ICAN, Massachusetts Advocates for Children

A partnership between Work Without Limits and Massachusetts Advocates for Children, the Institute for Careers and Networking (ICAN) is designed to introduce high school students with disabilities to a wide range of companies with opportunities for jobs and/or internships. Students attend approximately 5-7 sessions hosted by businesses in the local area to learn about different industries, occupations, and work environments. While not a guarantee, the goal is for the participating companies to either hire qualified students or graduates into paid internships or jobs depending on the interests, skills, and preferences of the individual. Work Without Limits was pleased to partner with the Massachusetts Advocates for Children on the development of ICAN. Work Without Limits would be excited to bring this program to interested school districts via contract or through a grant collaboration.




Contact Kathy Muhr, Director of Community Engagement for more information.

Somerville ICAN:

Group of students, employers, facilitators and teachers at Partners Healthcare posing with certificates at graduations ceremony

A graduation was held on January 4th for 20 students from Somerville High School and Full Circle as participants of the Somerville ICAN (Institute for Careers and Networking) program, a collaboration of Massachusetts Advocates for Children and UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits.

The ICAN program introduces students with disabilities to a range of companies who are all committed to including people with disabilities in their workplaces. Participants learned about different industries, occupations, and work environments. In addition, the program offers students the opportunity to make professional contacts at participating companies that they can leverage as they transition from school to career.

Throughout the fall, Somerville ICAN participants had an opportunity to visit 5 exciting companies representing different industries; Cambridge Health Alliance; CVS Health; PwC; Vinfen; and Partners HealthCare.  Students were able to see first-hand what it is like to work at large corporations, a hospital and a non-profit agency. This was a great opportunity to get a feel of the various career paths that lay ahead of them.  While visiting the companies, students took part in a number of activities that included a company tour, learned about current hiring practices, job and internship opportunities, and the technical and soft skills needed for success.

Though not a guarantee, it is a goal of the participating companies to either hire qualified students or graduates into paid internships or jobs depending on the interest, sills, and preferences of the individual.

Work Without Limits Administrative Employment Network: Building Capacity Where it is Needed Most

Employment can enrich the lives of people with disabilities by providing better financial security, and more fulfilling personal and social experiences. The Social Security Administration (SSA) understands this and knows that many people with disabilities who are seeking employment face unique barriers. To reduce some of these barriers, Social Security created the free and voluntaryTicket to Work (TTW) program that provides supports for individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits based on their specific needs and employment goals, as well as payments to organizations or employers who are assisting or employing them.

The SSA TTW program:

  • Assists job seekers with disabilities to access services they may need to obtain or retain employment such as job coaching, counseling, training and placement as well as benefits counseling and other employment supports through SSA-approved employment service providers called ‘Employment Networks’ (ENs)
  • Provides job seekers with disabilities financial supports called ‘work incentives’ that allow individuals to earn more (up to certain income levels), receive public benefits longer (e.g. Medicare and Medicaid) and, if needed, reinstate their benefits quicker
  • Provides participating ENs such as community-based vocational rehabilitation providers, One-Stop Career Centers, and employers of individuals with disabilities ‘outcome payments’ as individuals achieve earning milestones from working

Individuals with disabilities often receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in the form of monthly payments from Social Security.  Individuals between the ages of 18-64 who receive SSDI or SSI benefits are automatically eligible to participate in the TTW program. Under this program, individuals can connect with (“assign their ticket to”) an approved employment service provider (EN) of their choice. However, Social Security’s rules about working while receiving benefits are complex and often result in confusion, frustration and multiple questions around how working can and will impact public benefits.

One of the challenges for ENs under the TTW program is understanding the work rules and complexities of Social Security’s disability benefit programs. Another challenge for ENs is the significant amount of administrative resources it takes to manage and implement the TTW program, including but not limited to requesting and tracking payments from SSA. Many employment service providers and employers do not have the time, capacity or expertise to operate successfully as an EN, therefore, have decided not to participate in the program at all. As a result, they forego the SSA outcome payments that they could be drawing down through the program for the work they are already doing supporting and/or hiring individuals with disabilities. This is where Work Without Limits comes in!

