UMass Medical School's Work Without Limits to honor efforts to advance employment of individuals with disabilities

October 30, 2014

UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits will honor Marianne Gilmore of the Carroll Center for the Blind, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Statewide Young Adult Council and Wegmans for their efforts in advancing employment of individuals with disabilities. The awards will be bestowed at the second annual “Raise the Bar Hire!” Conference and Career Fair at the Four Points by Sheraton in Norwood on Oct. 30.

Statistics show that people with disabilities face much lower rates of employment than those without disabilities. In Massachusetts, only 33 percent of working age people with disabilities are employed versus 76 percent of people without disabilities, according to the American Community Survey.

“Work Without Limit’s goal is to improve the employment rate of people with disabilities, which is significantly lower than people without disabilities in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Alexis D. Henry, ScD, OTR/L I, director of UMass Medical School’s Disability Health and Employment Policy Unit. “It will take the collective efforts of many to make this goal a reality. These individuals and organizations are being recognized because of their commitment to being part of that positive change.”

The Leadership Award will be presented to the Massachusetts Statewide Young Adult Council (SYAC) for leading by example, changing minds, addressing stigma, and promoting employment for young adults. The Leadership Award is presented to an organization that goes above and beyond to advance the employment of people with disabilities in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health created SYAC in 2006 for young adults with mental health needs between the ages of 16 and 25 years old to voice their concerns and ideas for mental health services and supports during a young person’s transition into adulthood. 

The Collaboration Award will be presented to Wegmans for instilling a corporate culture of inclusion and diversity that starts with executive management and is evident at each store location and within each department.  As they continue to expand their business footprint in Massachusetts, Wegmans has proactively sought out and sustained community partnerships to help identify, recruit and hire qualified candidates with disabilities.  The Collaboration Award is presented to an organization that demonstrates outstanding collaborative efforts to recruit and hire individuals with disabilities into their organization. Wegmans is a nearly 100-year-old company based in New York State that operates more than 85 supermarkets across the country.

The Partnership Award will be presented to Marianne Gilmore of the Carroll Center for the Blind for being a key leader in the employment field, for exemplifying the spirit of collaboration in all she does, and for building and sustaining positive and productive partnerships with multiple organizations and individuals while keeping a critical eye on the needs of both her clients, the employers who hire them, and the community organizations she partners with. The Partnership Award is given to an individual who exemplifies outstanding leadership and dedication to the field of vocational rehabilitation.

In addition to the awards, the conference will feature keynote speakers, break-out sessions, networking opportunities, exhibitors and a career fair. It will be co-hosted by Laura Stout, director of Contract Operations for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Patrick Flavin, assistant vice president and director of Workforce Initiatives at The TJX Companies, and Paul Francisco, vice president of Workforce Development Programs and Global Inclusion at State Street Corporation.

The keynote addresses will be presented by Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, and John Robinson, managing partner and CEO of Our Ability, Inc.

Conference sponsors include Boston Children’s Hospital, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, National Grid, Seven Hills Foundation and Affiliates, TD Bank and TJX Companies.

A statewide network of employers and partners, Work Without Limits is part of the Disability, Health and Employment Policy unit within the Commonwealth Medicine division of UMass Medical School.

For more information, including the full conference schedule, visit the conference website.

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