Where Are the CEOs and Executive Managers with Disabilities?

A photo of John Kemp

By John D. Kemp, President and CEO of The Viscardi Center

As we prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, I cannot help but ask, how many corporate CEOs, presidents or high-level executives with disabilities easily come to mind? Although I use four prostheses and steer a large not-for-profit in the New York metro area, I can only rattle off a few CEOs with a disability. While we’re seeing broadened gender and ethnic diversity at the top of the ladder, people with disabilities are still lagging when it comes to making it to the C-suite.

The lack of individuals in leadership roles is reflective of the employment woes people with disabilities are still experiencing. While the road towards this landmark anniversary includes many accomplishments, the employment of people with disabilities continues to be an area where we’ve barely moved the needle. We’re still seeing an outrageously low labor force participation rate, the percentage of people who are working or actively looking for work, by individuals with disabilities. The February 2015 labor force participation rate for people with disabilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was 19.8 percent, compared to 68.2 percent for people without disabilities. If well-educated, qualified individuals aren’t even in the workforce, how could they possibly climb the corporate ladder, or shall I say ‘ramp’?

Let’s look at ADA25 as a means of drawing attention to this continued challenge. If you are an employer, we need your “buy in.” You hold the keys to unlocking employment opportunities at all levels for people with disabilities. There is more untapped, educated talent out there than ever before. Embrace it. Recruit and hire people with disabilities. Advance those already within your organization and diversify your thought leadership.

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Living with No Boundaries: Meet Elizabeth

A photo of Elizabeth sitting on a brick wall. The wind is blowing and she is holding her long cane.

By Stephanie Bostaph, Communications Specialist,

Sometimes you meet someone and know immediately that he or she makes the world a better place. You can’t say why, you just know. That’s how we felt when we met Elizabeth. Maybe it was her graceful presence, light-hearted sense of humor or contagious positivity. Whatever the reason, spending time with Elizabeth was uplifting.

Elizabeth wasn’t born with a disability. She lost her sight unexpectedly nearly 12 years ago during her sophomore year of college. With her dream of being a museum curator derailed, Elizabeth faced the daunting task of figuring out what to do next. She decided to major in sociology and used employment supports to land her first job. Now she works as an information specialist at New Editions Consulting, Inc., a position she learned about through networking.

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Introducing the Redesigned Ticket to Work Website

A photo of a smartphone showing the Ticket to Work website.

Guest Blog by the Ticket to Work Team

The Ticket to Work program recently launched a redesigned beneficiary website at The website is part of Social Security’s efforts to help people with disabilities who want to work find and keep a job to reduce or eliminate their need for cash benefits. is the place to start to learn about the Ticket to Work program, which provides free employment support services to Social Security disability beneficiaries who want to work. The site has an improved layout and is easier to use. It also offers more information to support you or someone you know on the journey to financial independence. Visit the site to take advantage of these new features: Read More about Introducing the Redesigned Ticket to Work Website


Building a Workforce That Reflects the People We Serve

Photo of Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

By Guest Blogger Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Four years ago, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order (E.O.) stressing the importance of hiring people with disabilities in the federal government. He set a goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities. I am proud to say that we are more than halfway toward reaching that milestone.

The Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) latest report on the employment of people with disabilities shows that the federal government has hired people with disabilities at a higher rate than at any time in the past 33 years. In fiscal year 2013, 18 percent of new federal hires were people with disabilities, a 1.9 percent increase over fiscal year 2012. In the first three years of enacting the E.O., we have hired a total of 57,491 permanent employees with disabilities. Because of the hard work and dedication of federal employees and the disability community, we have made outstanding progress toward meeting the President’s goal.

But the E.O. on hiring people with disabilities is one of many initiatives aimed at building a workforce that reflects the bright mosaic of the American people we serve. It is strengthened by President Obama’s efforts to increase the number of veterans serving in the federal government. It is bolstered by the President’s POWER Initiative, which ensures reemployment of people injured in the workplace. And it is a critical component of OPM’s new Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Roadmap, which reflects our commitment to the People and Culture pillar of the President’s Management Agenda.

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