ABCD Institute > Institute Faculty > Active Faculty > Al Etmanski

Al Etmanski

Al Etmanski is an author, community organizer and social entrepreneur. Since the birth of his daughter, he has been an activist in the family arm of the disability movement. He co-foundered Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), assisting families to address the financial and social well-being of their relatives with disabilities, particularly after their parents die. PLAN has spread to more than 40 locations around the world. He proposed and led the successful campaign to establish the world’s first savings plan for people with disabilities (Registered Disability Savings Plan). Al is currently involved in a campaign to establish the world’s first Basic Income for disabled people, The Canada Disability Benefit.

In addition to his continuing work addressing the poverty and social isolation of people with disabilities, Al is curious about the role of culture (habits, attitudes, beliefs) in helping or hindering social, economic and environmental justice. He is interested in what unites us particularly the omnipresence of natural caring (for each other and our environment) which he considers a universal that transcends ideology and background. When he grows up he'd like to be a peacemaker.

Al was the first Canadian accepted into Ashoka’s global fellowship of social entrepreneurs. He has been a faculty member of John McKnight’s Asset-Based Community Development Institute since 1995. 

He is the author of three best selling books. His new book, The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for surviving, Thriving and Changing the World was published in 2020. Michael J. Fox’s front cover endorsement read: "This book reminds us of what we have in common – the power to create a good life for ourselves and for others no matter what the world has in store for us.”  

Al blogs regularly at ; tweets at: @aletmanski and can be reached at: And if you need a social change quote from not your usual sources check out: