Breaking Barriers

5th Annual Fundraiser Supporting Disability Rights Washington

October 2, 2020

Breaking barriers to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Washington State.

Photo of someone wearing an orange jumpsuit and signing a voting ballot with the assistance of DRW staff. Word "Vote" is overlaid in white.
This past year, Disability Rights Washington worked with the King County Elections office to provide accessible voting units for people with disabilities at the King County Jail. The above photo shows a person signing a ballot with the assistance of a DRW staff member.

Evening Schedule

  • 6:00 PM – Program Begins (please access live event on YouTube here.)
  • Video: Giraffes Say, “Habitats for All!”
    • Lyla introduces her friend Dave the Giraffe from Woodland Park Zoo, and shares how people and animals of all abilities and disabilities need different types of habitats.
  • Welcome by Hosts, Mickey Rowe and Helen Marion
    • Video: What is DRW?
    • Grand Prize Door Drawing: Alaska Airlines Tickets
  • Guest Speakers, Nate and Rachel Nemhauser
    • Video featuring Nate and Rachel sharing their story about accessing educational services during COVID, along with David Carlson, Director of Advocacy, and Andrea Kadlec, Staff Attorney.
  • 5 Minute Break
  • Presentation of Breaking Barriers Awards
    • Emerging Advocate Award and Advocacy Award
      • Recipients: Rochelle Bowyer and Josh Galassi
      • Presented by Mark Stroh, Executive Director
    • Public Policy Award
      • Recipient: Senator Rebecca Saldaña
      • Presented by Anna Zivarts, Director of Disability Mobility Initiative Program
    • Business Leader Award
      • Recipient: Woodland Park Zoo
      • Presented by Clark Matthews, Creative Director of Rooted in Rights
    • Lifetime Achievement Award
      • Recipient: Nathan Loose, posthumously
      • Presented by Mark Stroh, Executive Director
  • 7:00 PM – Thank you and goodnight!

Hosts: Mickey Rowe and Helen Marion

Photo of Helen in grey top.
Helen Marion
Photo of Mickey smiling with arms folded on top of a table.
Mickey Rowe
Photo of Helen and Mickey embracing and smiling at camera.
Mickey (left) and Helen (right)

Helen Marion (she/her) is an Asian Australian teaching artist and musical theatre performer. She has performed on Puget Sound stages including Book-It Repertory Theatre and Centerstage. She is also the Operations and Marketing Manager for a theatre company and General Manager of a charter boat company. Viewers may have seen Helen hosting a weekly lifestyle segment on Seattle’s CW Channel, and a T-Mobile training series on leadership, inclusion, equity and diversity. She has also toured locally, nationally and internationally as a theatre educator.

Mickey Rowe (he/him) has had a prolific and varied career as an actor, director and public speaker; now highly sought after both nationally and internationally. He was the first autistic actor to ever play any autistic character in a professional performance setting as Christopher Boone, the lead role in the Tony Award winning play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Mickey now teaches best practices and is changing the industries in which he works. Mickey was the founding Artistic Director of National Disability Theatre. National Disability Theatre’s productions feature only professional artists, artisans, and designers with disabilities.

Mickey and Helen have written their first book coming out soon with Stimola Literary Studio. “Our Differences Are Our Strengths: An Autistic Journey From Special Education to Broadway’s Biggest Stage” is Mickey’s memoir, explaining his experiences of autism, disability culture, adventure, dreams, growing up, exploration, social justice, and life. Follow Mickey on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Guest Speakers: Nate and Rachel Nemhauser

Photo of Nate wearing sunglasses while sitting in the passenger seat of a car with his arm out the window.
Nate Nemhauser

Nate Nemhauser is sixteen years old and a sophomore in high school. He is proud to be a person with a disability, and is learning to use his outspokenness to advocate for the rights of people with I/DD. Nate enjoys horror movies, Xbox games and watching YouTube in his free time, and plans to become a famous YouTube star when he grows up.

Photo of Rachel smiling in front of a sunset on a beach.
Rachel Nemhauser

Rachel Nemhauser is the Community and Family Support Program manager at the Arc of King County in Seattle, WA, and has been an active member of the disability community since 2009.  She is a former member of the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council, and has been the Supervisor of Parent to Parent in King County since 2015. She is the creator and administrator of the Arc’s IEP Parent Partner program, and works closely with families throughout King County navigating special education services. Rachel is also the parent of a 16 year old autistic son, and writes about her experiences being Nate’s mom on her blog:

DRW Board of Directors

Nick Allen

Sandra Carr

Joshua Cooper

Kim Olander Mayer

Sonja Hardenbrook

Ken Larson

Camesha Little

Todd Couture

Rocio Lopez

Eric Matthes

Ryan Nabors

Anthony Nash II

Ray Parker

Jessica Rafuse

Grace Wang

DRW Development & Awareness Committee

Alexandra Deas

Arielle Inveen

Jennifer McAuliffe

Jodi Rose

Julia Mitsch

Lora Mason

Madison Moreno

Rachel Saimons

Stacie Siebrecht

Susan Moriarty


Partner: Microsoft Accessibility Team, Advocate: Group Health Foundation, Friends: Andrea Biviano, attorney at Paukert & Troppmann, PLLC.; Jennifer and Peter McAuliffe; Peter Korn and Anneli Meyer Korn; Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho

