The Ruderman Family Foundation has today announced that award-winning actress, director, producer, entrepreneur, and activist Eva Longoria is the recipient of its 2023 Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion.
The Foundation, which has spent more than two decades advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout society, is recognizing Longoria’s longtime, impassioned, personally inspired commitment to enriching the lives of people with disabilities.
“I’m so honored to be recognized as the recipient of this year’s Morton E. Ruderman Award,” said Longoria. “My older sister Liza was born with an intellectual disability, so my mom instilled in all of us early on the importance of giving back to our community, which is why I founded Eva’s Hereos to provide a platform to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities around the country.”
“For me, disability rights are human rights and the voices of people with disabilities should be heard,” Longoria continued. “I have dedicated my adult life to make sure that they are heard. Let’s work together to build an equitable, inclusive society that empowers people of all abilities.”
In 2006, Longoria, whose older sister Liza was born with an intellectual disability, founded Eva’s Heroes — a nonprofit dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities by providing an inclusive setting built on four tenets: interact, grow, love, and learn. It provides an opportunity for teens and adults to enjoy unique recreation and socialization experiences in its community. In her many candid conversations about her own experience growing up alongside her sister’s intellectual disability, and the inspiration she’s been able to glean from Liza, Longoria has impacted the lives of many individuals with intellectual disabilities both in action and through her status as a public figure.
Upon the establishment of Eva’s Heroes, Longoria said, “I am blessed with a sister who has special needs. Now, I want to impact the lives of similar young adults nationwide.” Indeed, Longoria’s national impact was recognized in 2019, when she received the HollyRod Humanitarian Award for her work around autism awareness. Further, in 2015, Variety honored Longoria with a visionary award, presented by Lifetime, for being a leader in taking steps toward inclusion both in front of and behind-the-scenes of small screen programming. The Director of Flamin’ Hot also founded the Eva Longoria Foundation in 2012 to help Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship.
Longoria joins a notable list of recipients of the Morton E. Ruderman Award, including the likes of actor, producer, recording artist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Selena Gomez; five-time NBA All-Star Kevin Love; decorated Olympian Michael Phelps; Academy Award-nominated actor Taraji P. Henson; acclaimed filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly; Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin; former United States Senator and driving force behind the Americans with Disability Act, Tom Harkin; disability self-advocate Ari Ne’eman; and Harvard University Professor Dr. Michael Stein. The award, now in its 10th year, was named after Morton E. Ruderman, the founder of the Ruderman Family Foundation.