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Celebrating Stars: 28th Annual Awards
This year marks the 28th anniversary of CAREERS & the disABLED’s Annual Employee and Employer of the Year Awards. Find out on the following pages who the 2020 winners are, and join us in celebrating this year’s talented and deserving winners - all stars in their own right - as we honor their roles as trailblazers and advocates.
For more than a quarter of a century CAREERS & the disABLED has been acknowledging and celebrating the personal and professional achievements of remarkable individuals with disabilities via its Annual Employee of the Year Awards.
The awards committee assigned to choose this year’s roster of 10 talented and noteworthy role models profiled in this issue found each winner to have made prodigious contributions to the workforce in and outside of his and her respective workplace, and the community outside of work.
We unveil this year’s winners on the following pages. Read on for a special look that honors the roles of each winning individual as a trailblazer and advocate while underscoring his or her unique expertise, career highlights and advocacy for the Disability Community.
In addition, we reveal this year’s Employer of the Year winners. CAREERS & the disABLED recognizes JPMorgan Chase & Co. with the Private-Sector Employer of the Year Award and U.S. Department of State (DOS) with the Public-Sector Employer of the Year Award.
The congratulatory section honoring this year’s winners in this issue kicks off with their company profiles, underscoring their commitment to recruiting, hiring, retaining and promoting people with disabilities.
Employee of the Year: Dalton Bradley, Sandia National Laboratories
Bradley Shows Immeasurable Value & Advances Inclusion at Sandia
Dalton Bradley is an experienced project controller at Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia), supporting the nation’s weapons modernization programs.
He’s an invaluable member of the organization, and he’s revered as a subject matter expert in earned value management systems (EVMS),” says nominator Victoria Newton, MBA, PMP, a Sandia project manager and a Disability Awareness Committee chair.
In fact, she further points out that he’s established several programs’ EVMS processes, guidelines, and templates, which continue to be used by dozens of teams and to add immeasurable value to his customers.
In addition to Bradley’s challenging work role, he’s an engaged employee and actively volunteers to influence the company culture, including his several roles that create an inclusive environment and opportunities for individuals with diverse backgrounds and abilities.
For instance, he also serves as the chair for the aforementioned Disability Awareness Committee, Sandia’s employee resource group (ERG) supporting individuals with disabilities. Its main emphasis is to bring awareness to the members of the workforce regarding the unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, educating executive management and informing policy and processes, creating resources and hosting events, and recruiting, hiring, and retaining individuals with diverse skills and abilities.
Bradley is also the lead of Sandia National Laboratories (California) Division 8000 Diversity Council (DDC). DDC is a strategic corporate initiative to collaborate and align the dozen ERGs at the Sandia California site to enhance diversity by building awareness, creating resources, and informing senior leadership.
Via DDC, Bradley has worked to obtain and implement best practices by collaborating with community organizations, government agencies, and other national laboratories (e.g., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) to create resources for all members of the workforce and the wider Bay Area community.
“Dalton has bravely shared his story throughout the laboratory (from staff to executive management) of what life with spastic cerebral palsy looks like for him, how one’s day-to-day life might differ, and how those challenges don’t interfere with his ability to be an instrumental contributor and top performer,” notes Newton.
“Through his vulnerable and honest efforts, he’s started the conversation about how every individual can practice inclusion and empathy, and embrace differences by focusing on every individual’s strengths and unique abilities. Dalton has opened the door for other individuals with disabilities to feel like the workplace is safe and
accepting for them to bring their whole selves to work - regardless of disability status.”
In Bradley’s spare time, he runs half marathons, surfs, and rides horses on the California beaches, participates in support groups and sports teams outside of the workplace, continuously learns new skills and sharpens old ones, and cares deeply about his family, friends, and coworkers with a genuine, empathetic, and compassionate lens.
“He always has a positive and upbeat attitude, works from sincere appreciation, stays
present in every moment, seeks constant improvement, and leads and inspires all those who cross his path,” Newton adds.
Employee of the Year: Ramak Asgari, Lockheed Martin Space
Asgari’s Passion for Advocacy & STEM Education Shine at Lockheed Martin
In December 2019 Ramak Asgari, senior systems engineer at Lockheed Martin Space, was granted the Extraordinary Engineering and Technology Award for her STEM Activities and Community Outreach efforts. And that’s not all.