Event Hosts

Accessibility Oz

Anderson Ellis

Frank Freed Subit & Thomas

MacDonald Hoague and Bayless

OneDigital Health & Benefits

Pam Crone

Sarah Bird, Windermere Spokane

Washington Alarm

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation

In-Kind Donors

Alaska Airlines

Seattle Mariners

Columbia Winery

Bale Breaker Brewing

Lagunitas Brewing

Rooftop Brewing


Kay Catering

We're on board with your efforts. Proud to support Disability Rights Washington. Alaska Airlines.

Breaking Barriers Award Recipients

Advocacy Award: Josh Galassi

Photo of Josh holding a small black and white dog, while smiling.

Josh Galassi is a writer and advocate living in Seattle. As a gay man with Cerebral Palsy, his work often examines the intersection between disability and sexuality. He began writing for, one of the largest LGBTQ news websites in the world, in 2016. In addition to writing about his own personal experiences as a disabled gay man, Josh has profiled several prominent disability activists including Andrew Gurza, Ryan O’Connell of “Special”, Ryan Haddad of “The Politician”, and more.

Raised in Kalispell, Montana, Josh never dreamed he would end up where he is today. As a teen living in a religious, conservative state, he struggled immensely with his sexuality, thinking himself “dirty” and needing to change. He underwent years of therapy to try and change his sexuality, until finally deciding to come out at the age of 21. It was then that he realized he never wanted anyone else to struggle the way he did, and thus, his advocacy work began. During his time in college, he held an internship with GLAAD, where he was able to advocate for LGBTQ people and their rights. He graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Journalism – Public Relations in 2014.

After years of writing for Queerty, Josh was given his own biweekly disability column on the site in October 2019, called “disgaybled.” There, he has tackled everything from abasiophilia, or the fetishization of people with disabilities, to dating, to confronting his own internalized ableism.

Josh’s advocacy work also extends to his day job, where he often champions for his clients to include people with disabilities in their campaigns. Most recently, Josh approaches his advocacy work with a blend of humor and heart. It is through this that he hopes he is able to upend people’s preconceived notions of disability.

Public Policy Award: Senator Rebecca Saldaña

Photo of Rebecca smiling.

During her tenure in the Senate, Rebecca has used her experience and expertise to spearhead legislative efforts to increase equity for historically oppressed communities, protect workers’ rights, encourage sustainable development, build equitable transportation solutions, and increase voter access to elections. She is vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and also sits on the Labor & Commerce Committee and the Housing Stability & Affordability Committee. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Humanities from Seattle University, and lives in Rainier Beach/Skyway with her husband and two youngest children.

Last session, Senator Saldaña was a critical partner in passing legislation to promote equitable transportation access for disabled and transit-dependent Washingtonians. She worked to build consensus, recognizing that everyone should be able to navigate our streets, crosswalks and sidewalks.

Business Award: Woodland Park Zoo

Photo of the Woodland Park Zoo staff gathered on a lawn.

Woodland Park Zoo’s stated mission is to “save wildlife and inspire everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.” On its journey to that mission, they have been intentional about its focus on “everyone.” Woodland Park Zoo believes that including diverse ideas, perspectives, and voices in every aspect of its work—from staff to volunteers to visitors to partners—is not only the right thing to do, but is essential for realizing its mission and vision. It strives to create an environment that celebrates the unique skills and perspectives of all individuals and enables them to contribute meaningfully.

Many accredited zoos and aquariums have taken great strides in helping guests with disabilities get the most out of their visits. Woodland Park Zoo has been working with community partners to authentically identify and meet the needs of our guests through a complete redesign of our accessibility web page, the provision of sensory tools, social stories for children with autism or other sensory sensitivities, and creating Sensory-Friendly Fridays at Zoomazium. It wants to ensure that conservation education is accessible to all learners, and that those with disabilities are inspired to and supported in saving wildlife with us!

As a conservation organization, it is familiar with the current lack of diverse representation in the field. Woodland Park Zoo recognized a need to expand its vision of inclusion beyond the needs of guests to a participatory level. The Volunteer Inclusion Program (VIP), supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant, has helped to remove barriers to participation for volunteers with disabilities, facilitating their partnership in wildlife conservation.

Woodland Park Zoo staff and volunteers have engaged in over 400 hours of inclusion-related trainings since October 2018 in its efforts to build an inclusive community that welcomes volunteers with disabilities. In having people with disabilities represented on boards, as staff members, as volunteers and as guests, Woodland Park Zoo continues to grow in its capacity to model community inclusion both in its home of Seattle and in its field of conservation. As the zoo explains “[w]e recognize that in creating inclusive spaces for those with disabilities we also have the opportunity and duty to improve access intersectionally for other marginalized voices in our community.”

Emerging Advocate Award: Rochelle Bowyer

Photo of Rochelle holding a grey cat.

