UMass Medical School's Work Without Limits to honor the Boston Bruins for leadership in hiring individuals with disabilities

October 26, 2015

UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits will honor the Boston Bruins for their leadership in advancing workplace diversity by hiring individuals with disabilities. The award will be presented to the Bruins during the third annual Work Without Limits “Raise the Bar Hire!” Conference and Career Fair Oct. 27 and 28 at the Four Points Sheraton in Norwood.

The Exemplary Employer Award will be presented to Bob Sweeney, executive director of the Boston Bruins Foundation and former Boston Bruins player, Oct. 27. John Dunleavy, an employee of the Boston Bruins who has Down syndrome, will receive the Exemplary Employee Award.

“Work Without Limits is excited to honor the Boston Bruins with our Exemplary Employer Award this year. Through their partnership with the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, the Boston Bruins have been key leaders and advocates for hiring individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental and intellectual disabilities,” Kathy Petkauskos, director of Work Without Limits, said. “The Boston Bruins are true champions of including people with disabilities within their workplaces. Work Without Limits looks forward to a continued partnership with the Boston Bruins as we strive to reach our goal of Massachusetts becoming the first state in the nation in which the employment rate of individuals with disabilities is equal to that of people without disabilities. It is model employers such as the Boston Bruins that will help us reach that goal.”

The Boston Bruins were chosen for the award through their participation in the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress’ (MDSC) new public awareness campaign, Your Next Star. Sweeney and Dunleavy, who has worked for the Boston Bruins for five years, appeared in a video featuring individuals with Down syndrome and their employers.

“Bob Sweeney and the Bruins Foundation have been dear friends of the MDSC and our community for many years, including our latest collaboration on our Your Next Star employment campaign. Their commitment to inclusion is exemplified not only by bringing on interns with disabilities and by hiring John, but ultimately by including him as a true member of their team. Bob, the Bruins Foundation and the entire Bruins organization deserve this recognition for sharing our vision of a workplace that welcomes people with Down syndrome and other disabilities and values their contributions,” said Maureen Gallagher, MDSC executive director.

The Boston Bruins shared news of the awards on the team website and with a video on Facebook.

Two additional awards will be presented at the conference. The Work Without Limits Leadership Award will be presented to Partners for Youth with Disabilities; and the Work Without Limits Partnership Award will be given to Richard Berrena of FutureWorks Career Center.

Employers, employment service providers, state agencies and people with disabilities and their families are welcome at the conference. This year’s conference will feature speakers, breakout sessions, and opportunities for networking. A half-day career fair is scheduled for Oct. 28. For the first time, the career fair will include a career coach who will give the job seekers tips about preparing for interviews with prospective employers. Lois Cooper, career coach consultant, will lead the session.

The conference keynote speaker is Bob McDonald, vice president of Common Support and Services at IBM. Conference co-hosts are Laura Stout, director of Contract Operations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and Richard Curtis, vice president of Workforce Development at State Street. Joyce A. Murphy, MPA, executive vice chancellor of UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, and Alexis D. Henry, ScD, OTR/L I, director of Commonwealth Medicine’s Disability, Health and Employment Policy Unit, also will speak.

Linda Long-Bellil, PhD, JD, assistant professor in UMass Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, will facilitate a panel discussion, “The Past, Present and Future of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).” The panelists are: Andrew J. Imparato, executive director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities; Charles Carr of Charlie Carr Consulting and former commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; and Heidi Reed, commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Work Without Limits, a statewide network of employers and community partners in Commonwealth Medicine’s Disability, Health and Employment Policy unit, is working to increase the employment rate of people with disabilities.

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 or actively seeking employment versus 76 percent of people without disabilities, according to the American Community Survey.

For more information about the conference and the schedule, visit the conference website.

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