She was the recipient of 16 NextGen Recognitions in 2019 for organizing successful cultural and student events, sharing knowledge through Tech Talks, recruiting, innovating ideas, and volunteering. In addition, in the past few years, Asgari received four Silver Level President’s Volunteer Service Awards.
“She’s been an exceptional teacher, role model, and advocate through her many engagements internally and externally to the corporation,” says nominator Rich Reis, senior staff engineering design checker at Lockheed Martin Space, adding that, as a member of the campus recruiting team, “Ramak is passionate about bringing engineering students with disabilities to Lockheed Martin.”
To that end, she’s attended the Engineering & Employment event for Engineering Students with Disabilities at the San Jose State University (SJSU) Accessible Education Center. She also presented a Tech Talk at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for the Association for Women in Mathematics, Women in Physics, and Women in Software and Hardware, after which she received an acknowledgement that says, “We are lucky to have such an encouraging female role model in our field.”
Asgari graduated with a 4.0 GPA from SJSU with a master’s degree in engineering. She served as the chapter president of Tau Beta Pi-The Engineering Honor Society. She received an Excellent Student Service Award from the College of Engineering and an Outstanding Disabled Student Award from the Disability Resource Center. She accepted an invitation from the executive director of the Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities to share her workplace experiences about how to empower employees with disabilities. Representatives from major corporations were among the attendees.
“Ramak continues to advocate for individuals with disabilities and brings a unique perspective in teaching,” says Reis.
Asgari taught three engineering courses at SJSU and leveraged her knowledge of learning disabilities to incorporate different methods to address processing information and test anxieties. She also taught mathematics to the homeless and inmates who were pursuing a GED.
She further continues to achieve excellence in her profession by attaining globally recognized certifications via the American Society for Quality: Six Sigma Quality Black Belt and Quality Engineer.
As a Black Belt, she received an Outstanding Performance Award for facilitating six structured improvement activities resulting in reductions of 75% labor hours and $101,400 operation cost. As a result of her cross-functional relationships, Asgari reduced the number of outstanding non-conformance reports by 75% in 27 weeks, and received a Special Recognition Award and Excellence Award for her stellar work.
She also took the initiative to code and implement new templates to capture pertinent metrics for the program’s customers, management, and business operations, and received four awards from company leaders for her innovative ideas.
Asgari remains an invaluable asset to Lockheed Martin while actively advocating for the Able & Allies business resource group, and holding positions with the Professional Asian American Network, the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Awareness, and the Women’s Impact Network.
“She’s a role model within Lockheed Martin and across the industry,” Reis adds.
Employee of the Year: Anthony (Tony) Capriglione, Ally Financial
Capriglione’s Forward Thinking & Passion Benefit Ally’s Customers & Community
Anthony (Tony) Capriglione serves as a private cloud engineer on Ally Financial’s cloud services team. In this role he’s responsible for automating processes with Amazon Web Services and on-site servers.
Capriglione joined Ally in 2017 as part of our Early IT Talent Program, having recently graduated from Michigan State University. He began his professional career as a test engineer where he assisted with the automation of manual test cases, and created new frameworks for applications that Ally customers and employees utilize every day.
As a test engineer, Capriglione led and implemented a project that allowed business users to write application test cases in non-technical terminology to help bridge the gap with development teams. He built the source code and developed the tool for test cases that’s still actively utilized across the function.
“Anthony’s forward thinking helped resolve the barrier that exists between business customers and technical experts, and enabled a more collaborative, efficient process. He also successfully received an Amazon Web Services (AWS) certification for solution architecture in February 2020,” says nominator Les M. Hogg, HR manager, Ally Financial.
“Anthony aspires to become a Senior Fellow in our engineering and operations function where he can serve as the subject matter expert for internal automation efforts. Anthony truly loves the development and engineering work that he’s responsible for, and it’s his passion that helps make Ally better for our customers.”
In addition to Capriglione’s commitment to his technology work, he’s actively involved with Ally’s employee resource groups (ERGs), specifically the Diverse Abilities and Pride Ally’s ERGs, which support community involvement and advocacy efforts.
“The employee resource groups have afforded Anthony the opportunity to build an internal support network while helping shape his communication and interactions with others,” notes Hogg.
