Press Release

For Immediate Release


Special guests discuss the importance of preparing the disability community


July 16, 2018 – In 2015, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio declared July “Disability Pride Month” in NYC in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the latest episode of “Prep Talk”, hosts Omar Bourne and Allison Pennisi chat with a team from the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities (MOPD) about the work the City is doing to make New York City more accessible. MOPD’s Commissioner Victor Calise, Walei Sabry, digital accessibility coordinator, and Jonathan Novick, outreach manager, discussed how the city is working to prepare the nearly one million New Yorkers who self-identify as living with a disability before an emergency. Listen to episode 14 on SoundCloud and iTunes.


Victor Calise is the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities. As commissioner, Calise tirelessly advocates for the disability community in all City decision-making. Commissioner Calise chairs the Accessibility Committee of the City Building Code and leads efforts to integrate people with disabilities into the workforce through the NYC: ATWORK employment initiative. He also ensures that disability is at the forefront of technological developments including smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and digital accessibility. Recognized as an expert on disability, the commissioner frequently participates in national and international conferences. A dedicated public servant, Calise previously led efforts within the Department of Parks and Recreation to make the city’s park system—one of the most complex in the world—universally accessible. Calise—an avid athlete—competed in the 1998 Paralympic Games as a member of the U.S. national sled hockey team. A native New Yorker, he is married with two daughters.

Jonathan Novick is the outreach manager for the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Jon creates media materials to support office initiatives, resources, and events. He also manages the office’s social media and website.

Walei Sabry is the digital accessibility coordinator for the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. In his role, Walei makes sure that the city’s digital products are accessible. Born in Egypt and raised in New York, Walei has made significant transitions in life. He lost his sight. Whether it is by conducting website audits, providing staff awareness trainings, or representing the disability community in his everyday life, Walei is constantly changing perceptions one situation at time.

NYC Emergency Management ‘Prep Talk’ Podcast Series:

Get ready for your emergency prep talk! NYC Emergency Management has launched “Prep Talk,” a podcast series that engages listeners about emergency management topics. Listen as NYC Emergency Management hosts Omar Bourne and Allison Pennisi talk with guests who keep our city safe and prepared before, during and after emergencies. You can listen to “Prep Talk” on SoundCloud and iTunes to stay up-to-date on the latest episodes.


MEDIA CONTACT: Nancy Silvestri/Omar Bourne (718) 422-4888

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