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Employers, Organizations and Individuals Recognized

On Thursday, October 7, 2004, the Governor’s Committee on Employment & Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities will hold its Annual Awards Ceremony honoring individual Alaskan’s, employers and organizations that have helped advance the employment of people with disabilities. This year’s awards ceremony coincides with activities across the nation that recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The Ceremony will be held from 4 pm to 6 pm at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge in the Edgewater Ballroom. There is no charge for this event.

The Governor’s Committee on Employment & Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities will honor the following individuals, employers and organizations at this year’s awards ceremony:

The GOVERNOR’S AWARD is awarded to Kathy Privratsky. This past year Kathy went above and beyond the call of duty to save a non-profit agency in distress. When the small agency’s executive director and assistant both announced their resignations, Kathy, on a volunteer basis, pulled the agency up by their bootstraps writing grant reports and proposals. Thanks to her the agency secured funding for an additional year and people with disabilities will continue to receive the technology they need!

The SMALL EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD is awarded to Safeway Eagle Foods in Seward. They are recognized for their exceptional effort to employ people with disabilities and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Safeway Eagle Foods has made it possible for people to become self-sufficient and has been an exemplary example to other businesses in Seward which have in-turned followed suit and hired people with disabilities.

The LARGE EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD recognizes a business with more than 200 employees and this year it’s awarded to Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines has employed people with disabilities for several years and has taken major steps to educate its employees about the value of hiring people with disabilities. Throughout the nation they have sponsored and conducted training on disability issues. This has resulted in a higher level of awareness and better services for everyone who flies on Alaska Airlines.

The REMOVAL OF ATTITUDINAL BARRIERS AWARD recognizes an agency or individual that has made a significant contribution to the reduction or elimination of attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities. This year Selina Moose of Anchorage was selected as the award recipient. She was nominated for her courage to speak out and start community discussions about AIDS in remote villages in Alaska. This was a topic that was never previously discussed in public. She is quoted as saying “HIV can wipe out a village – we had to tell our people because not telling them may mean extinction. We honored our parents by thinking of our children and the future generations to come.” The award is given in honor of her brother Frank who died of AIDS and for her supportive family members.

The CAROLYN PETER VOLUNTEERISM AWARD honors a person who devotes a considerable amount of time to volunteer activities that affect people with disabilities at a local, state or national levels. Marci Clifton is the selected recipient of this award. She is described as being an inspiration to others and has volunteered at numerous agencies throughout Anchorage. “She is a relentless voice for those who cannot always speak for themselves.” Marci, who also has a disability, spends a substantial amount of time advocating for the poor and people with disabilities. She strives to empower and educate people so they may help themselves.

The BARRIER FREE DESIGN AWARD recognizes the architect or owner whose facility design and construction demonstrates exceptional access for use by people with disabilities. Anchorage RV Park which is owned by the Native Corporation, Cook Inlet was selected for this award. The Park has numerous accessible features including paved paths, campsites, and fully accessible showers and toilet facilities.

The CHAIRPERSON AWARD. This award recognizes an individual who is an inspiration and a role model to others who has increased the awareness of employing people with disabilities. Mr. Casey Rasley who resides in Fairbanks is the recipient of this award. Mr. Rasley, who has a disability, has been an employee of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library for the past twenty-five years. He is described as being pleasant, outgoing and a person who has a willingness to get to know and greet everyone in the Library. Casey Rasley is commended for his dedication and long-term employment with the University of Alaska Fairbanks!

The HEWITT MEMORIAL AWARD recognizes an individual who is an outstanding rehabilitation professional who has been of extraordinary benefit to individuals with disabilities. John Osborne is this year’s recipient of the Hewitt Memorial Award. John has spent over 25 years working in the vocational rehabilitation field. He started working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in 1975 in Tennessee and moved to Alaska in 1981.John recently retired from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation as the Regional Manager for Southeast Alaska. During his career John exemplified the meaning of “collaboration”; he co-authored a grant that provided funding for the Tlingit and Haida Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Today because of John’s collaborative efforts, that program is a national model for other Tribal programs. More than just a teacher to VR staff, John proved to be a true mentor and leader.

The ALASKAN OF THE YEAR AWARD is awarded to Mr. Kevin Lankford of Fairbanks. This award honors an individual with a disability whose achievements are an inspiration to all people. Mr. Lankford is employed as a Licensed Psychological Associate and provides direct services to individuals with disabilities. He has done an outstanding job in promoting the public awareness of how to assist those with disabilities in practical and feasible ways. Mr. Lankford knows first hand about he issues affecting people with disabilities as he has Cerebral Palsy. His psychological assessments have been described as being factual, honest and well received by his clients. He empowers those he serves by giving them constructive information about themselves that leads them to making realistic vocational choices.

Front row: Marci Clifton - Carolyn Peter Volunteerism Award, Amy Taute & Mary Wallace representing Alaska Airlines - Large Employer of the Year -, & Casey Rasley - Chairperson’s Award
Back row: Chip Drawdy (Safeway Foods) - Small Employer of the Year, John Osborne - Hewitt Memorial, Selina Moose - Removal of Attitudinal Barriers, & Kevin Lankford - Alaskan of the Year, & Kathy Privratsky – Governor’s Award, Cook Inlet Native Corporation – Barrier Free Design (not pictured)

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