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Contact: media@esd.wa.gov 

Governor’s Committee honors employers who hire people with disabilities

OLYMPIA – The Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues & Employment (GCDE) honored 10 employers earlier this month for their exemplary work recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing workers with disabilities.

The committee also recognized two individuals for their commitment and dedication to improve the lives of those with disabilities.

The Washington GCDE hosted its 31st annual Governor’s Employer Awards Program on Oct. 6 at the Wenatchee Convention Center in Wenatchee.

Recipients of the 2023 Governor’s Employer Awards Program are:

  • Chuck E. Cheese Burlington - Youth Employer of the Year Award

  • Center for Independence - Small Non-Profit Employer of the Year Award

  • New Leaf, Inc. – Medium Non-Profit Employer of the Year Award

  • Juanita KinderCare - Small Private Employer of the Year Award

  • Thompson Seattle - Medium Private Employer of the Year Award

  • Thrive Communities - Large Private Employer of the Year Award

  • Washington State Department of Financial Institutions – Medium Public (State) Employer of the Year Award

  • City of Kent – Large Public (City) Employer of the Year Award

  • Washington State Health Care Authority – Large Public (State) Employer of the Year Award

  • Washington River Protection Solutions – Large Public (Federal) Employer of the Year Award

The committee also acknowledged:

  • Marci Carpenter with the Governor’s Trophy in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown. This award, named after a former GCDE member, is the highest honor given to someone with a disability who has significantly empowered people with disabilities in Washington. Carpenter was recognized for:

    • Supporting parents of blind children who receive needed education.

    • Helping the City of Seattle be more ADA compliant.

    • Fighting for disability equality in the Legislature.

    • Decades of working with state and national federations to fight for the rights of people with disabilities in all areas of life.

  • Anja Post with the Direct Support Professional of the Year Award. Post, in her 32-plus year career, has built many relationships with employers in her community, giving her the ability to quickly place the right person in the right position. Post also creates relationships with her clients. She gets to know the whole person, enabling her to understand not only their interests, but their strengths and weaknesses as employees and as people. 

“This year, Washingtonians nominated 24 employers and nine individuals for these esteemed awards,” said Yvonne Bussler White, chairperson of the GCDE Employer Awards subcommittee. “The success of our ceremony highlights how hiring a diverse workforce leads to innovations that can be leveraged within a business, bringing about companywide benefits and improving work processes for everyone."

Washington businesses, agencies, organizations and individuals submitted the nominations. A panel of GCDE members, business representatives and previous award recipients selected this year’s honorees.

The GCDE advises the governor, Legislature, state agencies and other policy makers on issues important to people with disabilities.

For interviews with and photos of the award recipients, email media@esd.wa.gov.