Capriglione has been an active champion for the Motor City Pride Parade in Detroit, MI, looking forward to running the Ally photo booth at the parade every year because he loves seeing the joy it brings to people’s faces. He’s also involved with a local non-profit that supports the integration and placement of immigrants in the metro Detroit area.
“I think when people hear the word autism, some may think of a person who is unable to communicate effectively and may not function well in an office environment. Autism is actually a spectrum disorder that can range from more mild variants, like I have, to more severe variants,” shares Capriglione.
“Occasionally I feel awkward when interacting with other people, sometimes I struggle to make eye contact and can overthink minor interactions. However, I never let this hold me back, as I’m always trying to improve my communication skills. I’ve continually had the support from my peers and leadership at Ally, which has encouraged me to be more independent and be more open with sharing my ideas.”
Employee of the Year: Abdi Warsame, AT&T
Warsame Is Dedicated to Driving Change at AT&T
Abdi Warsame, AT&T senior strategic pricing manager, is from Mogadishu, Somalia, living in Irving, TX.
In 1991, amid civil war in Somalia, he was a young teenager, and was walking to his home in the night with his two cousins. Out of nowhere, they got hit by a mortar rocket explosion. That explosion took his cousin Adun’s life, and his cousin Dhalin came to him and saved his life. As a result of this event, his spinal cord injury from waist down was so severe that he will never walk again.
In 2005 Warsame came to the U.S. with his father, in search of a better opportunity. He attended Wake Technical Community College and then transferred to North Carolina State University. He also bought a car and installed a driver-assistive device, which enabled him to gain more independence than ever. After graduation, he was hired in 2006 by Cingular Wireless’ Business to Business Sales Program in Atlanta, which later became AT&T. He married Shankaron, who also migrated from Somalia.
“Abdi is a strong advocate and champion for diversity and inclusion,” says nominator TeNita Ballard, AT&T lead consultant, diversity and inclusion, who notes that he’s the president of AT&T’s Ability DFW Chapter, an employee group advocating and advancing disability matters at AT&T.
“As an advocate and leader, this opportunity enables Abdi to serve on many relevant committees such as AT&T Discovery District, Corporate Accessibility Technology Organization, National Ability and more,” she points out.
Outside of AT&T, Warsame serves on the advisory board of AbleTrive, the support resource organization for people with disabilities.
“Abdi is one of the kindest people I have worked with. He took a chance on me by allowing me the privilege of leading event-planning for Ability. With a couple of events under my belt, Abdi knew my career path I was trying to achieve, and let me take on the chief of staff role for Ability. Knowing how much the ERG meant to Abdi, it was such an honor,” shares Meagan Howard, one of Warsame’s colleagues.
“Abdi encourages self-development, confidence and the power to do anything you set your mind to. Abdi’s passion and drive around everything he does is amazing to watch. It’s truly refreshing to see someone so dedicated to driving change around things that matter and expecting nothing in return. I’ll be forever grateful for the chance Abdi took on me, and I hope that everyone has a chance to meet him!”
Warsame is always grateful for all of the opportunities, trials and successes. He even wrote about his experiences in his autobiography, Always Rolling Forward: The Power of Hope against Insurmountable Odds.
Fortunately, with all of the love, prayers, hurdles after hurdles, and his family’s tenacity to survive, today, he’s a successful individual, husband, businessman and disability advocate.
In the final paragraph of his book, he shared his wisdom: “Remember, if you don’t believe yourself, no one else will. Advocate for yourself and put your best foot forward. I assure you: there’s a world that’s willing to accept you and ready to work with you at your pace.”
Employee of the Year: Dora M. Herrera, NASA Ames Research Center
Herrera Inspires & Helps Students to Explore STEM Careers at NASA
Dora M. Herrera is an employee with 31 years of service at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center.
During this time, Herrera has been a member of Ames Disability Advocates (ADA) and was elected as co-chair in February 2018. ADA is a small employee advisory group that works directly with the Ames Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (ODEO).
ADA has three elected officers and two of them, the chair and the treasurer, are currently on loan to NASA Headquarters. Since then, Herrera has been the group’s acting chair.
“Dora has always devoted her time to changing the attitudes toward people with disabilities and removing physical barriers in the workplace,” says nominator Dr. Eugene Tu, Ph.D., director of NASA Ames Research Center.