Work Without Limits builds the capacity of employment service providers and employers to help advance the employment of people with disabilities. We fill niche needs that are not being filled by any other entity. In 2014, Work Without Limits recognized the educational and administrative challenges associated with the TTW program and created the Work Without Limits Administrative Employment Network (WWL AEN).

Here’s how it works …

For employment service providers, One-Stop Career Centers and employers

Through a simple Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), employment service providers, One Stop Career Centers, and employers can become partners in the WWL AEN. WWL AEN partners do what they have always done and continue to do, i.e., employ people with disabilities or support them to obtain and retain employment. With our technical assistance, our partners also identify and refer individuals to us that meet the specific criteria for the TTW program. What does WWL do? We manage all the technical and administrative aspects of the program up to and including drawing down payments from Social Security, which we then share with our AEN partners! We provide free:

  • Comprehensive administrative support including verifying and enrolling eligible individuals with disabilities into the program, generating outcome payments, and all other requirements of the TTW program
  • Expert, technical assistance and staff education regarding the WWL AEN referral process
  • Expert, technical assistance and staff education regarding the impact of working on public benefits
  • Ongoing support to eligible employees with disabilities, enhancing an employer’s overall benefits package and disability inclusive messaging

Our growing list of partnering organizations include:

Alternatives Unlimited

Bay Cove, Inc.

The Bridge of Central Massachusetts

Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Community Health Link

Franklin Hampshire Career Center

Genesis Club, Inc.

Riverside Community Care

The Transformation Center

Triangle, Inc.


Viability (Formerly Community Enterprises and Human Resources Unlimited)

To learn more about becoming a partner of the WWL AEN or making a referral, contact Peter Travisano, WWL AEN Program Manager.

For individual with disabilities eligible for the TTW program

The WWL AEN provides each person who enrolls in our AEN with long-term and intensive benefits counseling.  We work with individuals every step of the way as they transition from being on public benefits to fully relying on income from work, which is the goal of the Ticket to Work program! The WWL AEN specializes in navigating the Social Security system, answering the complex questions that arise, and more!

For individuals, the WWL AEN provides free:

  • Personalized, detailed, and long-term benefits counseling related to Social Security, health care benefits (Medicare and Medicaid), housing, SNAP and other public benefits before, during and after the transition to employment
  • Creation of an Individualized Work Plan (IWP), an agreement regarding individual employment goals and the supports needed to attain those goals
  • Social Security advocacy and support

For information regarding “assigning your ticket” (making a self-referral) to the WWL AEN, contact Barbara Lee, WWL AEN Intake Coordinator.

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and Partners HealthCare: Promoting and Sustaining Disability Inclusion Through Training

Partners Healthcare and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network have always been proudly committed to disability inclusion. We’ve demonstrated this though our active participation in programs such as Project SEARCH, our partnership with the MA Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), our membership in the MA Business Leadership Network (MABLN) and our service with numerous disability employment organizations. Increasing the employment rate for individuals with disabilities across our organization is a valued goal to help us mirror the patients we serve as well as to drive innovation for future patients and the community. To help us sustain and further develop our existing efforts, we were excited to offer a three-part Disability Inclusion training series specifically for our Partners Continuing Care (PCC) Human Resources and Partners HealthCare Talent Acquisition teams. Provided as part of our ‘Campus to Careers’ partnership through the National Organization on Disability and Work Without Limits, this training strengthened our employees’ knowledge and confidence around inclusion for people with disabilities at work.

Delivered in one-hour sessions, the participants learned through discussion, interactive exercises, demonstrations and case studies. The fast-paced variety of content and learning styles kept our interest and provided opportunities to practice a sometimes intimidating and what could be high-stakes topic, in a safe and supportive environment.  The areas of Disability Sensitivity, Disability Etiquette and Interviewing Candidates with Disabilities provided a toolkit of resources and hands-on experiences to develop skills and confidence for our teams.

A very encouraging and unanticipated development happened at the end of the first training when the Vice President of Human Resources for PCC inquired about offering this exact series to the full complement of managers and leaders throughout his organization.  Before the conclusion of the initial hour he had seen the value for himself, his team and for the system.

