LANSING, Mich. — Six Michiganders with disabilities and seven partner organizations were recognized during the 14th annual Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) Champion Awards ceremony for showing resilience and accomplishing employable skills and talents. They each personify the best of what is possible when championing a diverse and inclusive workforce.
The virtual event was part of Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, which is celebrated to encourage employers to hire qualified people with disabilities.
MRS, housed within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), collaborated with the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services to recognize employers, partners and customers.
“We are proud to celebrate and congratulate the tremendous people with disabilities whose determined efforts have led to success in the workforce and those who have strengthened and supported Michigan’s public vocational rehabilitation programs,” said LEO Director Susan Corbin. “Vocational rehabilitation plays an important role is helping us close equity gaps and assist people, businesses and communities in reaching their full potential. The work of Michigan Rehabilitation Services helps ensure all Michiganders have equal opportunities to a great job, a livable wage, and a chance to contribute to our state’s future.”
MRS staff from around the state nominated champion candidates within several categories. The awards went to the following recipients.
Customers who are motivated and committed to finding and keeping jobs:
- Ethan Idzior – Auburn
- Mancell Lyttle – Detroit
- Breyana Howell – Detroit
- Earl Dube – Shelby Township
Student Customers who are motivated and committed to finding and keeping jobs:
- Alex Kortas – Sterling Heights
- Leiah Johncock – Shelbyville
Business partners from large businesses that are working in innovative ways with MRS and its customers:
- Amphenol Borisch Technologies – Grand Rapids
- DTE Energy – Detroit
Business partners from small businesses that are working in innovative ways with MRS and its customers:
- A & F Wood – Howell
- Macro Connect – Detroit
Community partners who have demonstrated a strong commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities to take charge of their futures:
- The Simmons Advantage – West Bloomfield
- Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium – Cheboygan
Statewide Community Partner who demonstrated a strong commitment to empower individuals with disabilities to take charge of their futures:
- MDHHS / Erin Wallace – Oakland County
“What these customers, businesses and partners achieved over the last year was no small feat,” said MRS Director Tina Fullerton. “Our path towards greater diversity in the workplace starts with businesses who are willing to see the benefits of working with individuals with differing abilities. We are very proud to have worked with each of this year’s winners.”
“Building an inclusive and diverse workforce is a top priority at DTE, and partnering with Michigan Rehabilitation Services has made our journey easier,” said Alicia Harris, Employment Strategies Manager at DTE Energy, one of the Champion Award recipients. “Not only has MRS been our ‘go to’ resource for consultation and advice, but they’ve helped broaden our perspective and provided us with qualified applicants that we hired in skilled trades positions where we may have had our own blind spots about individuals with disabilities.”
“Our partnership with Michigan Rehabilitation Services has been a truly special one,” said Jillian Black, Human Resources Business Partner at Amphenol Borisch Technologies, a Champion Award honoree. “Their dedicated team has provided us with the tools, resources and support to feel confident in providing an environment where individuals with disabilities can thrive and grow. As a business, we are always working toward providing a more inclusive environment, and working with MRS has helped us to look at our own practices in order to keep moving toward that goal of inclusion.”
MRS assists persons with disabilities to find competitive employment and achieve self-sufficiency. For more information about Michigan Rehabilitation Services, visit Michigan.gov/MRS.