of Alaska > DOLWD > Vocational
Rehabilitation > State Vocational Rehabilitation Committee
Committee Honors Individuals with Disabilities, Employers
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
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
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
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
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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