Ford Foundation Biographies
Agents of Change Fellows:
Marcos Castillo (he/him)
Marcos Castillo is a Chicano Disability Rights Advocate who grew up on the border in Yuma, Arizona. Growing up on the border he has always been keenly aware of the disparities in BIPOC communities but never more so than when he became disabled 20 years ago at the age of 18. For the next 3 years he hopped around Arizona’s nursing homes until finally moving out to live independently in the community. Shortly thereafter he and his girlfriend and 3 kids moved in together and he took on the role of stay at home father, one of the greatest honors of his life.
Marcos has always been active in the community but his advocacy work really began when he started advocating for himself. His family had been missing out on many of the things we take for granted simply for lack of transportation so he decided to begin looking for services and began fundraising. That eventually led to being offered a position as a board member of The Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association, which led to becoming a peer mentor of the Christopher Reeves Foundation and a seat on the planning committee for the Latino Disability Summit held by Ability 360 and Chicanos Por La Causa. Voting is also crucial to the success of his communities so years ago he became a Deputy Registrar for Maricopa County. He's done radio, TV, print interviews and has sat on panels and spoken at conventions about subjects spanning sexuality & intimacy, being a parent with a disability as well as others. Advocating for both his disability community and the Latino community in English and Spanish are his life's work. Currently he sits on the advisory board of Honest Arizona working to ensure health and community-based services for those who need it.
Marcos is a passionate advocate and defender of his communities but prior to his injury was studying culinary arts and loves feeding those he loves dearly. He is excited and ready to utilize his experiences and talents to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities with the ECNV team.
Laura Halvorson (she/her)
Laura Halvoson is a native Texan and got involved in many disability activist and advocacy circles over the past few years. She was awarded the Community Integration Leadership (CIL) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advocacy by ECNV in 2019. In 2017 she was arrested several times protesting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and fought against state and federal attempts to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act.
She holds a Masters in Education and Diagnostician certification from Texas Woman’s University. Before she was in the DC metro she was an elementary school teacher and held the title of Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2014 where she educated and advocated to the media, the general public, business and political leaders on disability issues which inspired her to move closer to the nation's capital to fight for disability justice.
Laura co-founded the North Texas Wheelchair Hockey League and previously played on the Northern Virginia Patriots power soccer team. In her free time she enjoys exploring accessible nature trails and spending time with family, friends, and her service dog Houston.
D'Arcee Charington Neal (he/they)
D'Arcee Charington Neal is an award-winning professional storyteller, and third year doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University in English and Disability Studies, focusing on the intersections of black digital media and disability erasure within Afrofuturism. With a double Masters in Creative Writing and Rhetorical Composition, through the lens of audionarratology, he works to tell stories of the Afrophantasmic, or black disabled people who exist as phantoms within the community as both a power and a problem; critically analyzing digital blackface and ableism across popular culture. He is a recipient of the 2017 Tony Coelho NBC/Universal Digital Media Scholarship and winner of Best English Graduate Research at Ohio State University for 2020. However when not theorizing about black techno-agency, playing video games, or crying over Grey's Anatomy, he believes that the future can and should be both, accessible, and in Wakanda, forever.
Joshua Wilson (he/him)
Joshua Wilson is a 48 years old man who has Cerebral Palsy, and lives in Richmond, Virginia. Over the past 20 years Josh has been an advocate to make change for people with disabilities, especially in Virginia. He has spoken at the Virginia general Assembly several times on topics related to consumer-directed care, assistive technology, and Medicaid Waiver waiting lists. Information Technology (IT) is Josh’s passion; he has worked at Virginia Commonwealth University and as a volunteer at several non-profits doing IT, and he has a degree from J. Sergeant Reynolds College in the field. Josh describes bureaucracy as his most frustrating foe and his turtles and the beach as the two things that bring him the most peace. Josh lives in his own apartment and wants to make sure all people with disabilities have the opportunity to live on their own or with any people they choose.
Accelerator Program Participants:
Rosalia Fajardo (she/her)
Rosalia Fajardo is a Colombian lawyer whose purpose is to ensure that all children will have access to a great education and successful life through family, school, community, and business partnerships with her organization, Multicultural Families (MF). Dr. Fajardo is a nationally recognized community leader and speaker on disability rights for children with disabilities. For the last 20 years she has been advocating tirelessly to ensure that the Latino families and diverse populations have equal access to special education and higher education for youth with disabilities. She is also deeply involved in the social justice, immigration, healthcare, and dedicated to help Latino students to succeed in their dreams to achieve college education. Dr. Fajardo has provided technical assistance to more than 1000 Latina women to create their own business including mothers whose children are receiving special education. Prior to founding the MF, she served as Outreach Director of the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center and the Virginia Parent Information Center. She has also served as a special adviser to the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education at the U.S. Department of Education.
She is a proud mother of mother of Margarita Maria, a small business entrepreneur. For her work she has received numerous awards and special recognitions among including the 2009 SCAN award, the Lifetime achievement award presented by el Poder de Ser Mujer in 2019, Covid 19 Heroe presented by El Tiempo Latino Newspaper, and the prestigious 2021 Disability Impact Award from the Virginia Disability Law Center. She is excited to be a part of the ECNV team.