DRNC is thrilled to partner with North Carolina Reading Service on their radio show, “Legal Matters”. The North Carolina Reading Service (NCRS) has been operating as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit serving the blind and print-impaired community since 1983. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, the service, founded by North Carolina State Professor Doctor Ed Funkhouser and Raleigh businessman Ben Eason, provides news and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. NCRS provides quality programming with daily live broadcasts of the News and Observer and USA Today.

November 2023

For this month’s podcast episode, DRNC’s Communications Coordinator, Jen Andrew, interviewed Advocate Jolona Kinlaw and Attorney Reighlah Collins of DRNC’s Education Team. We had a lively conversation about student’s rights in school, and how to help your children with disabilities and others in your family navigate the holiday season.

Read more about these education team members and what brings them to this work!

Reighlah Collins, Attorney, and Jolona Kinlaw, Advocate

What brings Jolona Kinlaw to DRNC and the education team is disability rights advocacy. She has been in advocacy for almost three years and her journey began with her son, who is on the autism spectrum and has several significant needs. Jolona has learned a lot through this journey of navigating mental health, school, and medical systems. What gives Jolona hope is people’s heart to see change and their passion to include those who have disabilities and may not have a voice. What keeps her going is knowing if we stop advocating for students with disabilities, especially those who cannot advocate for themselves, they will no longer be represented or heard.

Reighlah Collins is an attorney on the education team. Her parents have always worked in disability-related fields and she has a brother with a disability. Reighlah worked at a group home for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and through experiences in law school, fell in love with education law. What keeps Reighlah going in this work is seeing positive outcomes for students. She loves helping a struggling student who has experienced exclusion get back into school and ride the bus for the first time as it is such an achievement for them. She sees how happy and so proud of themselves they are. Helping a student get to that point really her excited about doing this work.

Listen to our podcast here!


View November Transcript

October 2023

This month, Jen Andrew interviewed Alexandra Southerland, Housing Attorney with DRNC. They discussed housing discrimination as it relates to people with disabilities. DRNC improves equal access to housing by making sure people with disabilities are free from disability-based discrimination and harassment. We also advocate for housing programs and resources for people with disabilities, represent clients who are at risk of eviction because of their disability, and provide trainings on housing rights for people with disabilities.

Learn more about DRNC’s housing work.

Listen to the recent podcast episode here!


View October Transcript

September 2023

People with disabilities are 2-4 times more likely to develop a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). In this episode, Jen Andrew, Sara Harrington, and Dane Mullis of Disability Rights of North Carolina engage in an important discussion about protections for those with SUD under disability laws on Legal Matters. Listen in at the link below!


View September Transcript

August 2023

In this episode, Jen Andrew, DRNC’s Communications Coordinator, interviews Reighlah Collins, Attorney on DRNC’s Education team and Jolona Kinlaw, Advocate on DRNC’s Education team.  They talk about the critical work of DRNC’s Education team and what parents can expect as they send their children with disabilities back to school this year.

Find out more about the work of DRNC’s Education team.

And listen to the podcast episode here:


View August Transcript

July 2023

This month, Disability Rights North Carolina celebrates Disability Pride Month! In this episode, Casey Mason, Development Coordinator interviews Jen Andrew, Communications Coordinator, and Stacy Gannon, Investigator/Advocate. They talk about their experience with disability, their paths to diagnosis and what disability pride means to them.

Don’t miss this great conversation!

Listen to the podcast episode here.


View July Transcript

June 2023

June 1 was the official start to the hurricane season. In this episode, Cas Shearin, DRNC’s Media Strategist/Senior Writer, interviews Curtis Hill, Advocate for DRNC.  They discussed how to be prepared this hurricane season.  Preparation and knowing your rights, especially for the disabled community are critical pieces of information to know before disaster strikes. Don’t miss this great conversation!

Curtis Hill joined DRNC in April 2019 as an advocate for the agency’s emergency management and disaster relief efforts where he assisted people with disabilities affected by Hurricane Florence. Raised in Eastern North Carolina, he brings a personal connection to the community, as well as a wealth of nonprofit experience, to his role at DRNC. In his spare time, Hill is often seen marshalling collective action on community issues and advocating for local policy changes to advance the ideals of equity and social justice through various civic organizations in his community.

Learn how to prepare for a natural disaster, including hurricanes here Disaster Recovery Project – DRNC (disabilityrightsnc.org)

Listen to the podcast episode here


View June Transcript

May 2023

In this episode, Cas Shearin, DRNC’s Media Strategist/Senior Writer, interviews Ed Rizzuto, DRNC’s Board Chair. They discussed our recent conference and Ed’s ongoing community advocacy work in Durham. Don’t miss this great conversation!