Bonnie Rivers from Work Without Limits was our lead trainer and did a great job of presenting the material in a friendly and instructive manner.  As a supplement to the course content, she provided insights, anecdotes and coaching on various hypothetical situations. Throughout the experience, the participants felt supported and comfortable to ask questions in an open and non-judgmental environment.

Feedback from our participants was consistently positive with 100% indicating all 3 trainings “met my needs” and “would recommend to my coworkers”, emphasizing how much the team was learning and how helpful the informative and material was.  We feel empowered by what we now know, are better prepared to provide comprehensive service to employees of all abilities and look forward to our managers engaging in the same experience!

Contact WWL to explore training and/or consulting options that best fit your organization’s disabilty inclusion goals!

Reflection on Ten Years at Eversource

On May 12, 2018, I celebrated my ten-year anniversary at Eversource Energy. These years have been filled with learning, increasing my skills, and giving 100% to each job I am assigned. I am a senior customer service representative who utilizes Braille and text-to-speech technology to provide thorough assistance by phone and e-mail to colleagues and customers. By answering coworker’s questions about the adaptive methods I use, I strive to break down barriers, and make the workplace inclusive for everyone.

In the Eversource residential contact center, representatives handle three call types: moving, billing, and emergency. When I was hired, Eversource implemented the JAWS (Job Access with Speech) program and scripted it to translate the database screens used for moving calls. Typically, moving calls is not overly complex as it usually entails just cancelling service for a person leaving an address, or establishing service for a new resident. I realized moving calls could be monotonous, and requested that the database be programmed for billing calls. These calls are more involved as customers question their bills, and seek suggestions for lowering energy consumption. After feeling comfortable with billing scenarios, I asked to be trained on emergency calls. These calls are potentially life threatening as people could be reporting a gas leak, or a person could be trapped in a vehicle with wires resting on it. Each call is different which makes the workday pass quickly.

In 2017, the residential call center sought to hire a senior customer service representative. To be qualified, a person must be in the call center for three years, and must pass a stringent written/oral exam. I applied, worked collaboratively with management and human resources to make the study materials accessible, and began feverishly studying. When delivering the oral presentation, I used Braille notes, and ensured my notes corresponded with the slide on the screen. Fortunately, I passed the exams, and earned the position. As a senior customer service representative, I am now able to provide one-on-one training to other representatives, and handle escalated customer calls, which the original representative couldn’t resolve.

I am grateful Eversource chose to hire me in 2008.  Their willingness to make software accessible, and openness to my opinions when I’m challenged accessing a program, are traits which I appreciate. According to a 2016 study by Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, people with disabilities are more likely to stay with a company, and frequently have lower absenteeism than employees who are not disabled. This same study indicates that employees with disabilities bring a unique perspective, and increase the diversity of a work place. I hope my commitment to diversity, and my overall career at Eversource continues for a long time to come.

Eastern Bank Success Story: How Coordinating Disability Mentoring Day Educated Me

Although the weather was rainy and dreary the day of Friday, April 27thEastern Bank was full of sunshine and admiration. Friday, April 27, 2018 was Disability Mentorship Day (DMD) at the bank, a Work Without Limits initiative I had been coordinating along with my co-worker Chrissie Stevens. DMD is a large-scale national effort sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) for students and job-seekers with disabilities. I am new at the bank and this was my first time coordinating DMD and I did not know what to expect, but I was so pleasantly surprised!

The day began with Chrissie and I greeting our two mentees in the lobby of our Lynn office and introducing ourselves. Chrissie works in Human Resources and I work in the Operations Division. The mentees spent the day shadowing the Operations Division and meeting leading managers in Human Resources. Being the assistant to the Director of Operations, I stayed with the mentees throughout the day to guide them to the multiple departments and introduce them to their mentors. The mentees went through 8 departments, where each mentor explained the functions of their department and their impact on the overall production of the bank. Throughout the day, the mentees were engaged and asked insightful questions. It was impressive to witness the mentees connecting all of our various departments to one another, and taking what they learned from one mentor and applying it to the department they just shadowed.

