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Recap of 2016 Disability:IN Connecticut (now Disability:IN Connecticut) Programming

Posted in: Employers

January 5, 2016 – Dr. Edward Goldberg of Eversource Named Vice President of Disability:IN Connecticut

The Board of Directors of the Connecticut Business Leadership Network is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Edward Goldberg as Vice President of the Board of Disability:IN Connecticut. Ed has served on the Disability:IN Connecticut Board for over seven years and has generously donated both his time and resources.

Dr. Goldberg manages Eversource’ Enterprise Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery and Threat Assessment programs in Berlin, CT. He is also responsible for the company’s cyber security plan, incident response plans as well as related CIP (Critical Infrastructure Protection) plans. Ed serves as chair of the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) Business Continuity Committee.

Ed served on Northeast Utilities (now Eversource) Diversity Council for six years, two years as its chair. During that tenure, he joined the Board of Connecticut Business Leadership Network to support and further the employment of people with disabilities. During his tenure on the Disability:IN Connecticut Board, he served on the Ad Hoc Emergency Planning Committee for People with Disabilities where his knowledge of emergency planning was instrumental in creating policies regarding the safety of individuals with disabilities during emergencies.

Ed holds many certifications including Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) with more than 25 years of IT and technical management experience. He has a B.S. in engineering and an MBA concentrated in Computer Communication Networks and a Doctorate in Management and Organizational Leadership.

He has taught and developed curriculum for Capella University, Albertus Magnus College and DeVry University. He also assists doctoral students writing their  PhD theses.

Ed lives in Waterford, CT with his wife, Judi. He has three adult children, enjoys traveling, ham radio and bicycling.

Most importantly, Ed is a generous, kind and caring individual: a true “mensch”.

January 14, 2016 – Ringing in the New Year at Disability:IN Connecticut’s 2nd Annual Best Practices and Brew

Passion for Disability:IN Connecticut’s mission and making it “fun” are important parts of Disability:IN Connecticut’s philosophy. On Thursday, January 14th from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. the chapter’s 2nd Best Practices and Brew took place at the Thomas Hooker Brewery, 16 Tobey Road, Bloomfield, CT. Along with beer from this award winning local brewery, great food and the company of fellow Disability:IN Connecticut members, the group celebrated its accomplishments in 2015 and learned about Disability:IN Connecticut’s new sponsor and the exciting programs planned for 2016. The new Executive Committee member was announced, the group played the Best Practices Game and celebrated the birthday of a special Board member.

A highlight of the evening was an interactive presentation and discussion on Six Words:

Disability:IN Connecticut Board member Mark Soycher of CBIA introduced the attendees at our Best Practices and Brew to a thought provoking exercise. What are six words you can use to describe your commitment to your work, your goals and your mission?

Having reached the month of February and human nature being what it is many had already lost the momentum of their New Year’s resolutions. How many have stopped going to the gym, given up on the diet which would help lose that extra 10 lbs. or let go of any other of resolutions as they are overtaken by the pressures of daily life?

At Disability:IN Connecticut is committed to changing lives through disseminating best practices for recruiting, hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Te legend below is designed to get people to think about their “Six Words”: the Six Words which will re-kindle the spark of commitment.

“Legend has it that the great novelist Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a “short” novel, in six words or less. The result: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Whether it was actually Hemingway’s work or not, the story has spawned similar efforts, including Six-Word Memoirs, a multi-volume collection published by Smith Magazineand The Race Card Project, started in 2010 by noted journalist Michele Norris that has generated an ongoing conversation about race, so much in the public consciousness today.”

Participants were encouraged to start their own six word conversation within the CT BLN community. Who are we? How do we view ourselves as individuals, employers, employees? As a profession? On and off the job? In our homes, communities, and workplaces? We share many common personal traits, working conditions, and job responsibilities. Then again, no two individuals or workplaces are identical.

While we don’t presume to have the gravitas of Hemingway or the journalistic depth of Norris, we have rich experiences to draw on. Our work brings us face to face with hopes and dreams (ours and those of the people we employ), great satisfaction, frustration, success, failure, anger, fear, sadness, and fun. And that’s likely just in the first few hours of each day on the job.

Think about yourself, your profession, and your workplace, and put your thoughts into a six word sentence, or many examples if you wish.

