Lauren Appelbaum is the Director of Communications at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. She brings more than 10 years of experience in strategic and crisis communications, writing, video and web production, news gathering and social media to the disability agenda. Previously she was a digital researcher with the NBC News political unit, where she worked with Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell.

Appelbaum has published hundreds of articles on the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. The talent behind and #RespectTheAbility, she is a champion for people with disabilities. The#RespectTheAbility campaign highlights model employers that demonstrate how hiring workers with disabilities benefits the employer, the employee and society. The campaign’s goal is to erase negative and untrue stigmas associated with hiring people with disabilities.

Appelbaum currently oversees RespectAbility’s outreach to Hollywood to stand up against ableism and other prejudice – while promoting positive, accurate, diverse and inclusive media portrayals on TV and in film. She also supervises several Fellows in communications and social media through RespectAbility’s Fellowship Program. During the 2016 election season, Appelbaum led a team of Communications Fellows, which interviewed all of the presidential candidates about the importance disability employment, reporting all interviews via accessible video and articles in The RespectAbility Report.

Outside of work, Appelbaum is active in community theater and has served as a director, stage manager and rehearsal assistant for more than a dozen musicals and plays. Having organized volunteer ASL interpreters and coordinated ADA seating at performances, as well as directing a nonverbal actor with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair, she understands first-hand the importance of inclusion of both performers and others with disabilities.

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Appelbaum has a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University and undergraduate degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. She also serves on several national and local nonprofit boards. You can reach her at or on Twitter @laurenappelbaum.