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State of Alaska > DOLWD > Vocational Rehabilitation > State Vocational Rehabilitation Committee

Committee Honors Individuals with Disabilities, Employers
and Organizations

On Thursday October 13, 2005 the Governor’s Committee on Employment & Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities will hold its Annual Awards Ceremony in Fairbanks. The ceremony will honor individuals, employers and organizations that have helped advance the employment of people with disabilities. This year’s awards ceremony will coincide with activities across the nation that recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The ceremony will be held at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge in the Edgewater Ballroom from 4 to 6 pm. 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.

The Governor’s Award is awarded to Ted Burke, Employment Security Manager for the Juneau Job Center. With his passion and esoteric vision of collaboration, the Juneau Job Center was reconfigured under Mr. Burke’s leadership. In partnership with his teammates he developed a cross agency management team that re-designed a three-story, multi-agency and multi-tenant building into a customer focused and accessible Job Center. His disarming and non-threatening style allowed him to break down barriers that had prevented this from prior success. Mr. Burke has become an infectious catalyst for customer service. His humility, grace and his focus on customers exemplify the type of leadership that is needed in our national workforce system.

Small Employer of the Year is awarded to Ty Kuiper the National Account Manager for MSDS Pro in Anchorage. Mr. Kuiper, a former recipient of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is recognized for giving back to his community by hiring and training individuals with disabilities. He is described as being a very helpful and successful employer. The Small Employer of the Year Award honors businesses with fewer than 200 employees that make an exceptional effort to employ people with disabilities and comply the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Large Employer of the Year is awarded to Colonel Donna Boltz of the United States Army in Fort Richardson. Colonel Boltz is being recognized for her effort to convert 60 employees with disabilities from temporary employment status into permanent employment status. These individuals now receive the benefits they deserve as permanent federal employees. This was a very complicated process which took over five years to achieve. Colonel Boltz worked closely with the Office of Personnel Management, National Offices in Washington DC and Senators Ted Stevens, Lisa Murkowski and Alaska’s Governor Frank Murkowski to accomplish this important feat.

Youth Award recognizes an Alaskan student with a disability who excels academically or contributes to the community and serves as an inspiration to other youth with disabilities. This year’s award recipient is Erin Kelahan of Palmer. Erin, who has Brittle Bone Disease, is recognized for being very active in her community and school. She recently was awarded the Presidential Award for providing over 100 hours of community service. Since 7th grade Erin has been a member of the youth court system where she has earned the Presiding Judge position. She is described as being articulate, outgoing, smart and brave. Erin doesn’t let her physical limitations interfere with her ability to contribute to her peers, community and school.

Carolyn Peter Volunteerism Award honors a person who devotes considerable amount of time to volunteer activities that affect people with disabilities at local, state or national levels. Ms Amy M. Bumanglag of Palmer is the recipient of this award. Amy has spent many hours volunteering her services at school and in her community. Amy has developed a positive attitude and outlook on life. She plans on obtaining skills that will enable her to own her own business. Amy has a plan for her life and is well on her way to achieving it.

Chairperson Award This award recognizes an individual who is a role model and who has increased the awareness of employing people with disabilities. Ms. Brandy “Roxanne” Hoskins of Fairbanks is the recipient of this award. Two years ago Ms. Hoskins participated in Access Alaska’s High School High Tech Program. This was a difficult time for her as she was 16 and pregnant. Through the next two years she participated in multiple internships and focused on gaining job seeking and job readiness skills. Ms. Hoskins recently assisted in a presentation to teachers at a NASA sponsored conference. Here she told them her life story to emphasize how youth with disabilities are not to be kept out of life’s opportunities. This past spring Ms. Hoskins obtained her GED and is currently working as a care provider at Fairbanks Resource Agency. She is raising her son and plans to pursue a career as a medical examiner.

Hewitt Memorial Award recognizes an individual who is an outstanding rehabilitation professional who has been of extraordinary benefit to individuals with disabilities. This year’s recipient of the Hewitt Memorial Award is Kent Ireton. Kent started work with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in 1993 as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and was promoted to Program Coordinator for Blind Services. He recently relocated with his family to Idaho. Kent was nominated by the staff of the Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He is recognized for the superb services he provided to individuals who were blind or severely visually impaired. In addition to his professionalism Kent is renowned for his ability to establish trust and rapport with individuals facing multiple challenges. Because of his guidance many people were able to become independent, productive and engaged in life again.

Removal of Attitudinal Barriers Award recognizes an individual that has made a significant contribution to the reduction or elimination of attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities. This year’s award recipient is Randy Miller who is employed as a Supported Employment Specialist with ALPA in Fairbanks. He has been described as a constant source of inspiration to his coworkers for the services he provides to the individuals he serves. His coworkers said he is creative, patient and resilient. Mr. Miller is viewed as being not only a job coach but, a true mentor who is not afraid to go against the “status-quo” where his consumers are concerned.

Alaskan of the Year Award honors a person with a disability whose achievements are an inspiration to all. Jerry Kainulainen is the Alaskan of the Year. Mr. Kainulainen is an amazing and tireless advocate for people with disabilities. He has effected change on local, statewide and national levels in attitudes and standards as they relate to accessibility. Hired as an Independent Living Specialist with Southeast Alaska Independent Living 14 years ago he is currently the agency’s Coordinator. Jerry administers Independent Living activities from their Sitka office. He has assisted individuals in making a smooth transition back to work by providing thorough and comprehensive benefit counseling services. Jerry worked as a firefighter from 1971 – 1977 and advanced through the ranks of volunteer to Assistant Chief. He retired as Assistant Chief as the result of an aerial ladder accident and has used a wheelchair ever since. Jerry has been a consistent and strong advocate for people with disabilities for over 20 years. His example has inspired others to follow in his footsteps. The services Jerry has provided have improved the quality of life for numerous individuals throughout Alaska.

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