Conference Access Blogs: Harry Hebeler

Financial Health Network EMERGE 2019 – “Re-Emerging”

by Harry Hebeler

First of all, I’d like to extend a big thanks to my fellow disability ambassadors, The World Institute on Disability team, and JP Morgan Chase for the opportunity to once again participate in Emerge! This is my second year in a row and I remain incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to learn and participate. The accommodations provided were once again exemplary. They allowed me and helped me to experience the conference fully. The WID team’s ability to adjust to the disability ambassadors needs made me feel welcome and appreciated! I had been looking forward to going to Emerge 2019 in Arizona since flying home from 2018’s conference, and Scottsdale did not disappoint!

This year, I have been trying to spend less time in the woods fighting fires, and more time pursuing my passion for personal finance and financial inclusion. Emerge 2019 was simply the best way to start this new journey. The networking opportunities, connections made, and ideas discussed deeply inspired me. Many of my conversations at the conference provided some much needed encouragement and gave me insight into my next steps. It was fantastic to see old friends, continue talking about new ideas and networking with the brilliant cast of people that are involved in putting on Emerge. Last year I wrote about a great dinner I had with Nate Caldwell (MX) and Andrea Galvez (CFSI). One year later I found myself reconnecting with Nate and Andrea, over another awesome meal, and getting both a chance to hear about their lives but also to see and reflect on my own maturation and progress.

5 people pose together on stone pathway
WID’s Disability Ambassadors at dinner with Nate Caldwell (MX) and Andrea Galvez (Financial Health Network)

What I perhaps love most about Emerge is it represents a community of people committed to attacking difficult questions from different angels. For example, a conversation I had with Dani, a fellow Disability Ambassador, and Stephani R. Jones from JP Morgan Chase, focused on the decrease of bank tellers and the rise of new accessibility challenges that come with full-service ATMs and mobile apps. Simply put, not everyone has the ability to use mobile apps or ATMs to their full potential, due to access needs for their disabilities not being considered in the design. The conversation led to the three of us spending the rest of the day bouncing ideas off of one another and sharing our stories. I want to extend another big thank you to Stephani R. Jones from JP Morgan Chase for her words of wisdom and interest in disability.

When reflecting on this experience, I came across this quote in my notebook from the conference that I think speaks directly to what both Emerge and the Conference Accessibility Initiative are trying to do: “You have to meet people where they are, and do things that are different, and let people see that we are people too.” At Emerge, I felt capable and confident, and extremely excited about my future. At the end of the day, if companies and organizations are willing to put in the effort to support our diverse and talented community, the rewards and solutions could be exponential. And if anyone asked me about my experience at Emerge I’d tell them, “You can’t go wrong!”

Would you like to be a Disability Ambassador with WID and JP Morgan & Chase? Applications for 2020 are now available!

To read more about our Disability Ambassadors’ experiences at Emerge 2019, follow either link below:

Danielle Anderson’s Emerge blog
Christina Mills’ Emerge blog

For more Disability Ambassador blogs, check out our Conference Accessibility Initiative 2019 page.

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