On Tuesday, June 19th, over 130 young professionals gathered for NCLD’s second annual Summer Soiree reception at Above Allen, a rooftop bar and restaurant in New York City. The Summer Soiree brings together young professionals who are passionate about providing educational and professional opportunities for people with learning disabilities (LD).
Many Soiree attendees are themselves people with LD; others are drawn to the cause because of a friend or family member who struggles with learning. At the event, guests were able to speak freely about growing up with LD and the struggles they’ve overcome.
Two host committee members, Josh Wexler and Katelynn Smith, addressed the audience about their experiences with LD. Wexler mentioned the lengthy process of LD evaluation he went through, and throughout the room, attendees nodded their heads in agreement and understanding. Smith reiterated the importance of pushing through the struggles of LD. “I just want people with LD to know that they should never give up.. You can accomplish anything, even with an LD.”
As the guests listened to Wexler and Smith, it was evident that many in the audience felt a connection to the speakers. “What I like about this event is that young professionals get to share their stories,” said Marcus Soutra, Managing Director of Project Eye to Eye. “You need to share your story to bring awareness. There is nothing more valuable than hearing about learning disabilities from those who have them.”
In addition to listening to the personal stories shared by people with LD, many friends and family members attended the event to learn more about LD and support NCLD’s work. “[This was] a great opportunity,” said Rachel Mann. “My younger sister has LD and I was really happy to come [to the Soiree] because I am supporting her. I will continue to support the event, along with the outreach and fundraising because I think it is a great cause.”
The night wasn’t only focused around the emotional stories about the struggles that come with LD. As the mini sliders and shrimp skewers were passed around, guests were able to see the triumphs of young professionals with LD. Jeffrey Plevan noted that the event was a great networking opportunity. “For accomplished LD people, this is a great way to network and know that there are other people who have become very successful.. At events like this, you could meet people with LD who have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, CEO’s…It’s great to see.”
For these reasons and more, Josh Wexler believes that the Soiree is one of the most important events NCLD hosts each year. “As a 20-something in New York, you get out of college and you’re like, ‘I’m done with my LD, I’m done learning in school.’ However, it has a lot of effects on your work and relationships. It seems like there is no place you can come and talk about LD in a safe environment,” said Wexler. “But tonight, at this event, young professionals [can do that]. There needs to be more events like tonight because there really are a lot of people here that don’t have anywhere else to go.”
To learn how you can get involved in future events for young professionals with LD, contact Elizabeth Sherman at