To get the juices flowing, but certainly not to limit or steer your thoughts, here are some examples:

  • If work is fun, still work?
  • Open door, open ears, closed mouth.
  • Employee advocate, management shill, ground chuck.
  • Weak legs, strong heart, no limits.
  • Minor shift, minimal cost, no limits.
  • High wall, whose wall is it?
  • Same team, different stripes, human race.
  • Sometimes frustrating conversations with stubborn staff.

Here are some great Six Word quotes from the Best Practices and Brew Attendees:

  • Opportunities needed, doors open, people achieve.
  • I got this no matter what.
  • Great communities, great employees, successful businesses.
  • We rock, can’t stop, watch out.
  • We never stop until the top.

And for those who have had a hard day, a quote from a George Thorogood song by one of our Best Practices and Brew Attendees:

  • One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

Disability:IN Connecticut started the Best Practices and Brew event when it was realized that the meetings held during business hours are helpful and informative but provide little time for attendees to network and socialize.  This was a great opportunity to extend the holiday celebrations, drink beer, grow professional networks and learn about best practices for recruiting, hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities.

February 4, 2016 – Accommodating Individuals with Depression, Anxiety and PTSD

Disability:IN Connecticut, thanks to the Prudential Retirement sponsorship of its successful Accommodations Series, presented its program on Accommodating Individuals with Depression, Anxiety and PTSD on February 4, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., at the NEAT Marketplace, 33 Coventry Street in Hartford. Remi Kyek, Vice President of Mental Health Connecticut explained each of these conditions, how they affect the individual who is experiencing them, how to accommodate these individuals so they can successfully fulfill the essential requirements of their jobs and most importantly how to create a mental health friendly workplace. A continental breakfast was served.
The program began with an introductory video produced by Prudential, the series sponsor, which described an employee’s experience with depression and a few words from Deborah Hopper, Prudential’s Vice President of Human Resources on best practices for working with individuals with Depression, Anxiety and PTSD.
There is a stigma surrounding mental health disabilities. The depiction of individuals with mental health disabilities in the media adds to misunderstanding and fear among employers and reticence among employees who have these disabilities. People can easily relate to these disabilities. Everyone has experienced sadness surrounding events in their lives, worry about situations or loved ones and vivid reminders of past situations.
Disability:IN Connecticut’s 2016 Accommodations Series, sponsored by Prudential Retirement, was an educational experience which helped participants design a workplace inclusive of individuals with many types of disabilities including wounded warriors. Participants learned about the disability, its effects on the individual and appropriate accommodations to help that individual reach their highest potential.

April 14, 2016 – Tapping Into Brilliance

Tapping into Brilliance was the topic of this next in the highly acclaimed Accommodations series sponsored by Prudential Retirement of its successful Accommodations Series in 2016.
The program took place Thursday, April 14, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., at the Walgreens Distribution Center, 80 International Drive, Windsor.  In recognition of Autism Awareness Month,  a panel discussed Tapping Into Brilliance: Accommodating Individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
The session provided a great learning experience, great networking and a delicious continental breakfast.
Autism is often misunderstood as is the concept of the Autism Spectrum. Individuals on the Autism Spectrum reflect the variety of skills and talents seen in the general population. In addition to jobs in mail rooms and warehouses individuals on the Autism Spectrum have the ability to add great value to businesses in all job levels. Individuals on the “Spectrum”, many of whom have college degrees, are especially talented in jobs which demand intense concentration like actuarial, accounting or film editing. No one can do it better.
It was noted that some of the most brilliant historical figures would have been placed on the Autism Spectrum if it had existed in their time.
Participants learned how their organization can take advantage of this this incredible pool of talent through the creative use of accommodations which help everyone perform at their best.
Disability:IN Connecticut’s Accommodations Series, sponsored by Prudential was an educational experience to help participants design a workplace inclusive of individuals with many types of disabilities including veterans. They  learned about the disability, its effects on the individual and appropriate accommodations to help that individual reach their highest potential.
The lead sponsor for this series, Prudential, is a leader in best practices for diversity and inclusion. They have been long time supporters of Disability:IN Connecticut and we appreciate their commitment to disability diversity.