Ed Rizzuto joined the DRNC Board of Directors in February, 2020. He initially became involved with DRNC in 2017 as a pro bono attorney, providing assistance to clients seeking to pursue discrimination claims with the EEOC. He obtained his law degree and law license in California where he practiced employment, civil rights, personal injury and child abuse law. Since moving to Durham in 2015, Ed has devoted a great deal of his time and energy to embracing, supporting and advocating for North Carolina’s community of people who are blind or visually impaired. Together with a couple of friends, Ed organized Durham’s vibrant and thriving Vision InSights Support and Advocacy Group in 2017. We are so grateful for Ed’s leadership and service!

Find out more about our recent conference!

Listen to this month’s episode!

April 2023

In this episode, Casey Mason, DRNC’s Development Coordinator talks to Corye Dunn, Director of Public Policy and Tara Muller, Policy Attorney. They talk about the critical work of DRNC’s policy team.

What Does Our Policy Team Do?

We engage in policy and legislative advocacy to protect and expand the rights of people with disabilities. We educate state legislators about the diverse lives and needs of people with disabilities and how a proposed change to a policy or program may impact them. At times, we may work with lawmakers and their staff to draft legislation. We do not use our federal grant funds to pay for lobbying work.


Learn more about the important work of DRNC’s policy team

March 2023

In this episode, Cas Shearin, DRNC’s Media Strategist/Senior Writer, interviews Virginia Knowlton Marcus, DRNC’s Chief Executive Officer about the overall role DRNC plays in the state of North Carolina.

About DRNC

Disability Rights North Carolina is a legal advocacy agency that fights for the rights of people with disabilities in North Carolina. We handle cases involving discrimination, abuse and other rights violations. All of our services are at no cost to North Carolinians with disabilities. We are a private, independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.


February 2023

In this episode, Cas Shearin, DRNC’s Media Strategist/Senior Writer, interviews Corye Dunn, Director of Public Policy and Luke Woollard, Attorney on DRNC’s prison and jails team about DRNC’s recent report.

A Disability Rights NC Report on NC’s Failure to Regulate Dangerous Jails

This report is DRNC’s first comprehensive public report examining and exposing North Carolina’s (NC’s) deeply flawed and dangerous jail regulatory system. This report builds upon our previous work analyzing the persistently dangerous conditions in our state’s jail system. DRNC’s investigation uncovered facilities that were allowed to operate despite chronic inspection failures and dangerous conditions, sometimes with deadly consequences.


January 2023

In this episode, Jen Andrew, DRNC’s Communications Coordinator interviews Kishona Mimms, Supervising Investigator, and Holly Stiles, Assistant Legal Director for Litigation on DRNC’s work in PRTF’s

What are Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities?

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTFs) are places for children and adolescents to go to receive long-term care. Young people are admitted to PRTFs to get mental health treatment.

Many PRTFs fail to provide mental health treatment. They are not caring or trauma-informed places. Instead, staff maintain control through strict rules and routines. Kids and youth there may be abused or neglected. And they are separated from their families. This separation makes it harder to work through family issues. PRTFs are also expensive.

Learn more about DRNC’s work in PRTF’s

December 2022

In this episode, Cas Shearin, DRNC’s Media Strategist/Senior Writer, interviews Lisa Grafstein, Litigation Counsel about the  historic ruling in the Samantha R. case.

What was the recent ruling in the Samantha R case?

On Nov. 2, 2022, Superior Court Judge R. Allen Baddour entered an injunctive relief order in Samantha R., et al. v North Carolina and the NC Department of Health and Human Services. The case, which was filed in May 2017, challenged the lack of adequate home and community-based services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (“I/DD”).

Learn more about Samantha R.’s story

November 2022

In this episode, Cas Shearin, DRNC’s Media Strategist/Senior Writer, interviews Gabriella Bush, a supervising investigator with DRNC. They talk about the critical work of DRNC’s Rep Payee team. DRNC’s dedicated team of six full-time investigators and their supervising investigator partner with the SSA to oversee how representative payees across the state are managing these benefits. 

What does the representative payee team do?

The rep payee team visits all the places that disabled people may live, including: 

  • Houses or apartments in the community, 
  • Group homes 
  • Institutions such as adult care homes, nursing facilities, and facilities for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities 
  • State-operated institutions 


Iris Green, Director of Constituent Services at DRNC, and the Vice President of the NC Reading Service Board of Directors, also contributed to this show.