Two Organizations Honored for Commitment to Employment for People with Disabilities - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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RIC in the News

Published on November 29, 2007

Organizations Honored for Dedication to Employment for People with Disabilities

Grace Jenkins(left), president and CEO of the
National Able Network and Karen Crawford
(right), POET director accept the Henry B. Betts
Employment Advocacy Award from RIC
President and CEO, Dr. Joanne C. Smith.

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) today awarded the 11th Annual Henry B. Betts, M.D., Employment Advocacy Award to National Able Network and the Cook County President’s Office of Employment Training (POET) for their commitment to the employment of people with disabilities.

This annual award is given to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to promote employment for people with disabilities through job training, job placement or advocacy efforts.

The award is named after RIC past president, CEO and medical director, Henry B. Betts, M.D., who has made a difference in the lives of people with disabilities throughout Chicago and the world for more than 40 years.

The award was given to POET and National Able Network in recognition of their annual “Operation Access to Employment,” a job and resource fair that provides Chicago-area residents living with disabilities the opportunity to network with employers while job search counselors and area experts offer employment training information, resources, interviewing tips and resume reviews.

“It is a great honor for Cook County and The President’s Office of Employment Training (POET) to be recognized with the Henry B. Betts Employment Advocacy Award from RIC,” said Cook County Board President Todd H. Stroger. “The award represents an important recognition of the work we do with National Able Network to sponsor the annual Operation Access to Employment event. Cook County government is committed to a barrier-free environment for all of our residents and persons with disabilities. This event truly showcases the commitment and partnership of government, community and business all working together to make a difference in the lives of these people.”

National Able Network’s President and CEO, Grace Jenkins, also accepted the award. In her role, Jenkins is committed to bringing together businesses and qualified job seekers of all ages, income and skill levels, while assisting persons with disabilities, and is dedicated to improving the diversity of the company’s workforce. 

“We are honored to receive this award from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in recognition of 17 years of working alongside the Cook County President’s Office of Employment Training to educate employers on the benefits of hiring persons with disabilities and connect them with qualified job seekers at the annual Operation Access to Employment resource fair,” Jenkins said. 

POET and National Able Network together have organized and sponsored the “Operation Access to Employment” job and resource fair for the past 17 years.  The event draws more than 500 people with disabilities each year to meet with approximately 90 employers and community based organizations. 

“POET, National Able Network and RIC are committed to equal employment opportunities,” said Joanne C. Smith, M.D., president and CEO of RIC. “It is RIC’s honor to recognize the successes of these important organizations that are making a difference in the world for people with disabilities by driving workplace diversity.”

RIC Vocational Rehabilitation Services program has placed approximately 100 people with disabilities into employment opportunities in the last year. This service provides consultation, training and job placement. More than 100 area employers participate in this program and utilize these services.

Past recipients of the Henry Betts, M.D., Employment Advocacy Award include: 

  • Aon Corp. (2006)
  • McDonald’s Corporation (2005)
  • Rush University Medical Center & Rush University College of Nursing (2004)
  • Sears, Roebuck & Co. (2003)
  • Polk Bros. Foundation (2002)
  • Mayor Richard M. Daley, City of Chicago (2001)
  • Marca Bristo, President & CEO, Access Living (2000)
  • The Northern Trust Company (1999)
  • Eugene Horcher, Illinois Office of Rehabilitation Services (1998)
  • Henry B. Betts, M.D., Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (1997)

Other local businesses honored with a 2007 RIC Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Award include: 

  • Aon Corporation
  • Chicago White Metal
  • DePaul University
  • Palos Fire Protection District
  • Vehicle Production Group, LLC (Standard Taxis) Willow Springs School

About the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) was founded in 1954 with a vision to make a difference in the lives for people with disabilities.  RIC has been designated the “#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. RIC treats a range of conditions, from the complex such as stroke, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, to the more common such as arthritis, chronic pain and sports injuries.  RIC’s world-class care can be attributed in part to its innovative research, particularly in the areas of bionic medicine, robotics, neural interface, pain and outcomes.  RIC operates a 165-bed, flagship hospital in downtown Chicago, as well as a network of 30 sites of care located throughout the city and surrounding suburbs that provide day rehabilitation and outpatient services. RIC also maintains strategic alliances with other leading healthcare providers throughout the state of Illinois and north central Indiana.