May 17, 2016 – DiverseAbility Career Fair

The highly successful DiverseAbility Career Fair was sponsored by Disability:IN Connecticut, the CT Department of Labor, the CT Department of Rehabilitation Services and others. The event was geared towards companies looking for great employees with disabilities, and employees with or without disabilities looking for opportunities with great companies.

The event took place on May 17th at the Hartford Hilton Hotel, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

These DiverseAbility Career Fairs are proven venues for connecting businesses to qualified job seekers with disabilities. They are also an opportunity to learn about tax incentives for hiring individuals with disabilities, information on assistive technology and best practices which will make it easier to attain your diversity goals.

June 2, 2016 – The Human Side of Cancer as a Reality in Today’s Workplace

Disability:IN Connecticut’s acclaimed Prudential Disability Accommodation Series continued on Thursday, June 2nd Disability:IN Connecticut with one of the most important meetings in its’ Disability Accommodations Series: Accommodating Individuals Living with Cancer” from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Eversource, 107 Selden Street, Berlin, CT.

Christine Brennan from Cancer and Careers presented on accommodating valued employees who are living with Cancer.
Everyone knows someone who has been touched by Cancer whether personally or via a friend or colleague. Cancer was named a disability under the Americans with Disability Act Amendments Act of 2008 which gives individuals with Cancer the protection of the ADA. With more successful treatments, people are successfully living with Cancer. Participants learned not only about the laws affecting one’s colleagues with Cancer but how businesses can support their employees at a challenging time in their professional lives. Supporting valued employees helps everyone.

There is a human side to the experience of Cancer in the workplace which touches all.  There are very few people who have not in some way been affected by a Cancer diagnoses whether it was their own diagnoses or that of a friend, colleague or relative.  Dealing with a serious illness  and perhaps being the sole breadwinner in a family creates many frightening questions for the employee. If diagnosed with Cancer, can they continue to work and support their family? What would happen to their children? How should they approach their employer about the time they may need to take off from work to do the diagnostic testing needed to determine if they had Cancer? If the diagnosis is positive, what would happen to their career? Will insurance cover treatment?

Cancer is a reality of today’s workplace which cannot be ignored by any employer who values their team members. Individuals with Cancer are now protected under the ADA. How can employers create an inclusive workplace which encourages someone diagnosed with Cancer to come forward in order to receive support? Employees going thorough Cancer treatment are experiencing a long list of concerns or fears. How can an organization help them advocate for themselves?

Federal contractors subject to Section 503 and VEVRAA received a letter of attendance for use as proof of compliance with these regulations.
Disability:IN Connecticut’s Accommodations Series, sponsored by Prudential provided educational experiences which to help design a workplace inclusive of individuals with many types of disabilities including veterans. Participants learned about the disability, its effects on the individual and appropriate accommodations to help that individual reach their highest potential. The lead sponsor for this series, Prudential, is a leader in best practices for diversity and inclusion. They have been long time supporters of Disability:IN Connecticut and Disability:IN Connecticut, and appreciate their commitment to disability diversity.

This particular session was subsequently widely recognized on social media.

June 8, 2016 – Annual Meeting

The Annual Disability:IN Connecticut meeting included a chapter kickoff of the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN®) Affiliate Supplier Diversity Initiative which enlisted affiliates to design and implement proactive strategies to build awareness and increase utilization of disability-owned businesses in local communities. Disability:IN Connecticut announced that Wells Fargo, a USBLN Corporate Partner and Founding Partner of the USBLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP®), would provide generous financial support to aid these efforts with a grant to the Connecticut Business Leadership Network.

“This new initiative will help propel DSDP to the next level by engaging affiliates at the local level to work with corporations embracing the benefits of disability supplier diversity inclusion and disability-owned businesses ready to be certified by USBLN® and elevate their business in the commercial sector,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN®. “We are thankful to Wells Fargo for their ongoing commitment to USBLN and creating economic opportunity for people with disabilities.”

“Supplier diversity (DSDP®) plays an important role in Disability:IN Connecticut’s mission to bring diversity full circle to include individuals with disabilities in the business community as both employees and entrepreneurs/vendors.  We share Wells Fargo’s and the USBLN’s passion and appreciate this generous grant’s support for promoting disability supplier diversity (DSDP®) and the power it has to change businesses and improve lives.

