Beit Issie Shapiro: A safe space providing for people with disabilities

Get to know Ahmir Lerner, the Executive Director of Israel’s leading disabilities organization, Beit Issie Shapiro.

 Ahmir Lerner (photo credit: BEIT ISSIE SHAPIRO)
Ahmir Lerner
(photo credit: BEIT ISSIE SHAPIRO)

AHMIR LERNER, CEO BEIT ISSIE SHAPIRO

Ahmir Lerner, the Executive Director of Israel’s leading disabilities organization Beit Issie Shapiro, did not always work in the social sector. 

Born in New York to Israeli parents, Lerner made Aliya to Israel when he was in the sixth grade. When the time came to enlist into the IDF, he entered the Israel Air Force followed by spending the majority of his professional career working for over twenty years in various executive positions in the Prime Minister’s Office. 

Ready for a change, Ahmir decided to break into education by entering a fellowship program at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. Here, along with his former role in defense and securities, Ahmir gained perspective on the challenges within Israeli society which led to him assuming his role in leading Beit Issie Shapiro forward into the future. 

Ahmir’s former experiences lend to his approach to operations at Beit Issie Shapiro- an organization actively seeking to positively impact people with disabilities and our society. 

 Ahmir Lerner (credit: EREZ HARUDI) Ahmir Lerner (credit: EREZ HARUDI)

WHY BEIT ISSIE SHAPIRO

With his career change, Lerner hoped to find a place of the impact that is truly making a difference.

For over forty years and counting, Beit Issie Shapiro serves as the pioneering leader and innovator in the field of disabilities; providing services and sharing models that improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities; impacting 500,000+ people annually. The organization’s mission is to create a more inclusive society by advancing rights and opportunities for people with disabilities in Israel and around the world. 

“As an organization, our main focus is on creating social change through working according to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities core principle “Nothing About Us Without Us”: working together with people with disabilities; understanding their needs, and creating a reality where they are active participants and have equity in our society.”

“Beit Issie Shapiro fulfills everything I was looking for with my choice in switching career paths- to have a true impact through education, technology, and advocacy together with a dedicated professional staff.”

WHAT AHMIR’S PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE BRINGS TO THE TABLE

Ahmir has used his prior experience to move the organization forward toward its vision of ensuring all people with disabilities, across all demographics, cultures and ranges of disabilities, would have equal opportunity as active participants in Israeli society. Ahmir continues to push forward with a focus in the areas of assistive technology, and inclusion as well as bringing awareness to disabilities in the Arab sector and pushing for equal services and opportunities for people with disabilities in regards to education, culture and innovation. 

He is also building the business aspect of the organization and increasing its income through self-generating fees-for-services which includes training courses and consultation for disability professionals across the country and around the world and outpatient therapy and services. 

WHAT MAKES BEIT ISSIE SHAPIRO UNIQUE

Beit Issie Shapiro operates under a unique model: INNOVATING models of service based on needs we detect in the field of disabilities, RESEARCHING to validate these models for best practice to be replicated in Israel and globally and then SCALING to share these verified models and knowledge with the field so people with disabilities worldwide can benefit. 

We share knowledge of best practices in the field through global professional partnerships with governments and disabilities organizations in 30+ countries around the world and by training disabilities professionals. To date, Beit Issie Shapiro has trained over 90,000 professionals in Beit Issie Shapiro’s verified models of best practices. 

As leaders in the field, since 2012, Beit Issie Shapiro maintains special consultative status with the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council; allowing us to play a significant role as key players in the global field of disabilities.  

Beit Issie Shapiro is constantly thinking ahead and looking to have the greatest impact on society and the field of disabilities. It is part of the organization’s DNA. For example, over thirty years ago we opened the first Early Intervention Center for forty toddlers with disabilities. Realizing it was not sustainable for us to serve all who need this service, instead of opening more Beit Issie Shapiro Early Intervention Center branches, we worked together with the government to change policy and passed The Rehabilitative Daycare Law which states that every child with disabilities is entitled to this service. Now there are 130+ Early Intervention Centers throughout Israel based on our model.

Ahmir Lerner (credit: BEIT ISSIE SHAPIRO)Ahmir Lerner (credit: BEIT ISSIE SHAPIRO)

Currently, Ahmir is leading Beit Issie Shapiro’s establishment of Israel’s first Inclusive Early Childhood Education Campus for toddlers with and without disabilities; a significant step in creating acceptance and inclusion in the future of Israeli society.  This will serve as a model to be replicated in Israel and around the world.

Beit Issie Shapiro has launched a campaign funding creative outlets for children with disabilities ahead of Passover. To donate, click here.