From breakfast to learning about loans to lunch to International Operations, I saw our mentees as the striving young professionals they truly are, not just individuals with a disability. Throughout the day, we discovered that the three of us had many similar interests. Personally, we shared a love for Italian food and Mary Poppins. Professionally, we bonded over administration and finance.

Although the day was intended to benefit for the mentees by providing education and networking opportunities, I felt like I was the one gaining and learning! Individuals with disabilities are capable of so much more than sometimes society credits them for. I am so thankful to have been educated by this program brought forth by Work Without Limits, but most importantly, our two mentees. Thank you for opening my eyes and all of those within the Operations Division and more at Eastern Bank. It was truly one of the most rewarding days of my professional career.

John Hancock: ‘Disability Mentoring Day participants reflect on the experience’

Article originally posted by John Hancock

John Hancock participated in the 3rd Annual Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) on April 27, hosting students and job seekers with disabilities for hands-on career exploration and mentoring opportunities.

DMD is a large-scale national effort sponsored by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to promote career development for young professionals with disabilities. For the third year, Work Without Limits (WWL), an initiative out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, is partnering with AAPD to bring DMD to Massachusetts.

“Disability Mentoring Day provides a great opportunity for John Hancock to gain expose to a pipeline of talent,” says Sofia Teixeira, head of diversity and inclusion for John Hancock. “This is a great way for our employees to connect with talent in a new and different way. Through job shadowing, we can build awareness of our brand and of the opportunities for employment here. This is beyond volunteering –is it truly a way for us to build inclusion in our workplace.”

The experience is mutually beneficial for both mentors and mentees, leading to personal growth, career development and the chance to learn from someone they may not have crossed paths with in their daily lives. But don’t take our word for it –let’s hear from them about their DMD experience!

Ruta Assefa and Brien Marsh standing together in front of Boston skyline

Mentor: Ruta Assefa

Mentee: Brien Marsh

Why did you sign up to participate in DMD and what did you gain from your experience?

Ruta: I was a mentee in the program three years ago and now I am working at John Hancock, so I participated as a mentor this year to help give someone else the same opportunity I received. I am hoping that by sharing my skillset and experience with Brien, it will help him succeed in his career.

Mentee: I wanted to try something new and expand my horizons.

What was your favorite part of the day?

Ruta: Brien has been very engaged throughout the day, asking a lot of questions about my job and what I do. It’s really great to see him so excited to learn.

Brien: Ruta is a great mentor, so my favorite part of today is learning all I can from her.

Eileen and Will standing together at John Hancock

Mentor: Eileen Labella

Mentee: Will Stenzel

Why did you sign up to participate in DMD and what did you gain from your experience?

Eileen: I really enjoy volunteering and helping others, so this seemed like a great opportunity to not only do that, but also share my professional skills with someone just starting out in their career.

Will: I thought that DMD would be a unique chance for me to learn about the corporate environment and culture –and it has been!

What was your favorite part of the day?

Eileen: Meeting all the mentees and mentors from other areas of John Hancock and learning about their interests both professionally and personally.

Will: At lunch we got to meet not only other DMD participants, but also other people from John Hancock who provided us with some tips and advice when it comes to resume building and interviewing. It was great to network and meet people from across the company.

Maria and Mario standing together at John Hancock

Mentor: Maria Paula Martinez

Mentee: Mario Marquez

Why did you sign up to participate in DMD and what did you gain from your experience?

Maria: I really enjoy volunteering and helping others, so this seemed like a great opportunity to not only do that, but also share my professional skills with someone just starting out in their career.

Mario: I thought that DMD would be a unique chance for me to learn about the corporate environment and culture –and it has been!

Terry, Emily, Selamani and Ben standing in front of John Hancock logo

Mentors: Emily Kim Ae Sun Hunter, Ben Khemmich, Terry Reagan

Mentee: Selamani Ngaruko

Why did you sign up to participate in DMD and what did you gain from your experience?

Ben: This was truly an opportunity to be supportive and engage members of the community to help with inclusion, diversity, and employment equality.

Terry: My favorite part was seeing the excitement in Selamani’s eyes at being given an opportunity to see what we at John Hancock do to delight our customers. It wasan honor meeting Selamani! I hope he keeps in touch, as I sent him an invite on LinkedIn. Also, he is a brilliant young man who will likely never stop learning and helping others. I told him to always remain unflinchingly committed to following his dreams and aspirations, and to always bring his true self to wherever he goes.

Selamani: I now have a much better appreciation for the call center because of my exposure to what goes on behind the scenes. It was eye-opening to the entire customer experience, and the employees’ knowledge humbled me. Also seeing how representatives navigate their systems while interacting with the callers was simply amazing.

What was your favorite part of the day?              

Emily: My favorite part was lunch time. Not just because my stomach was growling and I really wanted a sandwich, but because Selamani had grown comfortable with me and we were able to talk about his love of soccer, his experience having been born in West Africa and his thoughts on the peace treaty between South and North Korea. We dined with some other managers from Life and Long- Term Care so that Selamani could network and hear their experiences. The day was a success and I was honored to host Selamani.

Ben: My favorite part of the day was meeting and getting to know Selamani! He is absolutely delightful and a pleasure to talk to! Terry: My takeaway from the experience is twofold. One, plans don’t always go as planned, so you have to be flexible and go with the best plan. Two, there is tremendous joy in volunteering, and I always get back lightyears more than I give.

Selamani: Other than hanging out with my mentors, I enjoyed seeing Pindrop in action, and how involved the Call Center is when it comes to protecting customer information. I also loved attending the live training session and seeing the new employees doing a live mock call.

Resumes Wanted!

Jobs Without Limits (JWL) is a free online job board that was developed by Work Without Limitsto help connect qualified job seekers with disabilities to leading disability inclusive companies that are Sponsors of Work Without Limits and therefore committed to diversifying their workforces. Launched in the summer of 2015, JWL was beta tested by job seekers with disabilities, whose feedback was used to enhance the ease of use, navigability, and function of the job board. Though it is always a work in progress and we continually enhance the functionality to best meet the needs for both candidates and employers, JWL offers candidates with disabilities a safe place to self-identify and disability-inclusive employers to actively seek diverse candidates.

As a large part of my role at Work Without Limits, I manage the Job Board. I am always available during regular business hours, 8am-4pm Monday through Friday, and/or by email after hours for any questions job seekers or employers may have. To see the growth, response and employment success for both candidates and employers has been very rewarding for me. Please contact me at any time.

At present, Jobs Without Limits has over 4,000 currently available jobs postings from over 30leading disability inclusive employers throughout Massachusetts that represent a wide range of industries and occupations including accounting, education, finance, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, retail, and retail banking.  Jobs are automatically “scraped” from employer databases to ensure they are accurate and current. Opportunities range from entry to professional level as well as internship opportunities. Over 200 candidates are currently seeking opportunities on the Job Board – approximately 50 have college degrees, 20 have Masters degrees and over 40have 10+ years of experience. There are jobs for every education and experience level, so get those resumes posted and become an Employer Sponsor to gain access to this talent pool!

Jobs Without Limits has many features for both job seekers and employers. These features include banner ads to highlight local disability service organizations, internship opportunities, hot jobs, and local disability and diversity related events. An employer page lists all the employers on the site, and provides information about each company. A community partner page lists and describes the different organizations, including state and private agencies as well as educational institutions with which Work Without Limits partners to source qualified job candidates.

Sponsoring employers have unlimited posting capability. They can search the candidate database, run reports of candidates (including targeted reports of those candidates that have specifically clicked through to their job postings), manually add job postings and at certain levels of sponsorship, they can tag specific postings as “hot jobs” to come up first in a candidate’s search.  A similar dashboard feature for jobseekers allows users to upload resumes to the searchable database, edit their profile, and run reports of job postings they’re interested in.