The annual meeting also recognized the State of Connecticut for ground breaking work in supplier diversity for the creation of a disability-owned business set-aside in 1992. “The State of Connecticut’s recognition of disability owned businesses as a valued part of the state’s economy through the creation of this set-aside, puts the State of Connecticut decades ahead of other states which are only recently recognizing the benefit of granting disability owned businesses a status similar to that of women and minority owned businesses. We appreciate this grant from the USBLN, sponsored by Wells Fargo, as it will help to kick-start Disability:IN Connecticut’s work in DSDP®.” said Sharon Denson, Executive Director, Disability:IN Connecticut.

Since their inception, USBLN® affiliates have made tremendous progress in advancing disability inclusion in the workplace and marketplace in communities across the country. This innovative initiative supports affiliates by helping them grow supplier diversity programming in their BLN, as well as identify local disability-owned businesses who may be eligible to apply for USBLN certification as a Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE®) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise (SDV-DOBE™).

USBLN established its Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP®) in 2010 with the mission to certify and develop DOBEs, as well as help corporations develop supplier diversity programs that are fully inclusive of businesses owned by people with disabilities.

“Wells Fargo is proud of its long-time partnership with the USBLN and pleased to support this Initiative. We’re committed to creating access and opportunity for members of the disability community,” said Regina O. Heyward, Senior Vice President and Head of Supplier Diversity at Wells Fargo. “The affiliates are well-positioned to build awareness and bring together companies and community business organizations in support of disability-owned businesses. When these businesses are given the opportunity, they’re contributors to the economic growth and well-being of our local communities.”  

The grants provided by Wells Fargo have helped affiliates and their local communities embrace the idea of self-employment and entrepreneurship as another clear path to economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities, as well as attract companies who are looking to further diversity their supply chain.

Other USBLN Affiliates participating in the launch of the initiative were:

·       Chicagoland BLN; DC Metro BLN; Hawaii BLN; Massachusetts BLN; North Carolina BLN; Ohio BLN.

July 2016 – Disability:IN Connecticut Recognized by the USBLN in the July Biz 2 Biz Newsletter

The USBLN recognized the chapter for its best practices. In a July Affiliate conference call, Disability:IN Connecticut was featured and applauded for social media presence and then highlighted in the USBLN Biz 2 Biz July newsletter.  Sharon Denson, Disability:IN Connecticut Executive Director was interviewed about the secret to Disability:IN Connecticut’s success. The article is below:

Connecticut Business Leadership Network: Passion for disability diversity

The Connecticut Business Leadership Network (Disability:IN Connecticut) is like a family. It’s led by passionate board members who strive to make Disability:IN Connecticut the leading resource in the state for businesses seeking to employ individuals with disabilities. The Disability:IN Connecticut supports its members in adopting best practices through professional development and networking.

The affiliate was started in 1994 by a small group of dedicated human resources professionals. The desire was to broaden the available talent pool, to encourage businesses to diversify their workforces to include individuals with disabilities and to spread best practices, which would level the playing field for job seekers with disabilities.

Strong programming, sharing best practices and providing valuable networking events has become the hallmark of the Disability:IN Connecticut. The affiliate works with partners and other organizations on the DiverseAbility Career Fair, Best Practice and Brew (networking event), Disability Mentoring Day and with Governor Malloy on a Governor’s Breakfast event for corporate executives.

“Strong programming is very important,” said Sharon Denson, M.ED., J.D., Executive Director, Disability:IN Connecticut. “Being available to support members with their questions and concerns is a priority for our team as well. However, the most important job we have is to show appreciation to our volunteers. Gratitude is your currency in a mostly volunteer organization. We are blessed with the most dedicated board members. They deserve the recognition.”

The Disability:IN Connecticut also does a good job of engaging members via social media and digital communications. They are in the process of filming the monthly meetings and posting them online. They have reached out to a media company to create a mentorship program to teach video editing to individuals on the autism spectrum who can assist with the project.

When asked what advice the Disability:IN Connecticut could give other affiliates, Sharon said, “Passion is contagious. Share your passion for disability diversity and watch your BLN grow.”