“Her long-term involvement with the disability group and her job as a facilities manager provide a unique opportunity for Dora to perform the initial site inspections for compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This review process allows the disability group to recommend accessible projects to complete with limited funds each year at the center.”
Herrera also serves as a subject matter expert and provides valuable input on diversity outreach programs being proposed by NASA’s ODEO. These headquarters directives affect all NASA employees by setting cultural diversity goals containing action items for progress.
“Dora is a Hispanic woman who has a loss of hearing and relies on lip reading. She also survived polio and the muscle loss that affects her walking. Yet despite these challenges Dora applies her perspective to help NASA achieve goals realistically and with inclusive approaches,” notes Tu.
Additionally, for the past 28 years Herrera has been a volunteer with the NASA Speakers Bureau and has used her Associate of Science that helped her become an electronics technician to role model and encourage advancing education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for underrepresented students.
She does classroom presentations of NASA’s missions for students in pre-kindergarten to elementary, and career fairs for middle and high school students, as well as young adults in vocational training programs.
“Dora assembled her own robotic hand to share the excitement of electronics and to show how math and science are jobs of the future,” shares Tu.
“She buys freeze-dried astronaut ice cream for each class to taste, and talks about how rockets launching one pound of water in the food cost $10,000 of rocket fuel. She then reviews the many challenges space exploration involves by taking a full-size model of the astronaut spacesuit for students to see.”
Herrera’s annual school presentations reach 400 to 500 students. And, in fact, during the 2018-19 school year, she exceeded that by speaking to 868 students.
This and more is why NASA Ames Research Center has strongly recommended Herrera for this honor. And it’s also why NASA Ames Research Center and everyone there are proud she’s been recognized and honored for her notable and consistent efforts to advance equal employment opportunities in the federal government for all, supporting NASA’s diversity goals for employees at Ames Research Center and in its Disability and underrepresented local communities, according to Tu.
“Dora has demonstrated outstanding commitment to inspire individuals with disabilities to explore the opportunity of a college education focusing on the STEM-related jobs essential for our workforce at NASA and in our nation,” he adds.
Employee of the Year: Michael-Paul Anthony McKoy, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
McKoy Advocates for Wounded Warriors at DIA
Michael-Paul Anthony McKoy is a U.S. Army veteran and a wounded warrior. He’s also the U.S. army strength manager and Wounded Warrior Program (WWP) manager for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL.
“McKoy, who’s still known as ‘Chief McKoy’ for many that knew him when he was in the U.S. Army, has been a mentor and role model for military service members for more than 20 years,” says nominator Deborah D. Harris, human services lead career development officer, DIA.
“His advocacy for other wounded warriors like himself and service members in general, thus, began long before he became part of the WWP. As a former chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army, mentoring and coaching is a part of his DNA.”
In April 2016 U.S. Army Chief McKoy was selected for and accepted an assignment at DIA Headquarters (HQs) in Washington, DC. Demonstrating an eagerness to contribute to the agency’s mission and mentor others, he was tasked with assisting the WWP team lead efforts across the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) enterprise to recruit wounded warriors into the federal government.
“As a wounded warrior and service member himself, he had the ability to connect with other wounded warriors, and provide an example of how their talents were of the utmost value to the DOD and the Intelligence Community (IC),” notes Harris.
In his role at DIA HQs, Chief McKoy coordinated multiple visits to the Walter Reed Hospital, Bethesda, MD and Fort Belvoir, VA where he spoke one on one with wounded warriors about career opportunities in the IC. He also led community-wide meetings with other IC agencies interested in employing wounded warriors.
“His energetic engagement and commitment to the mission facilitated the initiation of security clearance processes and subsequent acceptance of 65 candidates into the DIA WWP as interns. Due to his untiring efforts, and mentoring skills, 35 of those interns were subsequently hired as permanent employees at DIA,” points out Harris.
In February 2018, as a transitioning service member, McKoy was reassigned to USCENTCOM. Eager to sustain momentum, McKoy gained leadership approval to implement a plan that immediately energized the agency’s wounded warrior recruitment in the Tampa, FL area.
Visiting James Haley Veterans Hospital and the MacDill Air Force Base clinic, he assisted wounded service members with resume writing and interview techniques as they progressed through Medical Evaluation Board assessments.
Always considering the impact and importance of the WWP, McKoy developed sustainable goals, objectives and milestones for the program. To ensure greater awareness, he also implemented focused marketing strategies for the USCENTCOM WWP.
“When one hears the word ‘disabled,’ it’s almost an automatic response to look for signs of a visible disability. Thankfully, through education and focused communication efforts, most now understand that many disabilities aren’t often visible. Yet, these typically unsung members of the workforce are often the ones ensuring organizational successes,” adds Harris.
“Demonstrating the ability to accomplish any assigned task, Mr. McKoy’s energy, passion and initiative is an inspiration to all. He’s the epitome of exceptional talent, selfless service and commitment to a cause greater than oneself.”
Employee of the Year: Geetha Srinivasan, PPL Electric Utilities
Srinivasan Creates Positive Change at PPL & in the Community
An esteemed colleague and friend, and a multiple sclerosis (MS) advocate and fighter, Geetha Srinivasan is a program owner for asset investment strategy at PPL Electric Utilities, and serves as secretary for the differently abled employee resource group, REACH.
In addition, she holds a Master of Business Administration from University of Rochester and Master of Science from Northwestern University.
“Geetha has been with our company as a program owner for asset investment strategy for almost two and a half years, but the impact she’s had rivals that of our most tenured employees,” says nominator Caitlin Brady, strategic communications manager and president of REACH.
During her tenure so far, she’s led several high-profile initiatives, including an underground infrastructure data discovery that resulted in correcting nearly 80% of asset data and developing asset health risk algorithms for all underground primary cables.
“Geetha’s strong business acumen and analytic skills make her instrumental to our team. She holds herself to a higher standard, keeping herself and others accountable, and always strives to deliver the most optimal solution," states her team leader, Colleen Lauver.
“Geetha also provides unparalleled leadership to our differently abled business resource group, REACH. Geetha was chosen by her peers to serve as secretary of REACH. While she’s actively involved in all initiatives, she’s responsible for leading the Walk MS efforts and self-identification campaign,” notes Brady.
“For Walk MS Geetha secured our company as a presenting sponsor, the highest level of sponsorship for this year’s walk. She also got our other employee resource groups to have teams for Walk MS, and raised more than $10,000 collectively, in addition to the $15,000 sponsorship.”
But perhaps the most significant and bravest thing Srinivasan has done since being with PPL is sharing her story of MS. Her heart-felt story on being diagnosed and living with MS brought other employees to tears.
“Disability is seen, felt, understood many times, but many more times, it remains invisible, and forgotten. Do you or know someone close to you have a disability? For great many of us, the answer is a painful ‘yes,’” Srinivasan writes in a proposal to PPL’s president.
“In coping with my illness, I learned many lessons, including that the disease can be bigger than one individual, but it’s no match to the strength, good will and power of us coming together. When we all join that fight, the sound that comes from the fallen tree can be thunderous, vibrating with enormous strength. That’s why we’re coming to you, to ask you to take a moment to go to your employee profile and complete the disability status form. When each one of us does that, the resulting outcomes can be quite impactful for you, me and every single person in this company.”
“As president of REACH, I’m privileged to know Geetha, and believe she’s most deserving to be recognized as Employee of the Year by CAREERS & the disABLED magazine,” adds Brady.
“Geetha lives with the disease of MS. While others may become defeated or shutdown, Geetha uses her diagnosis to create change in the community and our company. She’s a fighter and leaves an undeniable impact wherever she goes.”
Employee of the Year: Sophia Hu, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Hu Sparks Discussion Around Diversity, Inclusivity & Accessibility at the EPA
Sophia Hu is a chemist with the Antimicrobials Division of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A 2016 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she evaluates the environmental risk for antimicrobial pesticides, and has led efforts in identifying nanosilver-containing pesticides and characterizing their risk. She was recognized as an OCSPP Leader in Science in 2019.
In addition to this work, Sophia is committed to making OCSPP a disability-friendly workplace.
“Within the first few months of joining EPA, Sophia initiated American Sign Language (ASL) lunches to teach ASL to her colleagues. She taught basic signs, aspects of Deaf Culture, and how to communicate with people who are deaf and interpreters. In 2019 and 2020, she coordinated with Gallaudet University to host ASL classes for EPA staff, further bridging communication (and cultural) gaps between the hearing and the deaf,” says nominator Janet LaFiandra Weiner, esq., senior attorney/advisor, Office of the Assistant Administrator, OCSPP, EPA and chair, Special Emphasis Program, OCSPP, EPA.
