Location: Houston, Texas
Website: jfshouston.org

Program Description: The JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion is a Houston based initiative dedicated to engaging local communities in vital discussions on how to meaningfully include people with disabilities. The Institute develops the leadership skills of key players whose awareness of inclusion brings the conversation (and ultimately action) to the forefront of their work, academic, or communal environments. In its efforts to increase awareness across the board, the Institute comprehensively trains leaders and committees dedicated to the cause which challenges organizations to embrace inclusion in a proactive way.

A key objective of the Institute is reducing stigma related to disabilities. This goal is achieved through captivating arts and educational programs that effectively change perception, promote inclusion, and encourage diversity. Partnering with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities to host ReelAbilities: Houston Disabilities Film Festival, the JFS Alexander Institute leverages a city-wide series of events to launch ongoing, long-term inclusion initiatives throughout Houston, the most diverse city in the nation.

While there are many programs that the JFS Alexander Institute run throughout the year, the Institute maintains the premise that an all-inclusive community will only be achieved when decision makers are given opportunities to convene, when they are given support to advance these goals, and when partners who share this mission are encouraged to collaborate with other community leaders to ensure maximum impact.

“Jewish Family Service and its Alexander Institute for Inclusion work daily to foster a community that includes all individuals. Receiving the Ruderman Prize In Inclusion is the highest form of acknowledgement we could ever hope for.  The Ruderman Family Foundation is a light, leading all those who follow in its path to a world that has room for everyone to thrive. We are grateful to be recipients of this prestigious prize.” – Linda Burger, CEO, JFS Houston

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Debra Cohen, JFS Houston President and Becky Cisneros

Debra Cohen, JFS President, and Becky Cisneros at the family reception for “Houstonians with Positive Exposure” featuring photos by Rick Guidotti of local individuals with genetic differences and disabilities at the Nicole Longnecker Gallery, Feb. 2014 (credit: Meredith Segal)

 “As President of The Ruderman Family Foundation, Jay Ruderman has been one of the most influential leaders at the forefront of raising awareness about the inclusion of people with disabilities.  Stanford and I have so much respect for the game-changing work of The Ruderman Family Foundation and their passionate commitment to ensure that all people with disabilities are included in the Jewish community, here, in Israel and worldwide.  Knowing that our missions are so aligned, it is a tremendous honor for the work of the Jewish Family Service Alexander Institute of Inclusion to be recognized with an award from one of our peers.  We truly believe that it will take these types of collaborations – all of us working together to make a difference by eliminating stigma, providing needed services, and changing attitudes about the way people perceive those of us living with disabilities and special needs” – Joan Alexander, Founder of JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion.