If you read my last blog post, you know that I recently traveled back to my hometown, Chicago, to get together with community leaders and ordinary Americans. Through meetings, roundtables and one-on-one conversations, I wanted to get a sense of both the progress and the needs of Chicagoans with disabilities. My first stop was at the healthcare careers summit, where I heard stories of triumph from people with disabilities who successfully pursued their passions and careers in medicine. The next stop on my hometown tour allowed me to speak a little more personally about my passion, because I had the chance to talk about the great place where I work: the federal government.
On May 18, I joined Christine Griffin, the Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management, Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy in the Department of Labor, Dinah Cohen, the Director for the Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) and Joyce Bender, the CEO of Bender Consulting Services and a disability employment advocate, to train our Chicago colleagues in federal agencies on Executive Order 13548. In that crucial Executive Order, President Obama instructed the Federal Government to become a model employer for people with disabilities. To ensure that agencies and their many branches understand the order and how they can actively recruit people with disabilities, we have been conducting training sessions across the country. So far, we’ve hit San Antonio, San Diego, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and now Chicago, and there are more cities on our calendar. These training sessions are crucial to ensure that President Obama’s desire to hire more federal employees with disabilities is realized and that those who desire a career in the government are able to find one.
One of the great parts about working for the federal government is the incredible variety of opportunities. There are offices that need lawyers, like Department of Justice, and other agencies that can use the guidance of former nonprofit directors like Assistant Secretary Martinez. And while the training session in Chicago is part of the effort to get the agencies and federal offices on board with the Executive Order, there are also plenty of resources for job seekers with disabilities. Make sure to check out the federal employment page on Disability.gov and the page on USAJOBS.gov for individuals with disabilities. After browsing those sites, don’t forget to check back here for more on my adventures in Chicago.