DC Metro Business Leadership Network 

Monthly Newsletter: May 2018

USBLN Rising Leader Stories

We are #DisabledandHired!

Read the stories of Rising Leaders. They are an untapped talent pool of skilled candidates with disabilities who excel at data analytics, finance, computer science, and other fields.

Through the USBLN Rising Leaders  programs, an average of 85% of Rising Leaders find employment. Here we recognize and celebrate those who are


The Rising Leadership Academy is a free two-day networking and career readiness opportunity for college students and recent graduates with disabilities. This academy takes place in conjunction with the USBLN Annual Conference, the nation’s premier business-to-business conference on disability inclusion throughout the enterprise. During the Rising Leadership Academy, students will experience cutting-edge educational sessions and exciting interactive programming with high-profile speakers. Students will also participate in numerous networking opportunities, including exclusive facilitated networking sessions that connect Rising Leaders to representatives from USBLN member companies/businesses. 

The Rising Leaders Mentoring Program is a  six-month  career mentoring opportunity to at least 200 college students and recent graduates with disabilities through linkages to business professionals from USBLN partner companies.

The Rising Leaders Mentoring Program brings together employers and college students /recent graduates with disabilities, including veterans, in a mutually beneficial way. Mentees meet and interact with business professionals in their field of study or area of interest and to whom they would not otherwise have access.

2018 GALA

October 25, 2018


Buy Tickets - Become a Sponsor

1775 Tysons Boulevard, Tysons Corner, VA

Thank you


Northrop Grumman



audioeye  Concepts - Passion, Creativity, Results


eSSENTIAL Accessibility EY Building a better working world

Gallaudet University General Dynamics

JBG Smith

Lockheed MartinNorthrop Grumman

In-Kind Sponsors

Herson Family Vineyards TCS Interpreting TCS Associates

Table of Contents

DC Metro BLN Events


Corporate and Community Leaders Employment Summit 

Expanding the Talent Pipeline for People with Disabilities 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018            9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. 

Lockheed Martin

 2121 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA 22202 


Business and Community leaders will discuss how best to partner to develop long term successful disability talent acquisition strategies. Be a part of the critical dialog!

Keynote: Rainia Washington, Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion
Lockheed Martin Corporation
EmployMate Virtual Job Coach Demonstration
Roundtable Discussions
Closing Remarks: Kia Silver Hodge, Senior Director, C5 Consulting, LLC
Lunch Sponsored by Lockheed Martin 

Registration Fee: $25.00 


The Arc Northern VirginiaSprint
Arlington Virginia


7th Annual Wounded Warrior Symposium 

Attend in person or virtually!

Hosted by:


June 27, 2018                                                           8:30 a.m.-12:00 pm.

Details Forthcoming- But register early as this program sells out quickly!


Disability Entrepreneurship Network 

NEXGEN: Transforming Disability Inclusion for Entrepreneur Success 

Powered by DC Metro BLN and Deaf Entrepreneurship Network

DEN - Deaf Entrepreneur Network             

Gallaudet University

September 20-22, 2018

Attention Aspiring Entrepreneurs! Diversity Procurement Professionals!


You are invited to attend the 2018 Disability Entrepreneurship Network Convention. All entrepreneurs, including Deaf and hard of hearing entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs with other disabilities, as well as corporate representatives involved in supplier diversity are encouraged to attend! 

For Sponsorship details or more information, contact michael@GoDEN.org         

If you work in supplier diversity or are a company owned by a person with a disability, you won't want to miss this event!  

Interested in presenting? Contact us!

Committee Co-Chairs

                   Fannie MaeThe Resource Network


Part 2: How to Ensure a Great Accessible Interview!

May 23, 2018                                                                              12:00 - 1:00 pm EST


The Sierra Group - Disability and Employment Leaders

Janet Fiore

Janet Fiore, CEO, The Sierra Group

Certified Disability Recruiter Training

Join the DC Metro BLN for the second of a two-part webinar featuring Janet Fiore, a long time friend and widely acknowledged disability subject matter expert for the next webinar in our Disability@Work Series. 

Did you Miss Part One? 

Purchase the Recorded Session: 

"How to Get More Applicants with Disabilities: Find the Hidden Obstacles in Your Recruiting Pipeline"



Level  Annual Fee  Program Registration
 Platinum  $10,000 No Program Fees 
 Diamond  $5,000 $65 
 Gold  $3,000 $65 
 Corporate  $1,500 $65 
 Non-Profit  $750 $65 
 Small Business  $750 $65 
 Individual  $200 $65 
 Individual/SHRM  $175 $65 
 Student  $50 $30 

  • Virtual Program Registration (As Available):           $45
  • Webinar Attendee:                                                   $25
  • Webinar Attendee - Member :                                 $15
  • Non-Member Program Fee:                                  $125

Not a Member? Become One Today! 

