NOD BRINGS TOGETHER GLOBAL DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION LEADERS, CELEBRITIES AND POLICY INFLUENCERS TO HONOR THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT AT ANNUAL FORUM

Sep 30, 2020

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GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE PRESENTS AWARDS TO INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS MAKING EXCEPTIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS IN DISABILITY INCLUSION                                            

NEW YORK (September 30, 2020) – Today, more than 300 diversity and inclusion leaders from global companies attended the National Organization on Disability’s (NOD) Annual Forum presented by platinum-level sponsors Prudential Financial, Spectrum and Target. The inspiring two-hour webcast entitled, “ADA at 30: What’s Next?”, addressed the challenges and opportunities of building a more disability inclusive society in the midst of the global pandemic and the fight for social and economic justice in our country.

The program paid homage to the activists, officials and allies who enacted the ADA and its promise of equality, and those who fulfilled that legacy by breaking down barriers for Americans with disabilities, especially in the workforce.  Leaders of yesterday and today examined progress made in increasing disability employment and barriers to employment that still remain. The forum, emceed by actors and disability advocates Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld) and Robert David Hall (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), featured an influential group of speakers and topics including:

  • A meaningful discussion with disability rights activist Judy Heumann and disability policy expert Lex Frieden that explored how grassroots activism led to the landmark civil rights legislation in 1990, and how those lessons can be used today to close the disability employment gap.
  • A message from Senator Robert P. Casey addressing what the ADA means today and how to preserve the gains made by the disability community in a turbulent political and economic era.
  • A practical discussion, moderated by Mike Shebanek from Facebook, with esteemed panelists Director of Accessibility Jake Konerza, Target, and Vice President of Accessibility Steve Raymond, Charter about how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the virtual workplace, where accessible technology is critical to productivity and engagement.
  • Other speakers included NOD Chairman Governor Tom Ridge, NOD President Carol Glazer and Prudential Financial Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey.

“I applaud all of the companies who participated in NOD’s Annual Forum as they are making a purposeful and laudatory commitment to hiring people with disabilities and creating an inclusive workplace that allows all people to thrive,” said NOD Chairman Governor Tom Ridge. “While we owe a great deal to the activists that sparked the disability rights movement, actually fulfilling the promise of the ADA requires all of us to do our part. Business and community leaders must continue to come together, as we are doing right now, to reaffirm their belief in and commitment to a truly inclusive workforce and a truly inclusive America.”

In addition, Chairperson Governor Tom Ridge presented three distinguished awards to the following honorees:

  • The Kessler Foundation, a pillar in the disability community for its philanthropic support, received the Alan A. Reich Award for its exceptional contributions in disability inclusion.  This award, named in honor of NOD’s founder who helped spark a movement to ensure people with disabilities were represented equally in all aspects of life, is given to an established leader who is advancing disability rights.
  • The Coca-Cola Company, one of the most respected global brands in the world, received the Charles F. Dey Award for their significant efforts to ensure that disability plays a vital role in the diversity and inclusion equation in both the company and the foundation.
  • Judy Heumann received the NOD Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless efforts to make the ADA a reality for millions of individuals with disabilities and her continued work to build a brighter and stronger future for many more.

Lastly, 68 organizations were honored as the 2020 NOD Leading Disability Employers for their exemplary hiring and employment practices for people with disabilities. Now in its sixth year, the NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal is awarded to the top performers on NOD’s Disability Employment Tracker, a free and confidential assessment that benchmarks companies’ disability inclusion programs.

About the Leading Disability Employer Seal + Disability Employment Tracker

To see current and past winners of the NOD Leading Disability Employer seal, visit www.NOD.org/seal.

To be considered for the 2021 NOD Leading Disability Employer seal, companies must complete the free and confidential Disability Employment Tracker assessment during the qualifying window. For more information and to sign up, visit www.NOD.org/tracker.

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