Rochelle Bowyer, a junior at University of Washington (UW), advocates for the rights and inclusion of students with disabilities. Rochelle’s disability has and always will be an invisible disability, but the barriers she experiences exist in plain sight. She admits, for a long time, having a disability was a great source of shame and frustration. When she was younger, she buried her passion for languages, writing, and careers under the liberal arts umbrella because on paper, that was her weakness. Students with dyslexia are often guided away from things that require strong reading and writing skills.

Even though Rochelle inherited her father’s dyslexia, she could care less about his love of drawing, and instead had inherited her mother’s passion for writing and language. Rochelle realized that as a student with dyslexia, learning languages is uncommon and not recommended. She was disappointed with the lack of resources or tips to help students with dyslexia learn a second language. In response, Rochelle plans to study aboard for a full-year documenting her experiences and compiling tips on how to learn a second language.

As part of the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) community, Rochelle empowers students with disabilities pursuing secondary education. Rochelle is a role model and teacher to the students, presenting on panels, facilitating discussions, demonstrating advocacy methods, and providing insight on how to promote a positive disability culture. She also worked on a project with the Museology Department at The University of Washington in partnership with AccessISL to learn about Universal Design (UD) and ways to increase accessibility. As a journalist for The Daily at UW, she writes content from the perspective of a student with a disability and openly talks about how UW can improve access for students with disabilities.
Rochelle’s passion for social justice and equity, together with her quiet leadership skills and determination, empower her to be an effective and life-long advocate for disability rights.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Nathan Loose

Photo of Nathan smiling.

Nathan Loose is the recipient of a Breaking Barriers Lifetime Achievement Award. He worked tirelessly in support of the right to live in one’s own home in the community. Through many years of effective advocacy, Nathan ensured that policymakers consider and respond to the perspective of people with disabilities in designing and delivering in-home services.

Nathan developed subject matter expertise in issues related to homecare services and he became a recognized leader and spokesperson. He believed that people who use in-home services should be in charge of directing their own care, including hiring, firing, training and supervising caregivers. As a leader, Nathan encouraged and supported other people with disabilities in speaking up for their rights. He did this on the public stage, by supporting others in learning how to do legislative and regulatory advocacy.

Through his business, Nathan helped individuals with disabilities succeed in establishing homes in the community and securing necessary services. Nathan received referrals from the state to assist people moving out of nursing homes, or experiencing homelessness. Both in his business and through his public advocacy, Nathan worked to support the rights of every person with a disability to live and participate in the community.

On June 9 of this year, we lost a disability rights champion with the passing of Nathan Loose. Disability Rights Washington (DRW) staff and volunteers knew Nathan as the chair of DRW’s Disability Advisory Committee and a member of our Board of Directors. Nathan was widely recognized as the state leader in advocacy for self-directed in-home care.

Microsoft Ad: Photo of a woman holding a cane and smiling with a Microsoft laptop in her hands. Text to the left of her photo reads, Congratulations to all Breaking Barriers 2020 Award Recipients! At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more. We are passionate about creating inclusive products, services, websites, and company culture. Designing with, by, and for people with disabilities will lead to greater innovations for everyone. Together with our customers and partners, technology can unlock solutions that empower people with disabilities.

Group Health Foundation Ad: Text reads, "Group Health Foundation aims to shape and accelerate efforts to improve health equity and advance
community aspirations for a vibrant, healthy future in Washington."

Congratulations on your retirement, Pam!

You have been an invaluable asset to the social justice movement. You have been a mentor and a model for countless advocates. You are a champion! A champion of the rights of women, and youth and foster care kids, and the fight to end domestic violence, and most of all – the rights of people with disabilities! We have enjoyed working with you tremendously. You will be greatly missed.

Photo of Pam holding a microphone.
Pam Crone speaking to audience during DRW’s 2019 Trueblood Advocacy Day in Olympia.

Thanks to our supporters, DRW impacted the lives of people with disabilities in 2019.

839,000+Facebook views of Rooted in Rights videos.
42,000+People benefitted from DRW’s public policy advocacy.
38,000+People impacted by DRW’s litigation.
10,600+People impacted by DRW’s monitoring of more than 21 treatment settings, many of which are locked.
1,988+People trained through more than 50 DRW trainings.
1,620+People with disabilities and their family members gained rights information and tools to advocate for their own rights. DRW provided these services more than 2,200 times.
88Stories were shared by 42 disabled writers through Rooted in Rights.

Follow DRW on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Livestreaming and event production provided by Kirkland Performing Center Studios

Logo with the word "KPC Studios" in brown.

ASL Interpretation Brought to You By:

Logo with the word "That!" and images of hands signing on top. Text below reads, "Interpreting Services of Deaf & Deaf-Blind, Inc.
THAT! Interpreting Services of Deaf & Deaf-Blind, Inc.

THAT! Interpreting Services of Deaf & Deaf-Blind, Inc. is a Deaf owned business. The interpreter on the screen is a Deaf interpreter, Terry Dockter, and the 2nd interpreter who is not on the screen is Colleen Jones who gives him the information from the host/speakers.