- MA Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Media Contact for Massachusetts Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities holds inaugural celebration, marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month at the State House
Imene Bouziane Saidi, Program Director
Massachusetts State House —
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities held its inaugural celebration in the Great Hall of Flags at the Massachusetts State House, this year marking National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The event honored employees with disabilities, policymakers, employers, service providers, and stakeholders of the disability community. The event focused on two Commission goals this year, promoting disability employment as an answer to the workforce crisis to improve Massachusetts’ competitiveness across industries and to focus on the workforce serving individuals with disabilities that is in crisis.
Representative Denise Garlick said, “The Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities is powered by appointed members from the Commonwealth: Gyasi Burks-Abbott, Charles Carr, Representative Gerard Cassidy, Nancy Gar-Colzie, Craig Hall, Representative Kay Khan, Andrew Levrault, Ann Lynch, Regina Marshall, Felix Martinez, Oswald Mondejar, Representative Mathew Muratore, Bridget Murphy, Senator Patrick O’Connor, Angela Ortiz, Kathy Petkauskos, Carl Richardson, Rachel Stanton, Meghan Todd, and Chris White. Their expertise and commitment have led to the extraordinary work demonstrated in this year’s inaugural event focused on workforce.”
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh presented the keynote and spoke on the state’s support for employing people with disabilities and supporting the workforce that provides supports for individuals with disabilities.
“When we prioritize hiring people with disabilities, everyone wins. We can address the on-going workforce crisis, foster independence, and become a stronger workforce with a better understanding of the lived experience of people with disabilities,” said Secretary Walsh. “We need to take this opportunity to breakdown stigma and become more inclusive. I’m grateful to the Commission for their efforts, as well as to our own staff at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and other agencies who provide opportunities for people every day to find paths to employment for people with disabilities across the state.”
The Commission honored policymakers for their leadership in disability employment, including Senate President Karen Spilka, whose award was accepted by Senator Patrick O’Connor, who serves on the Commission, and Representative Josh Cutler, whose award was accepted by Representative Kathleen LaNatra. President Spilka has been a long-time champion of disability rights, putting them at the forefront of her and the Senate’s legislative priorities. Rep. Cutler’s work chairing the Labor and Workforce Development Committee has advanced individuals with disabilities as a solution to the workforce crisis, and his work in the 2019 WorkAbility Report has been integral to the commission and working with Speaker Ron Mariano to advance disability policy in the House of Representatives.
“I am deeply grateful to be recognized by the Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, and even more grateful for the Commission’s advocacy for disability rights,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. “This month and every month, I’m proud to stand alongside people with disabilities, who have made incalculable contributions to our workplaces and strengthen our economy every day. While we have made significant strides in recent years, there is more work to do to create truly fair workplaces for people with disabilities. I look forward to continuing to stand at the forefront of this issue, in pursuit of the true opportunity, respect, and equality that persons with disabilities in our workplaces are entitled to.”
“Senate President Spilka has shown unwavering dedication and selfless commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities and has had a profound impact on our Commonwealth because of her work,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor. “Throughout her career, President Spilka has championed the rights of people with disabilities and has taught us in the Senate the power of empathy, understanding, and the importance of creating an environment where everyone can thrive.”
“Thank you to the Commission for all your efforts to promote workforce development for persons with disabilities. I am honored to be recognized with this award. We know that disability inclusive hiring practices are not just the right thing to do, they are also the smart thing to do,” said Rep. Josh Cutler, House Chairman of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee. “It’s incumbent on all of us to find ways to remove barriers to employment and ensure that all persons has the opportunity to succeed in the workplace. Given the tight labor market we are now in, there has never been a better –– or more important –– time to do so.”
"I am honored to be able to accept this award on behalf of my good friend, Chairman Josh Cutler,” said Representative Kathleen LaNatra. “Rep. Cutler has worked tirelessly to make the workplace a more inclusive space for all who want the dignity, respect and opportunity that a job can provide. I have personally met many individuals who have made incredible contributions to their workplace and they are some of the most dedicated and hard-working individuals I have met. I am thrilled to see someone as truly deserving as Chair Cutler receiving this award and I am inspired to continue to work to make employment available and inclusive for everyone."
2023 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Employer Award Recipients
Two organizations were selected as NDEAM honorees for their exemplary work creating and sustaining an intentional disability inclusive work environment. MicroTek, Inc. a technology company located in Chicopee MA, was named as the small-to-midsize honoree, and Liberty Mutual Insurance was named as the large organization honoree.
“MicroTek is honored to receive the inaugural MA Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities National Disability Employment Awareness Month Award,” said Erin Weinman, Executive Vice President “Since MicroTek’s founding in 1983, our mission has been to support individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve their employment goals. We believe that everyone has value and should have the opportunity for meaningful work that furthers their personal fulfillment and financial stability. We hope that this award and the Commission’s celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month shines a light on a valuable pool of potential employees who are ready and motivated to put their talents to work.”
“It is an incredible honor to be recognized for our efforts to remove barriers of access and build an equitable and inclusive workplace for people with disabilities,” said Liberty Mutual Chief Sustainability Officer Francis Hyatt. “As the co-executive sponsor of the Able@Liberty Employee Resource Group, I am so proud of the work we’ve done to evolve policies, benefits and infrastructure to create a more accessible workplace for all.”
2023 Employment Support Champion Award Recipient
The NDEAM Employment Support Champion honoree was Vanessa Stewart, a career development specialist at WORK Inc. Vanessa has provided invaluable support to individuals with disabilities seeking meaningful employment opportunities. “Having a disability should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life,” Steward said.
The Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities was established by the Legislature in 2020. It is an independent state agency with a charge to advance the cause of all persons with disabilities in the Commonwealth.