NEA Big Read Kick-Off

Join us on April 19th for the official kick off of our citywide reading revolution! NEA Big Read author, Rebekah Taussig and Executive Director of National Disability Rights Network Marlene Sallo will join us virtually for a keynote and conversation. Free copies of Sitting Pretty will be available for all attendees.


Rebekah Taussig

My name is Rebekah. I am a Kansas City writer who lives in a very small, very old house with my fussy family of tenderhearted snugglers. I’ve spent most of my life immersed  in the world of writing and reading – as a student, teacher, and human person – because I believe that words and stories matter. I am interested in the powerful connection between the cultural narratives we tell and the world we live in, from physical spaces and economic opportunities to social roles and interpersonal relationships.

I earned a PhD in Creative Nonfiction and Disability Studies from the University of Kansas, and I write personal essays that participate in the stories being told about disability, some of which are linked on this website. I also run an Instagram account, @sitting_pretty, where I regularly craft “mini-memoirs” that explore what it means to live in my particular (disabled, female) body. My memoir in essays, Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body is out now with HarperOne! The book is born from the most personal place, swaddled in academic knowledge, and shaped by the voice I’ve been honing online for years. It provides a nuanced portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most.

For more details on my educational and professional background, see my curriculum vitae.
For teaching resources, see my philosophy of teaching and sample syllabi.
I am represented by Laura Lee Mattingly at Present Perfect Literary Agency.


Marlene Sallo

Marlene Sallo is the first woman, first Latina, and first person with a disability to lead NDRN. She believes that amplifying where disability intersects with other identities such as LGBTQIA+, non-native English speakers, and Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color is critical component of successful advocacy.

Before joining NDRN, Sallo served as Director of Preventing Targeted Violence at the McCain Institute for International Leadership.  She previously served for almost four years as executive director of the Massachusetts Disability Law Center (DLC), the federally designated Protection and Advocacy agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Earlier in her career, Sallo was an education attorney with Disability Rights Florida, providing protection and advocacy to students with disabilities and children in the state’s child welfare system.

Sallo was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 2013. She later worked for the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service as chief of staff and senior counsel. Sallo has a B.A. from Manhattanville College and a J.D. from Florida State University.


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