We recognize that job seeking and hiring is not typically a quick process, but we do our best to keep the conversation going – and even get it started – between potential candidates and employers. Upon request, a unique service I provide to individuals who apply for a job via the job board is to send a personalized email introduction to the employer. We have deep relationships with our Employer Sponsors and providing this “warm handoff” is very beneficial to both parties! Additionally, to keep job seekers and providers informed, each month I create an e-newsletter that provides job search tips, informative articles, highlights of hot jobs and internships, and lists local disability and diversity events.

If you are a job seeker with disabilities or an employer seeking a talented candidate and you haven’t checked out Jobs Without Limits yet, go take a look around, sign up, or contact us for more information! You might just find the candidate, or employer you have been looking for!

Visit JobsWithoutLimits today!

  • Individuals with disabilities –  Click here to register for JWL, upload your resume, and be considered for thousands of jobs being offered by our disability inclusive Employer Sponsors
  • Providers and Higher Education Institutions – Contact Us to learn how to become a WWL Community Partner and be featured on JWL
  • Employers – Sponsor WWL to become a member of the MABLN and gain access to the talented pool of candidates on JWL

The Empowered Woman

Everywhere I turn these days, I encounter a new focus on the empowered woman. There is one notable area within this subject that is sometimes overlooked. That is the independence, empowerment and relevance of the woman with a disability.

Woman looking through colorful clothing

Disability issues came to the forefront when our country took the lead with the American with Disabilities Act. Now corporations of all sizes are mobilizing to accommodate and hire people with various disabilities – seeking to bring the rate of hire equal to that of the general population. There is still work to be done, but Work Without Limits Sponsors and Massachusetts Business Leadership Network (MABLN) members are perfect examples of these types of disability inclusive employers.

Woman with physical difference painting nails

Women and girls of all ages may face barriers to equality, but women with disabilities can be more vulnerable and further marginalized. As a result, they often face greater barriers to both social and professional opportunities. As I have watched women with disabilities navigate these barriers, I have learned a lot from them throughout my life’s journey.

Woman listening to speaker on phone

I have appreciated their optimism and goal setting and learned from their self-confidence and security with body image. I have been emboldened by their aggressiveness in job seeking and the demand for inclusiveness. Their push to learn and be educated, to have families and jobs and growing responsibilities, to participate in sports, and command a presence excites and motivates me!

Woman sitting in chair sewing

Whether she has spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, Down syndrome or depression, women with disabilities are having children, working, playing active sports, and participating as proud leaders in their communities.

Two women on computer

Women with disabilities wear trendy clothes, obtain doctorate degrees, party with friends, water ski, and jump out of airplanes. Women with disabilities multitask, drive cars, invent, use technology and lead companies.

Woman with a disability sitting in gym with friend, smiling

Disability Images works only with real people who have authentic disabilities. We demonstrate a positive, engaged lifestyle that shows women, and men, who are strong in mind, body and soul.  I continue to be energized by all the people I meet, but especially by women with disabilities.

Woman with disability looking at book with husband

Disability Images logo

For empowering images of women and others with disabilties, visit here:

Visit Here

For empowering videos of women with disabilities, watch here on Work Without Limits’ Facebook:

Bo Tanner sitting in front of a pool

Bo Tanner:

Visit Here

Stephanie Major sitting in front of computer in cube

Stephanie Major:

Visit Here

Sue Maloney smiling in her shop

Sue Maloney:

Visit Here

Improving Health Care for People with Disabilities through Research and Education

In this video testimony, Dr. Linda Long-Bellil, Assistant Professor for the Center for Health Policy and Research at UMass Medical School and a member of the Work Without Limits training team, highlights her experience researching reproductive health for women with physical disabilities and teaching healthcare professionals how to provide quality healthcare to people with disabilities.

Watch her entire testimony here:


If you’re interested in learning more
about Dr. Linda Long-Bellil’s work visit here

Massachusetts Business Leadership Network attends Disability Inclusion Summit and Celebration

In 2010, Work Without Limits (WWL) created the Business to Business (B2B) Network to provide information and resources to employers interested in successfully employing people with disabilities. In 2014, the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) recognized the significant impact WWL was making in the disability employment space and invited WWL and the B2B Network to become the official MA affiliate of the USBLN, known as the Massachusetts Business Leadership Network (MABLN). Membership in the MABLN is a very important and valuable benefit of all employers’ sponsorship of WWL.

