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LEAP Mourns the Loss of Deborah Nebel

Posted July 08, 2014 in LEAP in the News

LEAP Mourns the Loss of Deborah Nebel

LEAP lost a champion July 5 when Deborah Nebel, our longtime director of public policy, died after suffering a brain hemorrhage in April.

Deborah made an amazing impact not only on all of us at LEAP, but also in the lives of countless people in the disability community and in her faith community. Passionate, articulate, and empowering, she spoke with a force of brilliance about what can happen when people are given the opportunity to make life-changing choices. She knew that freedom is at the core of a fulfilling life of possibilities, and she inspired others to recognize this and take action.

Deborah challenged our decision makers to reject ignorance and prejudice and reminded them of the morality of their work. Sheinfluenced public policy systems all levels in this country and through her countless visits to this country’s corridors of power, she helped improve the lives of thousands by advocating for legislative and policy changes to benefit the marginalized.

Her conviction was simple: that people could learn to treat each other better by understanding and appreciating differences. But her advocacy of this simple message was forceful. In her determined, unwavering, and focused work for social justice, she took a stand and taught us all about the value and dignity of disability. She helped change people's attitudes and increase their understanding of the true meaning of independence and freedom.

Deborah's life eloquently illustrated her battle for equal rights for the marginalized among us. She was insistent that communities examine attitudes and invite, welcome, and accept people who are deemed different. Her brilliant mind and compassionate heart allowed her to bring together groups of people to focus on common core values of self-determination, choice, equal opportunity, improved access, and protection against discrimination. Because she made such a strong contribution to this movement for social justice and freedom, she has, in her own resolute way, changed the world.

She was at once enlightening and profound, knowledgeable and authentic, and a staunch supporter of her principled beliefs in equity. She brought the dream of a fully inclusive community for all of us a little closer to reality, and we were blessed to have been part of her quest for justice.

We can honor Deborah's memory by continuing the public policy work that insists on implementing the tenets of the Americans with Disabilities Act, for which she fought so long. In her words, “The fight's not over yet.” Let us unite to honor Deborah by rededicating ourselves to the kind of passionate, courageous advocacy for justice that she so fully exemplified.

With gratitude for the gifts she shared,

Melanie Hogan
Executive Director

NOTE: A worship service and celebration of Deborah’s will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 2 at Hope Lutheran Church, 2222 North Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44112.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Deborah’s name be made to Hope Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Deaconess Association (Valparaiso, Indiana),Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential (LEAP), or Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry.