The Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) hosted their annual Disability Employment Awareness Breakfast at the Downtown Hilton Hotel on Monday, October 22, 2012. This year’s breakfast was chaired by Tina Jones, DRS Corporate Connections and emceed by WATE TV’s Lori Tucker. This was the second year Ms. Tucker served as the emcee for the Breakfast. In addition, Mayor Madeline Rogero attended this breakfast and presented a proclamation publicly recognizing the month of October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.
This year’s featured speaker was Fiona Hawks out of Nashville, TN. Fiona has Downs Syndrome but she certainly hasn’t let that diagnosis hold her back. She lives independently, drives her own car to work, and enjoys working a full-time job with benefits. Fiona attributed much of her success to the support of her parents and the early intervention programs they enrolled her in.
Recognized at this event was KAEC’s Rudy Sullivan Award Winner: Sarah Welton. Each year the Rudy Sullivan Award is bestowed to a person with a disability who has achieved employment success through exceptional motivation and persistence.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month – a highlight of the month is a program called Disability Mentoring Day (DMD). DMD gives students and job seekers with disabilities the opportunity to be matched with workplace mentors according to their expressed career interests. Mentees experience a typical day on the job and learn how to prepare to enter the world of work. Employers gain an increased awareness that people with disabilities represent an overlooked talent pool. DMD is a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).
The Knoxville Area Employment Consortium Steering Committee facilitates DMD each year. This year KAEC matched over 80 students and job seekers with disabilities with 12 different companies. The following companies participated as Mentors for Disability Mentoring Day in 2012:
Bearden United Methodist Child Care
City of Knoxville
Federal Bureau of Investigation
KNoxville Convention Center
Marriott Business Services
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Sam’s Club East
Sam’s Club West