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RaynaRayna Ayward is co-founder and co-chair of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition, which focuses on strengthening the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities. Established in 2014, the 50-member Coalition hosts the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame, honoring exceptional individual mentors and mentoring programs across the country.

Rayna also serves as a board member of PolicyWorks, a national nonprofit that promotes mentorships leading to career connections, and teaches English as a second language at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

As a presidential appointee under President Obama, 2009-2013, Rayna served as Special Assistant to the US Secretary of Education, with a policy focus on college and career readiness and school to work transition. She initiated the Department of Education’s first internship program for youth with disabilities, an interagency collaboration and partnership with the District of Columbia school system that has become a federal model.

 

From 1991 to 2009, Rayna was Executive Director of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, a corporate foundation serving children and youth with disabilities. As the Foundation’s first executive, she launched several signature programs, including the Congressional Internship Program (in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities), which enables college students with disabilities to take part in summer internships on Capitol Hill. Under her leadership, the Foundation provided the first national funding to such nonprofit organizations as Partners for Youth with Disabilities (Boston), Kids Included Together (San Diego), and Project SEARCH (Cincinnati). Working with the Mitsubishi companies, she also mobilized corporate employees to initiate volunteer programs addressing needs in their local communities.

Rayna has extensive overseas experience, having served as a teacher, journalist, and diplomat in Latin America and the Middle East. Throughout her career, education, inclusion, and cross-cultural communications have been priority themes.

A Chicago native, Rayna received a BA in English from Beloit College and an MA in Literature from Boston University.

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About Encore

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Encore is dedicated to providing an excellent and accessible artistic environment for older adults, 55 and over, regardless of experience or ability, who seek arts education and performance opportunities under a professional artist. Encore is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax exempt organization.

All Encore programs are conducted by professional artists who will know how to get the most from their members. So come join the excitement, either as a beginner or at an advanced level. This is an excellent way to learn how to develop or improve your musical abilities, meet new friends, and look forward to an exciting performance schedule.

You’re never too old to try something new—and have the time of your life!

“If I knew I was going to live so long, I'd have taken better care of myself.”― Mickey Mantle