Image of the Storytellers Series staff (Right to Left, Jordan Melograna, Program Director, Peter Rand, Lead Video Editor and Motion Designer, Cuquis Robledo, Storyteller Series Coordinator (image shown via remote connection on the laptop), Rachel Miyazaki, Creative Production Assistant, Clark Matthews, Lead Producer) with Derek Shields, Co-Chair of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (on the far left). The group is seated at a conference table in the Rooted in Rights office with a view of downtown Seattle in the background.

Rooted in Rights Storytellers Staff Recognized for Emancipatory Work

On Thursday, April 26,2018, Derek Shields, Co-Chair of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition stopped by Disability Rights Washington’s office in Seattle to recognize the staff of the Rooted in Rights Storytellers Series.

After an informal discussion about mentors and role models in each person’s life and career, a brief recognition ceremony was held. A citation (provided below) was read and a formal induction certificate was provided recognizing the following individuals:

  • Jordan Melograna, Program Director
  • Emily Ladau, Editor in Chief, Rooted in Rights Blog
  • Vanessa Link, Creative Production Assistant
  • Clark Matthews, Lead Producer
  • Rachel Miyazaki, Creative Production Assistant,
  • Peter Rand, Lead Video Editor and Motion Designer
  • Cuquis Robledo, Storyteller Series Coordinator
  • Vilissa Thompson, Digital Manager

Congratulations to the team for the work they do, for their character, and for making a difference through mentoring to change the media narrative.


The Rooted in Rights Storytellers Series recruits people with disabilities who want to tell stories through video, and mentors them as they write and direct their own projects. Through mentorship, Storytellers are able to discover and express their own self-advocacy voices, while also learning practical skills in video production that are applicable to several fields that they could pursue professionally. Lastly, the amplification of these stories helps elevate the Storytellers’ portfolios.

By mentoring Storytellers, the Rooted in Rights staff is expanding the cohort of people with disabilities who have the technical and creative skills to change media narratives, tell stories that others can’t or won’t tell about disability issues, and have the confidence to push back against the discriminatory forces.

In recognizing this ground-breaking and emancipatory work, we recognize the Storytellers Series and team as “clearing the air and purifying the water” for this and future generations. (Full credit to Dr. Torie Wieston-Serdan for this phrase and Her Work.)

For this work — and its impact — we are honored to induct the Rooted In Right Storytellers Project into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall Fame.

Storyteller Series Films

While celebrating the staff, we thought we should also share some of the products the series has produced.

Yolanda Vargas: We all know that managing your money can be tricky and complicated at times. But what about if you are on Social Security benefits programs, such as Supplemental Security Income, or SSI? How do you ensure that you are receiving your money and benefits after you turn 18 and select the best option for your situation?

Watch as Storyteller, Yolanda Vargas, explains the process of how she gained control of her money, gives tips on the different options available that may work for you, and how to approach the SSA.

Maddie Bright: Almost everyone knows how frustrating it is when a website won’t load, or when your internet connection suddenly cuts out. Now imagine that frustration when you know what you’re trying to see is right in front of you — but you just can’t get to it.

That’s just scratching the surface of the importance of internet accessibility.

I’m Maddie Bright, a high school senior here to share about how something so vital to everyday life isn’t required to be accessible. Yeah, learning that shocked me too. Thankfully, I’ve got a lot to tell you about how you can make your website accessible.

So join me in learning about our wonderful World Wide Web! Then, feel free to share this video to help get the word out about the need for an accessible internet for all.

Cuquis Robledo: It’s the New Year, and that means we are just about six months away from graduation. Graduation is an exciting time to celebrate all of our accomplishments, but what if you can’t attend your own graduation because you have a disability?

Cuquis Robledo, our Storytellers Coordinator and recent college graduate, is back with a new video about her graduation experience, and with tips on how students with disabilities can advocate for themselves to participate in their own ceremony.

Share this video with students with disabilities and with your local university so they’re students don’t have to go through the same issue that Cuquis did.

To access more videos and discover the amazing work and world of the Rooted in Rights Storytellers team, please visit their website.

    Leave a Comment