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Throughout the year, the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings partner with Comerica Bank to celebrate local leaders who are creating positive impact on their communities. July’s Disability Pride Month Game Changers honorees have made significant efforts to improve the lives of those with disabilities and the larger community.

Dessa Cosma – Executive Director & Founder, Detroit Disability Power

Dessa Cosma is a long-time social justice activist and the founding director of Detroit Disability Power, which works to build the organizing and political power of Metro Detroit’s disability community. Cosma started Detroit Disability Power in 2018 as a way to enact change not only for the improvement of the disabled community, but also for the world as a whole. 

“It’s my privilege every single day to uplift the people whose skills go overlooked, and to change our world to make it a better place for us as a disabled people and for everyone who benefits from when we are included,” said Cosma. 

Cosma also played an instrumental role in the creation of the City of Detroit’s Office of Disability Affairs and has provided multiple anti-ableism workshops to city employees, enabling them to better serve the disability community. 

She describes her work to disprove misconceptions about being disabled as “there’s this misunderstanding that disability is a deficit, and in reality, disability provides wisdom and skills that are hugely valuable to our world.”

David Franco – Director of Exceptional Academy, Living and Learning Enrichment Center

David Franco is the Director of Exceptional Academy at the Living and Learning Enrichment Center in Northville. In his position, Franco works with adults with disabilities to advance work skills, specifically in technology. The goal of the Academy is to provide training to adults with disabilities in advanced professional work skills and raise awareness with local companies about the many advantages of working with adults with disabilities as well as educate them in the best ways to do so. 

Franco expressed his gratitude to the supporting companies in surrounding areas. “The work that we do is never ending which means we are always welcoming help, that’s why it’s so important to have the support from big names like Major League Baseball, Comerica Bank, and Ilitch Sports + Entertainment to back us up,” said Franco. 

Franco uses his experience from 20 years of technology sales to successfully recruit students, sponsors, and strategic partners to acquire more opportunities for the disabled community. 

Jamie Junior – ADA Coordinator, Disability Network Wayne County-Detroit

Jaime Junior is a committed disability rights advocate and social justice activist. Junior is currently employed with the Disability Network Wayne County-Detroit as the Advocacy and Community Education Coordinator where she uses her lived experience and skills as a certified ADA coordinator to help others live as independently as possible in the community of their choosing. 

“The work that we do makes the world a better place. If you’ve ever seen a parent fighting to get a stroller over a curb, you’ll realize that the work we do improves their life as well,” said Junior when explaining why her work has benefits beyond the disability community.

Junior is most passionate about community inclusion, belonging, and economic justice for individuals like herself that have a disability. “I did not see representation for myself growing up, so I made sure to become the mentor I wish I had,” said Junior. 

In addition to her role at Disability Network, Junior also serves as the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Michigan and has advocated around the state for great economic opportunities for individuals with disabilities. As a member of the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council, she helps create programs and policies that ensure that people with disabilities, as well as their families and friends, have equitable access to the tools they need to thrive and achieve their dreams.

Raphael Mostyn – Founder and President, Mostyn Community Development 

Raphael Mostyn began working The RISE Program, an academic enrichment program as a math interventionist, eventually serving as director of the organization. In 2016, Mostyn started Mostyn Community Development, an initiative to build and encourage to students who are deemed at-risk, underprivileged, and/or have special needs to take pride in their community while also teaching them personal skills needed in their lives such as diligence and critical thinking. 

Through his work at the program, he has impacted the lives of many. “We have over 100 students at paid internships, which is absolutely amazing to see them excelling at doing the things that they love,” said Mostyn.