Starkloff promotes hiring of skilled workers with disabilities at Nexus forum

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Sixty-five individuals including human resources recruiters representing 23 different St. Louis businesses attended the first-ever fall employment panel hosted by the St. Louis Regional Employment Nexus, of which Starkloff Disability Institute is a proud member.

The panel took place on November 9 at the Missouri Job Center in St. Ann. The panel included those who have successfully employed skilled workers with disabilities and individuals with disabilities working in skilled positions.

SDI partner companies were represented by Amy Hunter of Boeing, Matt Nyberg of Centene and Dawn Higgins of Nestle Purina. They were joined by Adriana Sedlacek of Watlow.

Starkloff Career Academy alumni Bryan Parrish of Bayer and Joshua Goff of Maryville University represented skilled employees with disabilities. They were joined by Aimee Wehmeier, Director of Paraquad; Andrew Lackey of the St. Louis City Office on the Disabled; and Quisha Foster of the Lighthouse for the Blind.

“This Nexus event was a great opportunity for the business community to learn from their peers how diversity and inclusion can benefit their organization,” said Richard Coleman, Senior Director of Employment Services at UCP Heartland and Co-Chair of the St. Louis Nexus. “They had a chance to hear from other businesses that successfully hire individuals with disabilities, and they got to hear from the disability community about the struggles they face when looking for work. Nexus is quickly becoming a valuable resource to the business community.”

Comments from the audience were overwhelmingly positive:

“Thank you for the opportunity to learn about this untapped resource for my industry. I am eager to bride the resources Nexus has with the food services community,” said one.

“Enjoyed the candid conversations to break down biases, learn from each other. I am taking these ideas of inclusion back to our organization,” said another.

The St. Louis Regional Employment Network is the third of what are now 14 regional employment nexuses in Missouri. Started in Kansas City, the mission of the regional employment nexuses is to help eliminate barriers to employment by providing a single resource to area employers for training and recruitment. The St. Louis Regional Employment Nexus now boasts over two dozen member organizations from St. Louis City and County.

Jason Hartsfield, Adult Career Services Coordinator for the Starkloff Career Academy, is a member of the St. Louis Regional Employment Nexus strategic planning committee.

“I love the entire idea of this group,” says Jason. “The Nexus presents an opportunity for all of us working to eliminate barriers to employment to share resources and strengthen our individual missions. Being a part of this group has been hugely beneficial to the Starkloff Career Academy and Starkloff Disability Institute.”

SDI would like to thank all our panelists and members of the St. Louis Regional Employment Network, including co-chairs Richard Coleman and Bonnie Forker of Paraquad as well as fellow strategic planning committee member Matt Jannings of the Center for Specialized Services.

The St. Louis Regional Employment Nexus meets from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Missouri Job Center in St. Ann, Missouri the third Thursday of every month. Membership is free, and any organization working to eliminate barriers to employment is welcome to attend.

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