On Thursday, October 13th, the Center for Students with Disabilities, in collaboration with the Center for Career Services and the Ryan Martin Foundation, hosted “Disability Disclosure & Your Career” which was a panel of professionals within Connecticut that work to increase and retain professionals with disabilities across companies and careers. The panel centered on how to handle disclosure and advocate for one self throughout the job search. The names, affiliation, and brief biographies of the panelists are provided below. The panel allowed for questions and answer of those in attendance both by asking as well as submitting anonymous questions through an online system during the panel.
The panel dispelled myths about the job application process for students with disabilities such as checking off that one has a disability on a job application – this is done by employers with federal contracts to track the rates that disability is represented and is purely statistical, shared the panelists. The panelists also spoke about accommodation requests – many shared that though it is almost always a case-by-case scenario, it is important to have a conversation with one’s supervisor if the accommodation is needed in order to fulfill job expectations. The panelists shared that there are internal advocates within organizations to which students may be applying for jobs but that students should also not be afraid to advocate for their own needs as it may even open up the conversation for others to request and receive their own necessary accommodations.
Katie Halbruner of the Center for Students with Disabilities noted that this event demonstrates the commitment of the CSD to work with employers to help students with disabilities secure jobs.
Sharon Denson, M.Ed. J.D., a thought leader and subject matter expert in the field of diversity and inclusion, is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Business Leadership Netword. CTBLN is an organization of employers dedicated to bringing diversity full circle by including people with disabilities in the workplace. She is also the owner of Aldot Training and a consultant for Danbury based Gilman Performance Systems. She is a nationally known for her highly reviewed trainings which help businesses grow by tapping into a diverse talent pool. She holds a Master of Education from the University of Illinois and a Juris Doctor degree from Quinnipiac University School of Law.
Carly Duffy, Connect-Ability, CT Department of Rehabilitation Services
Ryan Martin was born with Spina Bifida and both of his legs were amputated at the age of two. Discovering basketball at 12 years old transformed Ryan’s world from “wheelchair bound” to bound for college, for professional basketball, and for traveling overseas. In 2007, Ryan joined the professional basketball league in Europe, completing 10 season in either Spain and France. This season Ryan is playing for the New York Rolling Knicks of the NWBA.
Before Ryan went pro, he attended college at Southwest Minnesota State University and led SMSU to the NWBA National Title Game in 2001. He graduated in 2002 with a degree in Secondary Education with a minor in Sociology. After graduation, Ryan joined the Phoenix Wheelchair Suns and played in the 2005 NWBA All-Star games.
Along with establishing his foundation, Ryan is a consultant for the NCAA and the United States Olympic Committee on their Inclusive Sports Model.
Lauren McAuley, Connect-Ability, CT Department of Rehabilitation Services
Jim McMahon is the Director of Inclusive Talent Acquisition and Outreach at Travelers Insurance interacting with external partners in multiple states. He is also responsible for Travelers Military and Veteran Programs. He has been instrumental in the company’s achievement of recognition on G.I. Jobs Magazine’s Top Military Friendly Employers list annually since 2007. Jim’s professional experience is made up of more than 25 years in Recruitment and Human Resources.
Fiona Mohrig is the Director, Health & Group Benefits at Stanley Black and Decker. Fiona holds a BA in Latin American Studies from York College of PA and is currently persuing a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) at UCONN in Farmington. She has worked in Health and Group benefits management, with a particular focus on disability management, for 20 years. While at The Hartford, she was a co-chair of the affinity group called FAN, focused on improving the onboarding and employment of employees with disabilities.
Awilda “Wendy” Rodriguez- I began working at Aetna during my senior year in high school from 1987-1988. I worked in temporary positions at Aetna, while attending UCONN until I graduated in 1992. I left for a short period, and had my daughter. I returned to Aetna working in various positions in HR payroll, benefits and disability. I have 25 years working at Aetna and most recently rejoined the HR Workplace Accommodations team where we administer/review accommodations requests and provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities.
Jade Scangarello interned in our community relations department and was converted full time to our HR Leadership Development Program. She’s completed the program and now works in Talent Acquisition as a diversity recruiter. When Jade was completing her rotations in HR, she worked in University Relations (recruited for our Finance intern and leadership development program) and also did a rotation where she worked on the development of our new General Management Internship and Leadership Program. Jade graduated Bentley University in 2015 with a bachelor’s in Managerial Economics.