Shelly Christensen, MA literally wrote the book on inclusion of people with disabilities, the Jewish Community Guide to Inclusion of People with Disabilities. Her award-winning work as Program Manager of the Minneapolis Jewish Community Inclusion Program for People with Disabilities at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis led her to co-found Jewish Disability Awareness Month with the Jewish Special Education Consortium. Shelly’s work as founder and Executive Director of Inclusion Innovations, where she provides training, organizational and community development, and strategic planning so Jewish organizations and communities can become more welcoming and inclusive, is the standard in the field of sacred community inclusion. Shelly is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware which, she writes, “changed everything I believed about including people with disabilities and their families in the Jewish community and transformed my work as a change leader.”
She is co-founder of the new Jewish Leadership Institute on Disabilities and Inclusion funded by the Ruderman Family Foundation. Shelly speaks at numerous conferences including Union for Reform Judaism Biennial, ADVANCE, Jewish Federation of North America’s General Assembly, the 2012 Disability Inclusion Initiative, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, World Union for Progressive Judaism and numerous local conferences including Dallas, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Boulder and Los Angeles. Her articles on inclusion and parent perspectives have appeared in journals and magazines, and she has published chapters in a number of books including “Judaism and Health,” and the “Jewish Funders Network Disabilities for Funders.”
Shelly serves as President of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Religion and Spirituality Division. She is also adjunct faculty on disability and inclusion for the Union for Reform Judaism and serves on the advisory board for the new URJ Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Initiative. Her personal experiences navigating both secular and Jewish worlds as the parent of a child with a disability gave her the inspiration to innovate the field. Shelly lives in Minneapolis with her husband Rick and their two Shelties, Ziva and Yafi.