Memories from the Celebration

ACCESS IS THE BEST MEDICINE: Fighting for Equality in Health Care

Photos and Videos from DREDF’s 37th Anniversary

September 15, 2016

Ed Roberts Campus, Berkeley, California

Mary Lou and Denise seated at a table and laughing.

Left to right: Mary Lou Breslin and Denise Sherer Jacobson

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Last Day of Strategizing and Planning by RightsNow! in Kenya

36 participants of the Kenyan RightsNow! training on improving implementation and enforcement of disability rights laws finally stood still enough to join Susan Henderson (DREDF), Lydia Shula (MIUSA), colleagues, and supporters in a group photo.
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Yui Yanagihara Has a Passion For Justice

Yui YanagiharaWhen I was first approached about being Yui Yanagihara’s supervisor during her international legal internship with DREDF, I felt that I had some sense of who she was even before she arrived. As a young woman traveling on her own halfway across the world to take on coursework and assignments in a second language, I was sure that she was resourceful, adventurous and determined. She was obviously deeply committed to disability rights for the long haul as she was not only paying out-of-pocket for this chance to see up close how the Americans with Disabilities Act worked in practice and in theory, she was foregoing almost three months of current work in her Tokyo law practice to better the understanding, skills and vision that she could offer to future clients.

I expected a serious, hard-working young career woman. While Yui does in fact embody those qualities, that rather dry description fails to capture Yui’s breadth. For instance, it misses her self-deprecation, dazzling smile, or the way she almost impishly camouflages her passionate identification with those who will not or cannot conform to Japan’s steely social and cultural expectations under a demure and charming exterior. It doesn’t begin to describe her kindness to, and playfulness with, my four year old daughter who has quickly come to adore her. It overlooks her ready desire to experience different cultures and meet people from other countries, or her outrage over what she sees as Japan’s embrace of homogeneity and stereotypes, especially about people with mental health disabilities.

Yui is clear-eyed about the injustices and problems of both the U.S. and Japan, but her unflagging focus is on mitigating the unfairness she sees in her own homeland, a country that she is also proud of and loves. As her supervisor, I think Yui credited me with much more knowledge and ability than I merit, but even after she got to know me, she remained respectful and attentive! We also bonded over a mutual desire to find good local sushi restaurants, admiration for chocolate, and an abiding love of cats. DREDF has been very fortunate to have her as a guest in our country and in our office. I know we will miss her faithful and supportive daily presence, her insights into American law and policy, and the fullness of who she is. As her supervisor during her internship, I directly benefited from knowing her, and now count her as a friend. Safe travels Yui, and I hope that our paths will cross again!