August 3, 2016 – Disability:IN Connecticut Member Thomas Hooker Brewing Company Receives Prestigious Award

The Thomas Hooker Brewing Company, received the Small Business Best Practices Award, for which it was nominated by Disability:IN Connecticut,  from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability and Employment Policy (ODEP). The announcement of the award was carried in the (8/3/2016) Hartford Courant and on

One of the many benefits of Disability:IN Connecticut membership is the opportunity for recognition for the company’s leadership in diversity and inclusion.

October 5, 2016 – Candidates Forum on Disability Issues

Disability:IN Connecticut co-sponsored the 2016 Candidate’s Forum on Disability Issues on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 275 Research Parkway, Meriden, CT. Thirteen of fourteen Congressional, U.S. Senate and Presidential candidates or their surrogates participated. This proved to be an excellent opportunity to hear them present their platforms on important disability issues.

Moderated by Diane Smith, renowned broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author, the forum was interesting and informative.

The 2016 election was one of the most contentious races between the country’s two major political parties. Disability:IN Connecticut does not advocate for any particular political party, candidate or view, but knows the importance of using the vote to support the candidates which reflect individual’s views on the issues which are most important. This Forum was an opportunity to hear and understand the platforms of the majority of the candidates running for officer.

The Forum was presented by the CT Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, the CT Council on Developmental Disabilities, the CT Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance, the CT State Independent Living Council and the UCONN Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Disability:IN Connecticut is proud to have been a sponsor.

September 15, 2016 – Accommodating Heart Attack and Stroke, and the New ABLE Accounts

Disability:IN Connecticut’s acclaimed Prudential Disability Accommodation Series continued on September 15, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Prudential Retirement, 280 Trumbull St., Hartford. Participants learned about Accommodating Heart Attack and Stroke.

Lisa Neff of the Heart and Stroke Association spoke about accommodations for heart attack and stroke. She also addressed how to create a heart healthy workplace. Mark Soycher, Esq., Employment Counsel for CBIA (and Disability:IN Connecticut Board Member) spoke about the legal implications of reassignment and leave as accommodations for those who have experienced a heart attack or stroke. Bennett Kleinberg of Prudential spoke about the new ABLE Accounts which allow an individual with a disability to save up to $100,000.00 without affecting his or her government benefits. This account differs from a Special Needs Trust.

A continental breakfast was served. Attendees qualified for 2 SHRM or HRCI credits.

October 27, 2016 – Waterbury DiverseAbility Career Fair

Disability:IN Connecticut partnered with the State of Connecticut Departments of Labor and Rehabilitation Services to host the latest in the chapter’s series of highly successful DiverseAbility Career Fairs.

The fair took place on Thursday, October 27, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and provided a look into what Connecticut offers to help businesses gain a competitive edge. Participants met a broad range of qualified candidates at the career fair and received information on recruitment and training support, hiring incentives, assistive technology and other helpful resources. The event helped companies build a diverse workforce while boosting the bottom line.

November 3, 2016 – Prudential Disability Accommodations Series Meeting: Accommodating Blindness and Deafness

Disability:IN Connecticut continued its highly acclaimed Prudential Disability Accommodations Series, Accommodations for Individuals Who Are Blind or Deaf, on Thursday, November 3, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the NEAT Marketplace, 33 Coventry Street, Hartford, CT.  Steve Famiglietti from the NEAT Marketplace described workplace accommodations including current assistive technology for individuals with vision or hearing loss.

The 2016 Prudential Disability Accommodation Series was a series of trainings designed to answer questions on the best accommodations for the disabilities which a company might encounter when diversifying the business to include individuals with disabilities. These interactive trainings provided the opportunity to become familiar with best practices and therefore more comfortable with that part of hiring process

December 7, 2016 – Disability Equality Index Webinar (Joint with Massachusetts chapter)

Disability:IN Connecticut joined the Massachusetts Business Leadership Network for a webinar presented by the USBLN which described the Disability Equality Index.  The webinar takes place on Wednesday, December 7th at 9:00 a.m.  The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a unique, recognition-focused, online assessment tool that enables one to take an in-depth look at inclusion policies and practices across the business and receive an objective score on a scale of zero to 100. Developed by business and disability leaders, the DEI provides ideas for improvement and for increased awareness across your organization.

Companies which score 80 or above receive a Best Places to Work award.  Connecticut-based 2016 winners included Aetna, United Technologies, Walgreens and more.