Open Membership offers 12 months of benefits and supports our mission.

DC Metro BLN Board News

In the News - Articles of Interest

Join the #ICanCDE Photo-Sharing Campaign on Social Media

The inclusive business community is a;ways looking for photos of individuals with disabilities at work. Here is your opportunity to support the effort by participating in the photo sharing effort! Read below!
Ready to “Say Cheese”? The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) is excited to announce the launch of our first ever photo-sharing effort! To help spread the message that, “At work, it’s what people CAN do that matters,” we’re inviting people with disabilities and other friends of the CDE to share photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that highlight what they CAN do at work. Just use the hashtag #ICanCDE when you post your photo.

To participate on Facebook, consider changing your profile photo to a picture for the campaign, and then add our customized photo frame. Or, you can print and hold this sign in your photo and post it to your feeds on all three platforms.

Don’t forget to make your posts accessible by describing your photos in the captions of your posts. (Twitter and Facebook also allow you to add alt-text descriptions to your images.)

We can’t wait to see your photos illustrating the many contributions of people with disabilities—all across social media and in workplaces far and wide.

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. Navigating the Road to Work.

NCWD/Youth Releases Videos on Youth Leadership & Youth-Adult Partnerships

NCWD/Youth has released two videos featuring members of the National Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT). In the video, You Can Lead Too!: Youth Perspectives on Leadership, young leaders share insights on what it means to be a leader and advocate. In the video, Developing Successful Youth-Adult Partnerships, youth and adults describe what it takes to work together as equal partners. YouthACT is a national initiative to get more youth with disabilities and their allies involved as leaders who partner with adults and organizations to improve opportunities for youth to succeed in life.  

National Disability Mentoring Coalition

NDMC National Disability Mentoring Coalition

The mission of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) is to increase the awareness, quality, and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. 

Member organizations share core values and align with the Coalition's initiatives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities.

The Coalition integrates mentoring into its own operational model to transfer historical knowledge, incorporate reverse mentoring to generate innovation, and develop new opportunities for individuals with disabilities across their lifespan.

NDMC created a Strategic Plan for 2017-2018 to identify our goals, objectives, and strategies. The plan also has a supporting Logic Model. We encourage you to read the plan by selecting the below image/link.

JAN Job Accommodation Network

Employee Accommodation Inquiry Letter

From the desk of Melanie Whetzel, M.A., Lead Consultant, Cognitive/Neurological Team

Oftentimes the accommodation process does not advance quite as quickly or as smoothly as everyone involved would like. There may be many reasons for a slower-than-desired outcome, but just how quickly should the process take place?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an employer should respond expeditiously (with speed and efficiency) to a request for reasonable accommodation. If the employer and the individual with a disability need to engage in an interactive process, this too should proceed as quickly as possible. Similarly, the employer should act promptly to provide the reasonable accommodation. Unnecessary delays can result in a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Generally speaking, employers should move on the accommodation request as soon as they receive it. They should evaluate whether the request contains the relevant information needed in order to process the request. The relevant, needed information may include documenting the disability, particularly if it is not known or obvious, and the limitations.

Documenting Disability

Under the ADA, when an employee requests an accommodation and the disability is not known or obvious, employers can require medical documentation that the disability exists. The ADA contains a specific definition of disability: an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. When documenting that an employee has a disability, medical professionals may want to use the ADA’s specific language so the information will be helpful for employers.

The first piece of information to include is the employee’s diagnosed impairment. If the employee is hesitant to provide the diagnosis, a more general statement about the medical condition may suffice, but if the employer insists on having the diagnosis it should be provided or the documentation may be considered insufficient.

The next piece of information to include when documenting disability under the ADA is information about what major life activity the impairment substantially limits. There are two categories of major life activities. The first includes, but is not limited to, caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, sleeping, walking, lifting, speaking, breathing, learning, concentrating, thinking, and working. The second category of major life activities is major bodily functions, which includes, but is not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, and reproductive functions.

