|Georgetown University, in partnership with the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center, convened its 4th Conference on Employment of People with Disabilities on Thursday, January 29, 2015. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted the conference, which was themed “Wounded Warriors – Employing Vets with Disabilities.” It focused on the importance of hiring individuals with disabilities and more specifically, what can be done to improve the hiring and retention of the Veterans with disabilities returning to civilian life.
The day’s events were facilitated by three Georgetown University graduates: John D. Kemp, President & CEO of The Viscardi Center, Taylor Price, State Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s office of intergovernmental affairs, and Michael Marshall, President of Marshall Consulting LLC.
Tom Donohue, President & CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the need for the United States to take the lead on the passage of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, especially as the nation commemorates later this year the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Donohue stressed the unique skill-sets that businesses would acquire if they hired and retained more individuals with disabilities, as well as more Veterans with disabilities.
Representing Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development at the conference, Toby Long presented the Human Spirit Awards to Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA). Rep. McMorris Rogers was present to accept the award, and she also shared some personal insight about her commitment to helping people with disabilities achieve full community integration and participation.
Darren Bates, National Project Director of the National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center on the Employment of People with Disabilities (aka, Employer TA Center), reviewed some of the resources and tools made available to employers seeking to recruit, hire, retain and promote qualified individuals with disabilities. Upon discussing the Employer TA Center – which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy – Bates shared specific examples such as the Employer Assistance & Resource Network (EARN).
As part of the conference, two panels of experts in the areas of public policy, business, federal contracting, and technology examined the history and future of disability employment, with a special emphasis on Wounded Warriors. The panelists discussed Veterans who return home with disabilities and their need, like all Americans, for full employment.
Frances West, Chief Accessibility Officer at IBM, moderated the first panel – which was charged with dissecting how any successful employment strategy targeting individuals with disabilities must involve accessible technology. Panelists included Steve Abel, retired U.S. Army Colonel and Director of Veteran and Military Programs and Services, Rutgers University; Dana Marlow, Principal Partner, Accessibility Partners LLC; and Richard Konefal, Managing Director in Compliance, Barclays.
The second panel, moderated by Justin Ford with the Truman National Security Project, focused on the role of the recent federal contracting regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Panelists included Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy, DOL; Naomi Levin, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, DOL; Bob Vetere, Human Resource Specialist, Northrop Grumman; and Eric Eversole, Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director, Hiring Our Heroes. They offered their perspective on how the OFCCP Section 503 regulations – and more specifically the 7% hiring target ? could impact Veterans with disabilities seeking gainful employment.
Below are some of the photos from the event.
To learn more about how NBDC can partner with your company’s events, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Brandon M. Macsata