Disability:IN Connecticut held its annual Employment Conference and Career Fair on Friday, November 8, 2013. The event brought together over 200 job seekers and twenty four booth holders for an action-packed day of networking and learning.
The event took place at Northeast Utilities in Berlin, CT. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Northeast Utilities for their generosity in donating their location for our Career Fair.
The day started in the auditorium at 10:00 a.m. with a program of speakers. Deb Erickson of Connecticare, our Board Vice President spoke about the Career Fair, introduced the members of the Career Fair Committee which included its Chair, Peter Cross of Deloitte and Touche, Louanne Hayes from Prudential Insurance, Sandra Lavoy from CW Resources, Joe Wendover from Walgreens and Dr. Ed Goldberg from Northeast Utilties.
Deb Erickson then introduced Sharon Denson, Disability:IN Connecticut’s Director of Business Partnership and Outreach who told the story of how our next speaker, Governor Dannel P. Malloy, took the time from his busy schedule to speak with her about how to ask for the accommodations for the Bar Examination. Ms. Denson thanked and then introduced the Governor who would give the Opening Remarks for the event.
Governor Malloy’s speech was incredibly inspiring. Everyone listened as he spoke about being the youngest child in a family all of whose children had learning disabilities. He had the most severe learning and physical disabilities and he credited his mother for helping him to overcome his disabilities and achieve success. His words had such an incredibly positive effect on the people in that auditorium that it is almost difficult to describe. They were inspired by the Governors willingness and courage to speak about his disabilities. The young people in the room with disabilities were in awe of Governor Malloy’s accomplishments and encouraged by knowing that the possibilities were also there for them. The employers were impressed and pleased by the Governor’s support for Disability:IN Connecticut’s efforts to bring diversity full circle by including people with disabilities in the workplace. They were also impressed by Governor Malloy’s outreach to Ms. Denson and his caring attitude.
The Governor’s address was followed by that of the Keynote Speaker, James Weisman from the United Spinal Association. Attorney Weisman has been a longtime advocate for people with disabilities, specializing in transportation issues. He was one of the original crafters of the Americans with Disabilities Act. After thanking the Governor and mentioning that he was a hard act to follow and how fortunate we were to have a Governor who was so open about his disabilities, Attorney Weisman told the audience stories about the fight for disability rights. His stories mixed irony with humor. He even spoke about his attendance at the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and what that experience was like. The audience was both entertained and inspired by his stories.
After Attorney Weisman spoke, Ms. Denson read the Proclamation from the Governor declaring November 8, 2013 as Connecticut Business Leadership Network Day in Connecticut.
Following the speeches, both employers and job seekers had the opportunity to attend seminars. The employers were able to attend a seminar on the Revised Section 503: Responsibilities of Human Resources and Recruiting Professionals taught by Ms. Denson and followed by a panel discussion on Experiences and Best Practices in hiring people with disabilities. The panel included Louanne Hayes from Prudential Insurance, Kristen McKenna from ESPN and Joe Wendover from Walgreens. We received very positive feedback from the employers on their seminars.
The job seekers were able to attend seminars on Disability Disclosure presented by Candace Low from Independence Unlimited and Dr. Karen Kangas from Advocacy Unlimited. They were also able to attend a seminar on Behavioral Interviewing led by Beth Hubel from Prudential Insurance. The job seekers felt that the seminars were very worthwhile in preparing them for the interview process.
Following the seminars a lunch break, job seekers had the opportunity to meet with employers and discover the resources available to them during the Career Fair. The employers were pleased with the flow of job seekers and job seekers were pleased with the variety of employers and opportunities.
If you missed the opportunity to participate in this year’s Career Fair and would like to attend “the disability employment event of the year” in 2014, please contact Sharon Denson at firstname.lastname@example.org.