avatar for Anastasia Somoza

Anastasia Somoza

Shield Institute

Anastasia was born and raised in New York City, is fluent in both English and Spanish, and has been a disability rights advocate and human rights defender since the age of nine.  Currently she works as a consultant with the Shield Institute, an organization that enables people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live full, meaningful lives. It all began with Anastasia asking President Bill Clinton to help mainstream her twin sister Alba into the New York City public school system.


Anastasia is also championing a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action that seeks to eliminate the abandonment of babies and children with disabilities in China. This will be accomplished through the realization of a Parent Education and Resource Center that teaches parents in China about children with disabilities and how to care for, nurture and love them.


She recently returned from Beijing, China where she was invited to speak at the Smart Lady Smart Life International Youth Action for Gender Equality and Sustainable Development Forum. It was held in celebration and commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Hillary Clinton’s human rights remarks at the United Nation’s Fourth World Conference on Women where she said, "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights once and for all." During this time abroad she also spoke at the United States Embassy Beijing American Center in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the American's with Disabilities Act.


She graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in government and has completed her coursework and dissertation for her MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science and looks forward to receiving her degree in 2015.

A letter Anastasia wrote, addressing representation of people with disabilities and the importance of forgiveness, was recently published in Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please. The chapter entitled Sorry, Sorry, Sorry outlines an honest and sincere portrayal of how and why Amy and Anastasia met and became friends.


As of recent, Anastasia stole the spotlight at the first night of the Democratic National Convention with a moving speech on Americans with disabilities. A link to her speech below:


My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, July 22

9:30am EDT