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CAAID Honors Individuals Embracing Inclusion

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

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Hire Disability Solutions recently celebrated the achievements of individuals with disabilities in June at the first annual Corporate Achievers Award for Individuals with Disabilities (CAAID). The event, held in May at New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel, honored corporations and individuals who have embraced Inclusion and who have eliminated barriers that the disability community has faced.

HDS was a proud major corporate sponsor of this event. CAAID is a Washington-based non-profit company that runs a range of programs to assist people with disabilities. The first annual event recognized organizations and individuals that are committed to promoting equal access, opportunity and full participation of professionals with disabilities.

There are approximately 54 million Americans that are disabled in the United States. They represent 20% of the marketplace and have a total buying power of $220 billion in discretionary spending. Many companies and organizations believe bringing more people with disabilities into the workforce will have a positive impact on their culture as well as their bottom line.

This year’s CAAID attendees included individuals representing Pfizer, The McGraw-Hill, Pepsi, Colgate-Palmolive, MetLife, City University of New York, New York State, U. S. Department of Labor, Pernod Ricard, and the U. S. Military in New York City.

Among the awards handed out, the Corporate Achiever awards went to Lee Brodsky, president of The Carey Group, a software consulting firm, and Lori Shafner, a vice president of Pfizer’s Medicine Development Group. Pfizer is the maker of Apixban, a stroke prevention drug.

This year’s Non-Profit Achievers were Enable America, a non-profit that works to help people with disabilities find employment and live independently. One Enable program, VetConnect, pairs wounded warriors with veterans who have faced similar challenges to help them re-acclimate to civilian life. Another winner: Wesley Poriotis, co-founder of Veterans Across America.

Other notable honorees included Kessler Foundation, which provides funding for rehabilitation research that improves the lives of people with disabilities; Kessler won the Foundation Achiever award.

Participants also attended panels designed to help facilitate the hiring and inclusion of people with disabilities. One panel discussed ways to better support and value the contributions that workers with disabilities bring to the table. For example, the City University of New York, which has 9,000 active students with disabilities, has created, CUNY LEADS, a partnership between the City University of New York (CUNY) and Vocational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) to give students with disabilities counseling and guidance, assessment, textbooks and materials, and access to tuition assistance, CUNY Leads has referred more than 1,900 students to VESID in the last two years.

At Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant’s ties its disability initiative to business success by showing how their support touches the customer, suppliers and the community in which they operate. Through its Disability & Inclusion colleague resource group, Pfizer does extensive education outreach and advertising; the company was recently named one of Connecticut’s top employers for hiring, promoting and retaining colleagues with disabilities.

To nominate an individual or attend the 2011 CAAID event in New York City, go to http://caaid.us