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Partners Alumni

Working Hard So Others Can Too

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is celebrated each year in October. This month recognizes the efforts made to make employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities more accessible and inclusive. The hard work performed by Americans with disabilities and their allies in the past and in the present have formed the improved conditions and policies we see today. To continue to build on the progress that has been made since 1945, when NDEAM was first acknowledged, disability advocates are still making strides in Texas. Many Partners Alumni have dedicated their capstone projects to better conditions and supports for Texans with disabilities seeking employment.

Partners Alumni NDEAM Highlight

Akili Atkinson

Project Title: Autism in the Workplace: Supporting Employers and Employees

Atkinson created a training curriculum to assist both employers and individuals on the Autism Spectrum in the workplace. Atkinson is the founder of Akili’s Corner, which provides coaching for parents and employers to support neurodivergent employees and guides neurodivergent individuals to self-advocate so they can live life, and work, on their own terms.

Stephanie Picazo

In collaboration with: Elizabeth Hinojosa and Katy McBeth.

Project Title: The Advocacy Support Project for Potential Workers with Disabilities (ASAP Project)

As part of a group collaboration, this project created an advocacy support program for adults with disabilities who are determined to enter the employment world but have concerns about losing their Social Security income and Medicaid benefits. The Partners developed a curriculum designed to inform participants about being an employee with a disability. They plan to serve and educate groups of 6 participants at a time, with the goal of providing participants with guidance and support as they transition into the workforce.

Evelyn Cano

Evelyn Cano

Project Title: Rio Grande Valley Employment

For her project, Cano established the Disability Chamber of Commerce in Rio Grande Valley, the fourth disability chamber in the nation. With a priority on accessibility and inclusion, the chamber recognizes employers leading the Rio Grande Valley in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and helps other employers and leaders learn about the importance of inclusion in the workforce.

Meridith Silcox

Project Title: Creating Disability Employee Resource Groups

Silcox developed a disability employee resources group (ERG) at the YMCA of the USA. The focus of the group is to support employees with disabilities and support hiring managers on hiring, leading, and supporting employees with disabilities. Additionally, the group supports executive directors to make sure their center is accessible to employees and the community. This ERG is a pilot association. The ultimate goal is to replicate this association nationally and add disability ERGs across the U.S.


Take Action

In conjunction with this year’s theme for NDEAM, Disability: Part of the Equity Equation, you can become a part of the equation to accelerate the movement of having more individuals with disabilities in the workforce. Get involved in your local community to make minor changes for a major impact:

  • Advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in all community spaces and your place of work.
  • Act as a mentor to Texans with disabilities seeking employment to assist them in finding meaningful job opportunities.
  • Use your leadership skills and positions to create accessible and inclusive work environments.

Together, we can build more inclusive work spaces for all Texans seeking employment.