On October 9th, the Santa Clarita Valley Mayor’s Committee for Employment of Individuals with Disabilities held their annual breakfast in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This year the enjoyable and educational event was entitled “Sales101: Barrier Busting”.

Each year the Committee invites employers, job developers and service providers who are working to advance the employment of individuals with disabilities to join together in an informational breakfast event. The theme of the October Awareness month in 2018 is “America’s Workforce ~ Empowering All”. To speak on the subject, the Committee invited Charlene Lowe and Ken Wiseman, as well as a panel of experts to offer guidance on “Getting Your Foot in the Door”.

Santa Clarita Mayor, Laurene Weste, welcomed more than 70 attendees on behalf of the City Council, and thanked the SCV Mayor’s Committee for coordinating and hosting the event. Mayor Weste explained that providing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities is more important than ever, with competition for jobs growing.

Presentations by Mayor’s Committee Board Members Ken Wiseman and Charlene Lowe, provided Job Developers with tools and new perspectives as well as helpful tips. Charlene Lowe is Senior Human Resources Leader at Southern California Edison, and Ken Wiseman is CEO, AMS Fulfillment.

Scott Shepard, Director, Avenues SLS, moderated the event. The panel consisted of the following individuals: Marsha Aragon, Operations Manager, Cardinal Health; Steve Youlios, Owner, Jersey Mike’s Restaurant; Vivian Kimoto, Department of Rehabilitation; and Sue Arellano, Business Assistance Manager, Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation.

Some of the subjects discussed were recurring challenges and growing concerns expressed by local job developers, vocational and job training programs. One of these was the challenge related to getting a foot-in-the-door or past the “gatekeepers” on cold calls in order to speak with employers about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.

The panel provided new perspectives when approaching businesses and larger companies with regard to hiring individuals with disabilities. To reframe the approach, Job Developers were encouraged to move away from asking for something and chasing down employers, and instead to offer a solution for an employer who is looking for qualified employees who tend to be punctual, loyal, stay with companies (retention), are hard-working and tend to call in much less often than the overall population of employees.

Inspired by the success of the event, Araz Valijan, Board Chair of the Mayor’s Committee, offered the following: “I am thrilled to have had such a great turnout for this event. As a board, we aim to have our finger on the pulse of what the needs are in the community and to ensure we either meet them, or know who can!”

The Mayor’s Committee would like to thank the presenters and the panel, and to thank the attendees including representatives from numerous local legislators.

Photos courtesy of Stacy Carrillo, AMS Fulfillment Account Manager.