Photos By Jessica Lappin of Jessica Lappin Design

The MABLN is vital in maintaining contact among WWL sponsors in support of our collective goal of increasing the employment of people with disabilities so that it is equal to those without disabilities. MABLN members are private and public sector employers that are committed to diversity and inclusion, specifically the inclusion of persons with disabilities in their companies as employees, customers, and suppliers.

WWL facilitates regular MABLN meetings and webinars for members to share leading best practices to attract, recruit and retain employees with disabilities, market to and service customers with disabilities, include disability-owned businesses in company supply chains, and more. Semi-annually, in April and September, the MABLN meets in-person at one of our gracious host companies to continue the conversation around disability employment and to connect personally and expand professional networks.

Photos By Jessica Lappin of Jessica Lappin Design

This month’s meeting was hosted by MABLN member Laura Stout, Director of Contract Operations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA). Stephanie Browne, BCBSMA Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Diversity & Inclusion opened the meeting with a warm welcome saying, “We are excited to host today’s MABLN meeting and have the USBLN, a leading advocate for disability communities, with us. We have been partnering with Work Without Limits through our Empowering Abilities ERG led by Laura Stout, Pat Vogt, Ted Burke and Lee Steingisser, for many years. Through that relationship, we have helped to drive a culture that is inclusive and supportive of all associates regardless of their abilities here at Blue Cross. Specifically, our partnership has helped progress our 4C’s (career, culture, community, commerce) diversity & inclusion strategy that connects the work we do in D&I to our company’s organizational business goals and objectives.”

Photos By Jessica Lappin of Jessica Lappin Design

The meeting began with recognizing WWL’s 5 Year Sponsors for their dedication to WWL and the MABLN and especially their commitment to recruiting, hiring, and retaining people with disabilities in the workforce. Thank you to BCBSMA, Eastern Bank, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, John Hancock, MAPFRE Insurance, MIT Sloan Executive Education, National Grid, State Street, TD Bank, TJX Companies, and University of Massachusetts Medical School. It is amazing the growth these companies have made around disability inclusion in the workforce in just 5 short years.

We were incredibly honored to welcome Becky Curran from the USBLN as our keynote speaker. Becky touched on her personal story as a person with physical differences struggling to find employment. She also spoke about the Disability Equality Index (DEI); the USBLN’s annual disability inclusion benchmarking tool. MABLN members were captivated as Becky overviewed the DEI’s results – areas companies are excelling at in terms of disability inclusion, areas that are showing improvement, and areas that are in need of significant improvement. Becky also spoke about the Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP), which is the leading third-party certifier of disability owned businesses (DOBEs) and a way in which employers in the network can become more actively engaged in expanding their disability supplier involvement and footprint.

Photos By Jessica Lappin of Jessica Lappin Design

Laura Stout of BCBSMA led panelists John Morrell of TD Bank, Carrie Mota of MAPFRE Insuranceand Colleen Moran of Spaulding Rehabilitation Network in a discussion highlighting the importance of providing disability inclusion training to all levels of employees as a best practice. Training themes these companies have offered include general and broad reaching topics such as disability awareness and etiquette. Other, more targeted audience trainings have included interviewing and conducting performance discussions with individuals with disabilities. All of the panelists reinforced how valuable employee training is at all levels to fight stigma, raise awareness, and effect inclusive change as part of an overall diversity strategy. This panel inspired many great ideas to deeper inclusion for people with disabilities in the workplace that reached beyond training. Educational sustainability such as implementing disability employee resource groups, reviewing job descriptions for inclusive language and skill based behavior, and including disability inclusion as part of new employee orientation programs was a key part of the discussion.

Photos By Jessica Lappin of Jessica Lappin Design

We are very grateful for all our sponsors and we are excited about what the future holds as employment rates among people with disabilities continues to climb!


In order to achieve your company’s
diversity goals like any of those
listed above, please contact us
to become a member of the MABLN.