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Media contact: Melinda Johnson, Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues & Employment, 509-482-3854             

Governor’s Committee honors businesses that hire people with disabilities

OLYMPIA – Nine public and private employers are being honored today for their exemplary work to recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities.

Washington’s Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues & Employment (GCDE) and Disability:In Washington  organized the 27th Annual Governor’s Employer Awards ceremony. It is being held this year at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond.

The committee established a new award this year honoring Toby Olson, the former Executive Secretary for GCDE. The Toby Olson Legacy Award was presented to Rhonda Brown, his wife. The award honors Toby’s body of work, vision, dedication and determination, which continues to significantly affectt the disability community through legislation and policy development

Winners of the 2019 Governor’s Employer Awards Program:

  • Bella’s Voice – Lynnwood
  • Huntwood Industries – Liberty Lake
  • Jerrol’s – Ellensburg
  • Kittitas County Government – Ellensburg
  • Quality Inn & Suites at Olympic National Park – Sequim
  • Swedish Hospital - Edmonds
  • S. Army Corp of Engineers – Seattle District
  • Washington Employment Security Department - Olympia
  • Welcome Home Oak Harbor Senior Memory Care

“This year, Washingtonians nominated 25 employers and 8 individuals for these esteemed awards,” said Conrad Reynoldson, chairman of the GCDE Awards Subcommittee. “The success of our ceremony highlights that inclusion is not just the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense!"

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.

In addition to recognizing the employers listed above, the Committee also honored Duane French for his commitment to people with disabilities. Duane received the Governor’s Trophy in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown posthumously. This award is given to someone with a disability who has significantly empowered people with disabilities in Washington. Duane was the Division Director for Disability Determination Services with the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services.

The Direct Support Professional Award — a lifetime achievement award — went to Colleen Thornburg from Washington Vocational Services. Thornburg creates meaningful job opportunities for workers with disabilities.

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

For interviews with the award winners and photos from the award ceremony, contact Melinda Johnson. For more information about the GCDE, contact Elizabeth Gordon at 360-902-9489.

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