“For the past several years, Hu has staffed EPA’s booth at the CAREERS & the disABLED’s Career Expo for People with Disabilities and Wounded Warriors, where she met with deaf candidates and brought along two interpreters of her own so that deaf candidates would have full accessibility to the EPA hiring managers and not have to share interpreters with other agencies. Through these actions, Sophia has helped foster a more deaf-friendly work environment, eliminated misconceptions and stereotypes about the deaf, and enhanced the interactions between the deaf and the hearing.”
Hu has also made major contributions to raising awareness and providing increased opportunity for people with other disabilities. After several years as a member, she currently serves as the chair of OCSPP’s Special Emphasis Program Advisory Council (SEPAC) for People with Disabilities. She shares information about the Workforce Recruitment Program and Schedule A hiring with managers.
Under her leadership SEPAC has hosted a mental health awareness training, and a brownbag lunch session for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) focused on visible and invisible disabilities, which shed light on deafness, autism, and mental illness.
“By removing stereotypes and sparking discussion around diversity, inclusivity and accessibility, Sophia has broken down barriers for all people with disabilities,” notes Weiner.
In addition to her advocacy efforts within the EPA, Hu has been an active and assertive leader in the Deaf Community in Washington, DC. As the current president of the Greater Washington Asian Deaf Association (GWADA), she’s organized cultural events and educational workshops to support recognition and appreciation of the Deaf and Asian communities.
Previously, she served as an outdoors ambassador for CorpsTHAT, a Deaf outdoors non-profit organization, in which she organized monthly events, including hiking, orienteering, and kayaking-and-river cleanup.
“Using her creative mind and wide network, she transformed a young, unknown non-profit with no money into a successful, vibrant community,” points out Weiner.
Besides spearheading Deaf events, she’s proactively ensured inclusivity and accessibility by requesting ASL interpreters for public events, such as lectures, bike repair workshops, and museum tours, and shared this information with the Deaf Community.
“With excellent leadership, organization, and communication skills, Sophia has consistently proven her ability to promote awareness, hiring, and appreciation for people with disabilities,” adds Weiner.
Employee of the Year: Frank Kaminski, NAVSEA
Kaminski Breaks Barriers While Educating People Inside & Outside of NAVSEA
People with autism tend to struggle with employment. For years, Frank Kaminski went through this very struggle. He eventually overcame this challenge by learning to accept himself as an individual with autism, and to shake off the pride that had previously kept him from seeking help.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in journalism, he initially worked in private industry as a proofreader and editor, before realizing his true calling was civil service.
In January 2008 he began his first position with the federal government, that of mail carrier for the United States Postal Service (USPS). He held this position for four years, then took a two-year hiatus from work to earn a certificate in database report development.
While enrolled in this certificate program, he applied for the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), a federal initiative that connects students and recent graduates who have disabilities with federal-sector employers.
He was grateful for the opportunity to enroll in the WRP and pursued it doggedly, applying two years in a row. His persistence paid off in the form of an internship with the Navy’s Office of Civilian Human Resources (OCHR), which began in March 2015 and became permanent that same October.
Kaminski’s work for the U.S. Navy so far has involved analyzing data, preparing and reviewing correspondence and other written materials, assisting with trainings, and public speaking. And it was at the suggestion of a supervisor that he decided to pursue Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) as a career path.
Now, in his role as an equal employment opportunity (EEO) assistant with the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport, WA - Naval Sea Logistics Center, Kaminski is passionately working toward eliminating barriers to employment for people with autism.
A little over a year ago Kaminski, on his own initiative, began giving regular presentations at work on the topic of autism and employment, which has blossomed into a new calling for him. His goal is to educate supervisors and hiring managers about the considerable benefits of hiring people on the autism spectrum, as well as tips for managing some of the unique challenges that autism presents in the workplace.
During his presentations, and speaking from personal experience, he brings to light common misinterpretations of non-verbal cues in the interviewing process, and, in turn, provides tips about how to overcome this barrier to both hiring managers and people with autism.
