Kathy Martinez to Appear at Enable America Disability Employment Forum

Enable America is a non-profit organization devoted to improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. At this year's annual forum the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor, Kathy Martinez, will appear and speak.

Tampa, FL, January 14, 2010 --(PR.com)-- U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez will be the keynote speaker for Enable America’s annual Disability Employment Forum, to be held February 3 in Tampa.

Enable America is a non-profit organization devoted to empowering people with disabilities to achieve independence through employment. Its annual forum brings employers, community-based organizations, and veteran service providers together to hear from experts on the latest issues surrounding disability employment.

“Assistant Secretary Martinez is internationally recognized for her work on disability rights, and we’re honored she’s joining us next month,” said Steve LaBour, Enable America’s executive director. “Her life’s work to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities is inspirational to those who are committed to the same mission at Enable America.”

Martinez was nominated to her current post by President Obama this past March. Prior to the appointment she specialized in employment, asset building, independent living, international development, and diversity and gender issues at the World Institute on Disability (WID), where she was appointed executive director in 2005. Among her achievements, Martinez directed Proyecto Visión, WID's National Technical Assistance Center, to increase employment opportunities for Latinos with disabilities in the United States, and Access to Assets, an asset-building project to help reduce poverty among people with disabilities.

"As a Latina who is blind, I have first-person experience with the low expectations and assumptions of the majority culture," Martinez said. "I have seen many disabled Latinos live down to these diminished expectations. They become overwhelmed by isolation, are disconnected from the service-delivery system and don't have disabled Latino professionals to look up to or network with. Unfortunately, even those who do access resources often are not receiving appropriate service."

Since 2002 Enable America has been working to improve the lives of people with disabilities by opening employment opportunities. One way is through employee mentoring programs. Enable America matches mentors from local companies with mentees from the community, people with disabilities or wounded veterans who often have difficulty finding work. While the experience helps those people become more employable, there is also value to the companies.

Enable America also organizes community connection forums, designed to bring local leaders, lawmakers, employers and service providers together to learn and share success stories. These meetings are an important step in building a bridge between those with disabilities, and their community.

Another successful program launched by Enable America is VetConnect, dedicated to helping wounded warriors re-acclimate to civilian life, by pairing them with veterans who have faced similar challenges. Since 2007, more than two-hundred wounded warriors and their families have been served by VetConnect mentors across the country.

More information on Enable America and the February 3 forum can be found on the organization’s web site, EnableAmerica.org.

Enable America
Chris Jadick