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Howard County Announces 2019 Disability Awards Winners and Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month 

September 19, 2019 

Media Contacts:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022
Michelle Henry, ADA Coordinator, Department of Community Resources and Services, 410-313-6431 (Voice/Relay)

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Commission on Disabilities today announced the winners of the Commission’s 25th annual Awards Program. The program honors the outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations that advance full participation in community life for all people and promote the spirit and intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability rights laws.

“This year’s theme for Disability Employment Awareness Month will be ‘The Right Talent, Right Now.’ Here in Howard County, we are celebrating the skilled talents of our residents with disabilities and we are promoting full inclusion, right now,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “I congratulate all of our 2019 Disability Award Winners for making strides toward awareness, empowerment, and expansion of opportunity. Thanks to these dedicated businesses, organizations, and individuals, our community will ensure that anyone who wants to work, can work.” 

Honorees will be recognized at an awards ceremony on Thursday, October 3 at 7:00 p.m. at the Roger Carter Community Center, 3000 Milltowne Drive in Ellicott City. This year’s award winners are: 

Employer Award: Anegada Delights Caribbean Cuisine – Anegada Delights Caribbean Cuisine is recognized for their commitment to providing equal opportunities for employees with disabilities, as evidenced by inclusive hiring and staff development practices.

Employer Award: Heartlands Senior Living of Ellicott City – Heartlands Senior Living of Ellicott City is recognized for utilizing the skills and talents of individuals with disabilities in order to meet business needs, as evidenced by inclusive recruitment, hiring, and accommodations practices. 

Service Award: Lindsey Ritter and Diane Rogers – Lindsey Ritter and Diane Rogers, educators in the Howard County Public School System, are recognized for increasing awareness and acceptance of disability and inclusion through interactive classroom activities.

Service Award: Ia Shubitidze – Ia Shubitidze, a committed home health care aide, is recognized for supporting individuals with disabilities to enable them to live meaningful, self-directed lives as full participants in their communities.

Service Award: Special Olympics Maryland-Howard County – Special Olympics Maryland-Howard County is recognized for their commitment to improving the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities through sports, by promoting physical fitness, social connections, and the development of sportsmanship and teamwork skills.

Individual Achievement Award: Jim Barrett – Jim Barrett, a recent high school and Project SEARCH graduate, is recognized for being a role model in employment by demonstrating that success is achievable through a strong work ethic, goal-setting, and a willingness to learn.

Individual Achievement Award: Juan Carroll – Juan Carroll, a dedicated employee of a local grocery store, is recognized for being a role model in employment by demonstrating that success is achievable through a strong work ethic, enthusiasm, and active community involvement.

Programmatic Accessibility Award: Meagan Downey – Meagan Downey, program manager at the Robinson Nature Center, is recognized for her leadership and commitment to providing a welcoming, accessible, and sensory-friendly recreation environment that is responsive to the needs of visitors.

Leadership Award: Brenda Kelly-Frey – Brenda Kelly-Frey, who recently retired as director of Maryland Relay, is recognized for her life-long efforts to ensure communication access for all and for her personal and professional commitment to increasing public awareness and advancing the rights of people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

The Commission on Disabilities presents these awards each year in October during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which was created to spread awareness about disability employment issues, promote inclusion and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year, the Commission recognizes the following employers for their efforts to build inclusive workforces: Antwerpen Nissan of Clarksville, Brookfield Christian School of Maple Lawn, Howard County Public School System Central Office, and Pizza Hut of Ellicott City.

The 2019 keynote address, “Empowering Our Ecosystem,” will be presented by Kelby Brick, Director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  Mr. Brick will highlight systemic barriers in society that limit opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing Marylanders and discuss retaining and harnessing the collective socio-economic power of individuals, organizations, and businesses in our community through collaboration and support. There will also be a panel discussion with deaf business owners. 

The awards ceremony is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited. To RSVP and/or to request accommodations, contact Erica Lewis at 410-313-6402 (voice/relay) or by Thursday, September 26.