“Frank’s presentations are informative and inspiring, and have been received with overwhelming support,” says nominator Lauren Peters, external awards program manager, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport, WA - Naval Sea Logistics Center.
“As word has spread, colleagues have increasingly sought his consultation when faced with issues related to helping employees with autism integrate into the workplace.”
Other local organizations, including the Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, have requested that Kaminski bring his presentations to their workplace to provide insight into how to employ, empower, and celebrate individuals with autism. He also addressed the 2018 National Disability Employment Awareness Symposium with a personal speech outlining how he’s turned his disability into an advantage.
“Frank continues to seek opportunities to help people with autism achieve success and fulfillment. Through mentoring and education, he hopes to help organizations realize the benefits of employing people with autism, and is committed to removing barriers that may hinder people with autism from reaching their full potential,” notes Peters.
To that end, this past April, he appeared on the Radio Vision Network Television network, a new platform for people of any industry to share their vision through live streaming and internet radio, to talk about his work and further raise awareness about the topic of autism in the workplace.
This past April he also received the prestigious Disability Champion Award from Springboard Consulting at its annual Disability Matters conference for his efforts, which have now been honored by this prestigious recognition as CAREEERS & the disABLED’s Employee of the Year.
Employee of the Year: Jean Clabaugh, Wells Fargo & Company
Clabaugh Is a Champion for Diversity at Wells Fargo
Jean Clabaugh, senior vice president of talent acquisition strategy and delivery for Wells Fargo & Company, is responsible for managing human resources recruitment strategy and delivery for the company’s consumer and small business banking and consumer lending, focusing on people with disabilities (PwDs) and military/veterans employees.
A champion for diversity, Clabaugh is long-time advocate for the Diverse Abilities Team Member Network (DATMN), a Wells Fargo employee resource group that has 23 chapters, including one virtual and two international chapters (India and Philippines), and more than 8,700 employee members.
Clabaugh knows the value and impact PwDs bring to the organization. She’s passionate about promoting the many PwD accomplishments and how PwDs have enriched the cultural fabric of our communities. She believes in the critical importance of working with PwDs to help propel them to reach their goals.
To that end, as an executive advisor of DATMN for the past four years, her goals are to educate and increase awareness of the PwD segment, and help develop a workplace where people of all abilities can reach their full potential.
“At Wells Fargo Clabaugh courageously disclosed her autoimmune disease, an invisible disability, which has empowered many colleagues to disclose their own disabilities or self-identify as PwDs, and creates a sense of belonging for employees with disabilities,” says nominator Claudia Huizar, communications consultant, Wells Fargo & Company.
“Having a more accurate count of PwDs within the company strengthens the company’s ability to provide resources that are more effective in allowing employees to do their jobs. More than 10,500 PwDs have self-identified throughout the organization.”
Each year, the company reaches out to self-identified employees with disabilities to share information about Wells Fargo’s career development process, tools, and resources.
Clabaugh’s advocacy efforts as the executive advisor for the Wells Fargo DATMN has also created a positive and accepting cultural shift directly tied to awareness.
“Her leadership plays a key role in serving customers with diverse abilities, and creates a welcoming environment to hire, develop, and retain diverse employees. It also encourages employees to value and respect each other for their differences,” notes Huizar, who adds that, under Clabaugh’s leadership, “DATMN has helped improve accessibility efforts for employees and customers, and championed leadership advocacy.”
For example, she’s a strong advocate for providing resources such as Wells Fargo’s Veterans Resource Center and the Diverse Abilities Resource Center, which provide veterans and employees with disabilities and their managers information to make the onboarding experience and workplace transition smoother.
An HR leader with 20 years of experience, with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Iowa State University, Clabaugh has always focused on diversity and inclusion at Wells Fargo.
She’s held positions in numerous departments including learning and development, HR consulting, employee relations, and recruitment, and was selected for the three-year HR Leadership Rotational Program where she rotated through each functional area of human resources.
Outside of Wells Fargo, Clabaugh is just as active in and passionate about her community in Iowa where her focus is on the future of children and education.
To that end, she serves on the Education Foundation Board for Urbandale Community School District, board of directors for the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, and business advisory board for Des Moines Area Community College, and as the executive chair of the Iowa Department of Education Sector Partnership Leadership Council.
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