Remembering PolicyWorks’ Barbara Butz Through the Inclusion Lens of Lights! Camera! Access!

Lights! Camera! Access! (LCA) celebrates the life, leadership, and legacy of PolicyWorks Founder and President, Barbara Butz, who will forever be etched in our hearts and memories as a treasured architect and leader of LCA. Her passion was supporting generations of youth with disabilities, and her calling was evangelizing peer mentoring. Barbara’s relentless pursuit of disability equity pushed all of us harder and stronger, together–to believe in ourselves, and each other–to always do our best work…and to have fun

Together, Barbara and Steven Allen developed the core LCA Career Exploration Summit workshop, Self-Disclosure: Leveraging Your Disability to Sharpen Your Competitive Edge, based on PolicyWorks’ critically-acclaimed Peer Mentoring model. The successful model was first developed with the Kessler Foundation-funded College to Careers (C2C) initiative in collaboration with Caren Sax, Director San Diego State University (SDSU) Interwork Institute, based on curriculum designed by Paul Hippolitus at the University of California, Berkeley. 

This LCA workshop is a companion session to the No One Taught Me How to Network workshop created by PolicyWorks friend Derek Shields, Director of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC). These two LCA workshops, along with resume review, speed interviews, flash mentoring and two panels, How to Make it in the Media, curated and moderated by Anna Pakman, and the Deaf & Disability Narrative Imperative, built the foundation of the LCA Career Exploration Regional Summits. These events are now expanding to LCA Online Mentoring Circles, designed by Derek to provide professional scaffolding for select LCA alumni who are DOR job seekers, and LCA Online Gallery, being created by LCA Core Team member, Jd Michaels to showcase the talents of LCA participants.

Barbara was a connector, ambassador, mentor and fierce advocate of inclusion. She was the sister, mom, aunt and grandmother we never had but secretly wished for. With Barbara, you knew you were loved as “family” by choice. She understood us, believed in us (even when we did not yet believe in ourselves) and encouraged us to strive for more, to bring our whole self to every task with disability power and pride.

Through her extensive network, she enriched and empowered LCA mentors and mentees alike to believe in their dreams and each other. She introduced LCA to Joey Travolta’s Inclusion Films; Caren Sax’s Interwork Institute at SDSU (co-hosts of LCA San Diego, with Options for All); and Michael Greenberg, who is now spearheading LCA Baltimore to be convened this Fall – and dedicated to the memory of Barbara. PolicyWorks’ leadership also provided seed funding to bring the concept of NDMC to full fruition.   

Her greatest joy was bringing together programs and colleagues and then calling those sacred collaborations: a synchronistic bounce. She would often say, “Love it when a plan comes together.” We all are the recipients of Barbara’s love and beneficiaries of her guidance. LCA is an improved and more effective program thanks to Barbara.

While Barbara will not physically be moving forward with us, her spirit travels with LCA to NYC on April 1, 2020, hosted by ReelAbilities NYC Film Festival, and sponsored by the Kessler Foundation, when we announce the first two recipients of the Barbara Butz Memorial Mentoring Award, an honor envisioned by NDMC and made possible by PolicyWorks and Kessler Foundation.  If you or someone you know is an aspiring media professional, filmmaker or storyteller with a disability, hope you will apply at this link: Deadline for LCA NYC applications is Monday, March 9th at 8 pm ET. 

Barbara’s spirit will also be with us at LCA San Diego on June 7, 2020 for Veterans with Disabilities, hosted by Options for All in collaboration with SDSU’s Interwork Institute; at LCA Baltimore in September 2020, in collaboration with Loyola University Maryland and Towson; at LCA Hollywood in Fall 2020 in collaboration with ReelAbilities Los Angeles Film Festival; at LCA Boston, sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation; LCA Seattle; and LCA Sacramento, hosted by Access Sacramento in collaboration with YO! Disabled & Proud.

The LCA Collaborative operates with three objectives:

  • Increase employment of people with disabilities in front of, and behind the camera/keyboard in all forms of media – TV, movies, advertising, news, theatre and interactive, including video games;
  • Improve disability portrayals across genres and delivery platform; and
  • Ensure access to media with captions and audio descriptions.

We love you Barbara, miss you and will never forget you. Your legacy lives on through good works like the LCA Collaborative, PolicyWorks, and the lessons you taught us that we now pay forward. Lead On – and rest in power.