Thursday, November 27, 2014

Reflections on Alameda County's Community Conversation

By Linda Ratner, East Bay Innovations

On September 4, 2014, 88 people came together in downtown Oakland to begin a conversation about expanding employment opportunities for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. 


As a recipient of a grant from UCLA's Tarjan Center, EBI was asked to coordinate this event with other Alameda County advocates. The overwhelming turnout, the diversity of perspectives in the room, and the many ideas that emerged, made this "community conversation" a successful first step.

Lady Idos, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Senior Diversity and Inclusion Analyst, participated in the conversation, and remarked: 
 
"I was very impressed with the great strides being taken by Alameda County to partner with community-based organizations, like East Bay Innovations, to increase employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities." 
 
"Knowing that this important endeavor is a collaborative effort, the County invited people with disabilities, government agencies, public and private employers, schools, funders, policy makers, advocacy groups, faith organizations, parents, and other allies in the room to share their ideas and best practices. Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk, and County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley were also present to express their unwavering support. I am hopeful that this is only the beginning of our dialogue, and that we can widen the campaign to make a positive impact." 


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) employs three adults served by EBI. "Not only do they contribute to the daily operation at LBNL by performing their job duties with skill. They're part of a pipeline," Lady describes, "bringing individuals with disabilities into the workforce, adding important cultural and cognitive diversity." 


With employers at the Alameda County Community Conversation encouraged to begin thinking about employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, LBNL's strong endorsement of Supported Employment can help move the conversation forward.

ARE YOU AN EMPLOYER WHO WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT? A FAMILY MEMBER OF A STUDENT WHO WILL SOON BE A JOBSEEKER? DO YOU KNOW AN EMPLOYER WHO WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HIRING INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES? CONTACT:  LORI KOTSONAS, lkotsonas@eastbayinnovations.org

For more information about East Bay Innovations, please visit 
our website at www.eastbayinnovations.org

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