Yeshima Cephus, Disability Rights DC (DRDC)’s Disability Rights Advocate, is one of ULS’ latest hires! Yeshima works under the PAIMI, TBI, and PADD programs to ensure the wellbeing of DC residents with mental illness, traumatic brain injury, and/or developmental disabilities. Learn about Yeshima in this month’s staff feature.

       Yeshima’s commitment to mental health care and disability rights developed early in her life, as she grew up surrounded by family and community members living with disabilities. Yeshima pursued a master’s degree in social work from Stony Brook University with a specialization in Integrated Health and Clinical Social Work. Through this course of study, she looked forward to providing people with integrated, individual-centered therapeutic services as a clinical social worker. This model involves a high level of interdisciplinary collaboration between various experts and the individual that best supports and improves the overall wellbeing of the latter.

       During her time at Stony Brook, Yeshima interned for Manhattan Legal Services, where she gained experience in providing trauma-informed care to individuals with disabilities. She specifically worked with Social Work services at Manhattan Legal Services, which provides therapeutic and advocacy services to people from low-income backgrounds. These services include making sure that individuals have access to needed benefits, housing, legal representation, medical services, and more.

       After graduating, Yeshima first worked as a Health Home Transition Specialist at Puerto Rican Family Institute, Inc. in New York City. She specifically supported residents in large adult homes across the city as they transitioned to independent living in their communities. This process involves ensuring that clients have access to needed community-based and home-based care services, supporting clients’ relatives through the discharge process, locating appropriate housing, and more. Because of this experience, as well as her work at Manhattan Legal Services, Yeshima decided to pursue disability rights advocacy at ULS.

       Yeshima began working as ULS’ disability rights advocate in March of 2023. Having lived in New York City her whole life, she decided to move to the District and expose herself to different parts of the US. As a disability rights advocate, Yeshima supports individuals as they transition to community living, connects them with appropriate community-based services, assists them with housing concerns, and more. This individual advocacy is Yeshima’s favorite part of the job. She loves witnessing clients get their needs met and is grateful for the trust that clients place in her every day. In addition to this individual-level work, Yeshima monitors conditions in community residential facilities and institutions that offer mental health services. She ensures that people in these institutions are housed in humane conditions, observes client-provider interactions, and responds to any claims of abuse or neglect. She also regularly performs outreach at these facilities, training institutionalized people on their rights, services available to them, the discharge process, and other resources.

       We are so grateful to have Yeshima on our team and take this opportunity to celebrate her unwavering dedication to her clients and all Washingtonians with disabilities. In her free time, Yeshima enjoys playing with Laila (her kitten), trying new restaurants, finding activities around the city, and playing video games. 


Yeshima smiles at the camera.

Image description: Yeshima, a Black woman with long, brown hair wearing hoop earrings, a necklace, and a white shirt, smiles at the camera.


Published: October 26, 2023