Providing Accommodation Information

Under the ADA, employers are responsible for recommending and providing effective accommodations. Employers do not always know what accommodations might work so it may be helpful to provide accommodation ideas that the medical professional and employee have. In addition to accommodation ideas, this part of the medical documentation letter should include information about what limitations are causing the employee’s work-related problems and what those problems are. The goal here is to help the employer understand the problem and start exploring solutions. See the following examples to help illustrate the information most useful to the employer:

Example 1: David has epilepsy and will experience difficulty with memory and concentration at times due to medication he takes. Because his work environment is fast-paced and noisy, he would benefit from working in a space that is as free from distraction as is practical. If possible, allowing David to come in an hour early to get work done while the office is quiet would be helpful too.

Example 2: Cheyenne has a learning disability that affects her ability to read information quickly and respond in writing. Screen reading software that also highlights what is being read would allow Cheyenne to comprehend information faster and more thoroughly. Templates of common written responses could help her be more productive.

See JAN’s Practical Guidance for Medical Professionals: Providing Sufficient Medical Documentation in Support of a Patient's Accommodation Requestfor more information on documenting a disability.

Now What?

So, once the employee has submitted sufficient information along with the accommodation request what is s/he to do when the employer has not communicated back in a timely manner?

It might be helpful for the employee to submit a simple written letter of inquiry into the status of the accommodation request. This not only shows that the employee is serious about wanting to resolve the issue, but also displays a good faith effort to work with the employer. Additionally, this letter documents the employee’s efforts to co-operate with the employer in the interactive process. The following is a basic sample letter that can be adapted to fit an employee’s individual needs:

Dear (Employer),

I am writing to inquire about the status of the accommodation request I submitted on (date submitted). Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I am willing to provide you with further information, if necessary, in order to process the request and assure the accommodations are put into place quickly.

Thank you for your prompt attention.



Hopefully, the accommodation process will progress expeditiously and the needed accommodations will be put into place swiftly and efficiently. But if not, a simple letter of inquiry may be all that is needed to prompt an employer to take care of the process in a timelier manner. For more complex situations or for those that need a more individualized approach, contact JAN for a consultation.

Need Tech Talent? Think Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are on the rise due to employer demand and proven results. In June 2017 an Executive Order called for the nationwide expansion of apprenticeship programs to be led by the Department of Labor (DOL). To support these goals, the DOL-funded Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) and the DOL-funded IT apprenticeship intermediary Apprenti are partnering to build bridges between the technology industry and inclusive apprenticeships. 

Why Apprenticeships?

The tech industry is primed for apprenticeship success given the current scarcity of computer engineers. Combining classroom instruction with on-the-job training, apprenticeship programs can help companies quickly bring new and more diverse talent into the workplace. The IT apprenticeship program Apprenti has found that 94% of their tech apprentice applicants come from untapped talent pools—including people with disabilities, veterans, women, and minorities. Read more about the benefits apprenticeships offer.

Related resources

Future of Work Podcast: "Project Lifechanger" - A discussion of Cisco's inclusive hiring program, Project Lifechanger, with Pat Romzek, Executive Consultant for Cisco.

2017 PEAT Think Tank Report - Stakeholders at the 2017 PEAT Think Tank meeting identified apprenticeships as a pathway to fostering a diverse workforce.

About Apprenti

Apprenti. The Path, the plan, your career in tech.

Apprenti provides a proven, reliable pipeline for underrepresented groups such as people with disabilities, minorities, women and veterans to gain training, certification, and placement within the talent-hungry tech industry. Through our innovative selection, certification and hiring process, we are bridging the talent gap and meeting the demands of the tech industry’s growing workforce. 

Upcoming Events in the Area and Beyond 



nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar Series

Register for the nTIDE Lunch & Learn Webinar on Friday, May 4, 2018 at 12 Noon ET.

Join us for our monthly webinar detailing findings of the latest Jobs Report release, announcements from the Disability Employment field.

Employment First CoP ODEP - Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Wednesday May 16th, 2018 at 3:00pm EDT

The Employment First CoP Webinar is held the second Wednesday of each month from 3:00pm to 4:30pm Eastern Time. 


CDE to Host Twitter Chat on Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Practices

May 31, 2018                                                                1:00pm - 2:00 pm EDT

For many people, work provides not only a paycheck, but also purpose and the opportunity to live an independent, self-directed life. So when significant injury or illness occurs, workers can face difficult choices, including whether to stay at or return to work when feasible. If they leave the labor force for a period of time, they may have understandable concerns about how working will impact disability benefits and services. If they stay at or return to their previous place of employment, they—and their employers—may have legitimate questions about how to ensure a smooth process. During a Twitter chat on May 31, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET, the CDE will welcome experts from the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program and the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Job Accommodation Network to answer questions about both scenarios. To join the discussion, use #CDEChat.

