Disability:IN North Carolina (DI-NC) celebrated October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) by holding their annual Fall Conference at Trane Technologies in Davidson, North Carolina. The theme, ‘Great Leaders Create Great Cultures,’ resonated with the more than 100 attendees from across the state of North Carolina.
Keynote speaker Laurie Henneborn from Accenture shared the financial benefits of companies who include disability inclusion as part of their strategy. Jamie Dean from Microsoft touched on the necessity of accessibility in the workforce in reference to Microsoft products. John Robinson from Our Abilities demonstrated how artificial intelligence (AI) is moving the dial on employment for individuals with a disability, while Holly Riddle from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shared how her father promoted disability inclusion throughout the state of North Carolina.
A record 14 member companies were recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion in North Carolina. Trane Technologies, Lowe’s, Wells Fargo, Equitable, EY, TIAA, Novant Health, Pfizer, Atrium Health, SAS, Biogen, MetLife, Sodexo and Ally were all recognized.
Chauncy Barnhill from Wells Fargo was the recipient of the Steve LaBour Leadership Award, recognizing his accomplishments and vision opening doors for people with disabilities. Lee Anne Tourigny received the Joseph T. Brown Memorial Award for Outstanding Young Leadership for her contributions in advancing inclusion at UNC Charlotte.
Attendees enjoyed breakout sessions highlighting several of DI-NC’s signature programs. These programs included the expansion of the CommunAbility: DI-NC Mentoring program, supporting North Carolina HBCUs by connecting students with disabilities to business mentors; the Healthy Blue Apprenticeship initiative, designed to promote disability inclusive apprenticeship programs; and the STAR Pre-ETS program in partnership with the Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center (ECAC), delivering virtual pre-employment training services to high school students with disabilities while offering a business mentoring opportunity. The conference finale included the first-ever CommunAbility: DI-NC Mixer, allowing students from HBCUs and other NC-based universities to meet and network with member companies and other employers from around the state.
“Disability:IN North Carolina’s Fall Conference is the place where business leaders and stakeholders from across NC, come together to listen and learn from each other, challenge each other to be innovative and advance disability inclusion and equality,” said Beth Butler Fadel, executive director of DI-NC.
DI-NC serves as the collective voice for North Carolina businesses and other stakeholders committed to the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace. DI-NC empowers businesses to achieve disability inclusion and equality by offering innovative education and training, building business networks and providing strategic consultation, support and resources. The organization continues to be one of the largest and most active of Disability:IN’s 24-member Global Affiliate Network and was recognized as the 2020 Disability:IN Affiliate of the Year. To learn more, visit di-nc.org.