David James (DJ) Savarese, who will oversee the project, has successfully designed and completed disability and social justice projects for over a decade as a Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student ’09-‘10, as an ASAN Scholar Fellow ’16-‘17, as an OSF Human Rights Initiative Community Youth Fellow ’17-‘19, and as the Deej: Inclusion Shouldn’t Be a Lottery Outreach Campaign director ’17- . Savarese also co-produced, narrated, and starred in the documentary, which won a Peabody Award for “unprecedented inclusive filmmaking.” His own national base of support and listserv from the Deej: Inclusion Shouldn’t be a Lottery Outreach Campaign, has over 1000 members from 40 different states. Co-Chair of the Alliance, he is a leader in the Neurodiversity Movement who is intimately connected with the broader, national disability community and regularly presents and collaborates both at the national, regional, and local levels.
One of only two AAC-using autistics to be fully included from kindergarten through college graduation, and a graduate of the Leadership, Organizing, and Action course at The Kennedy School at Harvard, he is well-versed in community building focused on empowering others to realize their own life outcomes. When DJ graduated from Oberlin College in 2017 and embarked on his DEEJ Outreach Campaign and OSF Fellowships, he was one of only a handful of alternatively communicating autistics to attend college. Since then, over 45 colleges and universities in over 15 states have AAC-using students with autism enrolled in degree-programs. Real change is possible when we’re motivated by lived experience to break down barriers.