Brave in the letters with people behind it.

Register as a resource fair participant for:

Brave in the Attempt: Transform

June 6, 2018

5:00-9:00 p.m.

Towson University

We are currently seeking participants to staff tables representing their organizations before and during the event.


Brave in the Attempt uses a personal story telling platform to encourage those with disabilities to serve as mentors and role models for others. This event is FREE and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served following the presentations.

Email Carrie McGraw at carrie.mcgraw@maryland.gov or 410.767.3660 by May 1st to reserve a table.  Space is limited and will be assigned as requested until filled.

Direct sales prohibited at the event.

Save the date! Tickets for the event will be available soon.


M-Enabling Summit Promoting Accessible Technologies and Environments.

M-Enabling Summit 2018

June 11-13, 2018                                                                    Washington, DC

The M-Enabling Summit Conference and Showcase is dedicated to promoting accessible and assistive technology for seniors and people with disabilities. It is an annual meeting place for all who create and contribute accessible products, services, and consumer technologies. The Summit will provide a platform for empowering technologies and focus on next-generation innovations and breakthroughs for people with disabilities.

National ADA Symposium

National ADA Symposium

June 17 - 20, 2018                                                                              Pittsburgh, PA

This ADA National Network (ADANN) conference provides the latest information on ADA regulations and guidelines, implementation strategies, and best practices. The Symposium offers a comprehensive agenda, with sessions on a wide range of ADA topics. Join us!

Mid-Atlantic ADA Center

Save the Date! 

25th Annual Mid-Atlantic ADA Update 

September 4 - 6, 2018 

Sheraton Tysons Hotel - Tysons, Virginia

  • Speakers from federal agencies including, U.S. Department of Justice, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Department of Transportation, and U.S. Access Board
  • Presentations by experts from state and local government, business, non-profit organizations and universities
  • Topical tracks on ADA issues in business, state and local government, healthcare, and corrections and law enforcement
  • Sessions on ADA and employment and general ADA issues
  • Multiple networking sessions 
  • Professional development hours available

More information: ADAupdate.org

Vendor and Sponsor Opportunities Available!

The Mid-Atlantic ADA Update offers a unique opportunity to promote your organization to our audience of architects, designers, code officials, ADA Coordinators, state and local government officials, business owners, human resource professionals, educators, service providers, and individuals with disabilities and their family members.

Contact the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center at 301 217 0124 or ADAtraining@transcen.orgfor more information. 

NEXTGEN DISABILITY INCLUSION USBLN LAS VEGAS - July 9 - 12, 2018 Annual Conference and Expo

Register Now

Registration  will go fast; you don’t want to miss out!

About Us

The DC Metro Business Leadership Network is an employer led non-profit that uses a business-to business model offering education, training programs and resources to change attitudes and address concerns of businesses so that they learn how to proactively include people with disabilities in the workforce, marketplace and supplier diversity.

Andrea Hall, Chair

DXC Technology

Dan Ellerman, Vice Chair


Brooke Thomas, Secretary

Lockheed Martin

Ellen de Bremond, Treasurer


  • Jenn Bassett, JBG SMITH 
  • Karen Cook, Gallaudet University
  • Michelle Crabtree, Hyatt 
  • Sophie Howard, General Dynamics IT
  • Misty Koper, EY
  • Charlesiah McLean, Leidos
  • Eduardo Meza-Etienne, eSSENTIAL Accessibility (Chair, Accessibility Committee)
  • Bob Vetere, Northrop Grumman 
  • Myra Wilder, Marriott International
  • Emily Yee, Deloitte

Advisory Board

  • Tom Downs, Capital One  
  • Ron Drach, Drach Consulting, LLC (Chair, Wounded Warrior Committee)
  • Donnielle DeMesme, Golden Key Group
  • Rikki Epstein, The Arc of Northern Virginia
  • Denyse Gordon, CACI
  • Tisha Herne, AudioEye
  • Karen Herson, Concepts, Inc.
  • Bryan Moseley, TCS Associates
  • Chrissone Palmer, EY
  • Rick Rogers, The Resource Network (Co-Chair DSDP Committee)
  • Carrie Schroeder, PwC
  • Jenn Sharp, KPMG
  • Kia Silver Hodge, SME-C5 Consulting, LLC
  • Sue Werber, SME -C5 Consulting, LLC (Chair, ME Committee)

CEO, Executive Director: The Honorable Katherine O. McCary, C5 Consulting, LLC

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