As the Mayor’s Committee prepares to enter a new year, it becomes important to review the work of the past year with the questions in mind of ‘how did we do’ and ‘where can we do more’.

The Committee has been engaged in creating awareness in the business community of the benefits of employing individuals with disabilities. The work of the Committee has brought about open doors, opportunities and successes. We have seen barriers overcome and the way made clear for individuals with disabilities to enter the workforce, successfully hold a job, make friends and expand life experience, and play a role in the success of the business.

In the beginning of this year Ken Wiseman, who was the Committee Chair, wrote and published six guidelines, ranging from “Let’s match a job with a candidate,” to “You are doing your part as a Company focused on Civic Responsibility.” His message was appreciated and well received. Ken is CEO of a local business that is nationally recognized for its inclusive hiring practices.

Our event of the year took place on February 22nd: The second annual Educate-Empower-Employ Recognition Luncheon and fundraiser. This beautiful luncheon took place at the Institute of Culinary Education at College of the Canyons. It was an inspiring success, with increased participation across the board. The community’s participation in the annual luncheon moved the community forward, as we saw more businesses focusing on inclusion.

Our next step took place in June as we appointed new officers for the 2018/2019 term. We thanked the former officers for an excellent year, and made the following appointments: Araz Valijan, Chairperson; Jennifer Zimmerman and Kris Hough, Co-Vice Chairpersons (shared appointment); Treasurer, Alma Terranova; Event Chairperson, Kathleen Secchi; Website Committee Chairperson, Scott Shepard and Secretary, Lisa Kimura.

On October 9th, we held a 2nd annual event, organized in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The theme of the breakfast was “Sales101: Barrier Busting”, and the speakers and panel of experts that we brought together focused on “Getting Your Foot in the Door.” It was another very successful and enjoyable event with increased community participation.

Now, as we come together over the holidays, we cannot help but look forward into what outcomes we would like to see next year, and how we can better serve individuals with disabilities.

Mayor’s Committee Chair, Araz Valijan, who works as Administrative Analyst for the City of Santa Clarita, spoke about her hopes for the next year:

“The Mayor’s Committee made significant progress in 2018, and we are so proud of and grateful to the SCV business community for the enthusiastic participation in our events. When the business community takes advantage of the experience and knowledge of our board members, we enjoy a ‘win’ for the entire community.

“It has been a pleasure serving on the board this past year and I am proud of the work we’ve accomplished and the networks that have been put in place. I look forward to the many more endeavors this coming year, knowing that with continued effort we can truly ‘bust the barriers’ to employment of individuals with disabilities throughout our Valley.”