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Jordan Berger '17

See Jordan's Fall 2017 Update

Per her professor: "Every interaction with Jordan leaves me awestruck by how powerfully her intellectual work and political advocacy intersect."

This year's JFK Award winner is Jordan Berger, an ILR graduate with a minor in Law and Society. A native of Fort Wayne, IN, Jordan has shown a commitment to the disabled and to disability issues from her youngest years. Her passion, and the consistency of her efforts, persuaded the selection committee that she will certainly accomplish her goal of taking her calling to the national level. Her intention is "to elevate the voices of members of the disability community who feel as though they are not being properly represented."

At Cornell, Jordan worked to make shared governance more accessible and inclusive of all students.  She was President of the Cornell Undergraduate Student Assembly after serving as the Assembly's Parliamentarian for three years.  Additionally, she was actively involved in the Hillel community, including as a member of the inaugural Hillel International Student Cabinet.  She also founded and presided over the Cornell Interfaith Council.  Her many honors include a Cornell Tradition Fellowship and membership in Mortar Board and Quill and Dagger. She was a Harvard Public Policy Leadership Conference participant in 2015.

Jordan receiving the award from Dick Church '64

As a disability rights advocate, Jordan spent three summers in internships for both the US and the Israeli Governments. In Israel, she researched alternatives to sheltered workshops for the Israeli Commission on Equal Rights for People with Disabilities. Her US assignments began in the White House Office of Public Engagement, working on projects associated with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act. A second internship at the State Department enabled her to compile information to support the creation of a class on civil rights for Foreign Service Officers. This internship was so successful that Jordan continues to advise a former supervisor on a social media platform addressing the rights of the disabled worldwide. 

Jordan will build her credentials at NYU Law, which the award will help to finance.  She wrote to the class that "I know the journey will be challenging, but I look forward to the opportunity to learn and serve throughout the next three years in New York City." 

The Class of 1964 JFK Award has underwritten the career starts of Cornellians in a wide range of public service fields.  We are very proud to make work in the service of disability rights the centerpiece of this year's award, and we welcome Jordan Berger to the ranks of our winners.


Fall 2017 Update from Jordan

“This summer, I had the opportunity to teach a four-week course on social justice to high schoolers at a summer camp. I have (almost) survived my first semester of law school; we begin our finals next week! I have really been enjoying my Lawyering class, which is the legal writing program at NYU. At NYU, I also had the opportunity to represent my first client in an unemployment benefits hearing through the Unemployment Action Center. I was also appointed to the board of the Disability Allied Law Student Association and as a trip leader for iTrek (a spring break trip to Israel for law students). Although I am really missing my time at Cornell, I had the opportunity to go back to Ithaca for Homecoming, to help facilitate an Intergroup Dialogue event in NYC, and to meet several alumni through the newly created Cornell’s Jewish Young Alumni Network.”