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Starbridge is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Community Awards. Please join us at Among the Stars, on Saturday, April 6 to meet, congratulate, and celebrate these remarkable people!

2019 Community Award Winners collage


Advocacy Award – Colleen Brind'Amour

Colleen BrindAmour Advocacy award web

The Advocacy Award is given to a person who demonstrates the power of advocacy to create positive change in the lives of people who have disabilities. The 2019 recipient is Colleen Brind’Amour of the City of Rochester’s Project SEARCH® program.

In the City of Rochester, the employment rate of people with disabilities is only 25%. The rate of people with disabilities living in poverty in Rochester is 42% – 9 points higher than the rest of the population, and Rochester’s poverty rate is already staggeringly high. Unemployment and poverty are directly related, and it takes passionate, committed advocates to make a difference.

Colleen Brind’Amour is a teacher for the City of Rochester’s Project SEARCH®, an essential lifeline to students with disabilities who are transitioning out of high school and need to develop work skills so they can compete for jobs.


Read more about Colleen Brind'Amour

Colleen teaches soft skills in the classroom, navigating public transportation around the city, and job coaching at internship sites. But that’s just her official role. Nominator Kayt Davidson shares, “Colleen goes above and beyond for her students to ensure they have everything in place to be successful. Her impact reaches far and wide.”

Colleen advocated with the school district to have breakfast and lunch delivered each day to the Project site so the students get at least two healthy meals daily. She takes them for testing or medical appointments, assists families with paperwork, works with employers – you name it, she does it.

When a student’s lack of a cellphone was the only barrier to a job, Colleen found funding to obtain one. When Colleen found out this same student didn’t have a bed, she helped him get one.

The Rochester area Project SEARCH® is coordinated by Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester Medical Center. SCDD’s research shows an 83% success rate in transitioning students from high school into competitive employment.

Colleen, you are making a positive difference for our community every day, advocating for employers to embrace the value of hiring people who have disabilities and empowering young adults with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

It is our privilege to recognize Colleen Brind’Amour with the 2019 Advocacy Award.



Inclusion Award – Dr. Katrina Arndt

Katrina Arndt Inclusion award


The Inclusion Award recognizes a person’s efforts in creating inclusive opportunities for people who have disabilities. The 2019 award goes to Dr. Katrina Arndt of St. John Fisher College.

Katrina Arndt has held a variety of roles within the special education continuum, beginning as a paraprofessional and a special education teacher, first in Minneapolis and then in the Rochester area. She left teaching to pursue her Ph.D. in Special Education, and then joined St. John Fisher College’s Inclusive Education Department as a faculty member in 2005.

Dr. Arndt champions the dignity of every child in an education system that is not always accepting of students with disabilities. By teaching the next generation of teacher candidates, she contributes to a more inclusive education system. According to nominator Michael Wischnowski, Katrina “not only prompts them to reconsider their preconceived notions of students with disabilities, but also to recognize their role as either a barrier to or an important, resourceful person in a child’s learning and life.”


Read more about Katrina Arndt

Dr. Arndt has been instrumental in creating and maintaining partnerships with local school districts so that St. John Fisher education students can observe or practice lessons learned in area classrooms. She provides technical assistance and professional development to professors within Fisher and to local school teachers. Michael shares, “Katrina is the key shaper and defender of our inclusive philosophy in the School of Education, and will hold our feet to the fire when this position is not being considered thoroughly.”

Dr. Arndt and Dr. Whitney Rapp co-wrote a textbook, Teaching Everyone, to create an introductory special education textbook that doesn’t focus on deficits, but rather looks at systematic barriers in school and society, and provides positive evidence-based practices to support all students. This textbook is being used in several universities across the country.

From her work in schools in the 1990s, to her work training teachers locally and nationally, to her impact with colleagues and our community, Dr. Katrina Arndt is inspiring a world of inclusive education for generations to come.

Dr. Arndt, it is our privilege to recognize you with the 2019 Inclusion Award.


Rising Star Award – Jaymie Eden

Jaymie Eden Rising Star award web


The Rising Star Award recognizes a person’s achievements early in their career and their bright future empowering people who have disabilities. We are excited to recognize Jaymie Eden of People Inc. as our 2019 Rising Star.

Jaymie has been working at People Inc., a nonprofit agency serving people with disabilities, for one year. She moved from a career in education – primarily at the preschool level – to one in human services.

Nominator Brittany Richards writes, “Jaymie works tirelessly to help anyone with whom she comes into contact on a daily basis. She is constantly thinking of new ways to help people, innovative methods to help create independence, and meeting people where they are in their lives to help them get where they want to be.”



Read more about Jaymie Eden

Jaymie’s role connects people to services based on their mental health or disability diagnoses. Her team members appreciate the new and fresh perspective she brings, along with her positive spirit.

Brittany highlighted one particular innovative approach:

Jaymie was working with a person who needed a lot of assistance to attend medical appointments successfully because of their mental health and developmental diagnoses. The person typically had high anxiety about the appointments beforehand, and often would not leave the doctor’s office without an escort. Jaymie created visual/social story books for the person to get ready for the appointment, and provided coloring books and colored pencils to lower their anxiety while in the waiting room. With Jaymie’s support, the person was able to attend the appointment and receive the medical care needed. Jaymie identified a problem, thought about what she could do to help, and put her ideas into action.

Both in professional settings and in her personal life, Jaymie is always willing to share information about services that can help people who have mental health challenges or disabilities.

Brittany says, “She is new to the field of human services but works with individuals and families like she has been in the field for many years.”

Jaymie, it is our privilege to recognize you with the 2019 Rising Star Award.


Outstanding Community Partner Award – Stephen G. Schwarz

Stephen G Schwarz


The Outstanding Community Partner Award is given to recognize Steve Schwarz for his philanthropy and his dedicated service to our agency, all to support people with disabilities in our community.

Many years ago, Steve met Dan, a young man who has disabilities, when Steve’s law firm represented Dan and his family in a legal matter. At the time, thanks in part to Dan’s work with The Advocacy Center, Dan was living in his own home and directing his own services. Steve was inspired by both Dan’s personal success and by The Advocacy Center. Steve volunteered to join the board of The Advocacy Center in 2006.

Since that time, Steve has been a tireless supporter. He has served on multiple committees, and held both the Vice President and Board President roles. When The Advocacy Center and LDA Life and Learning Services affiliated, Steve was a driving force in navigating the complexities of both the legal and organizational challenges of merging two legacy agencies.


Read more about Steve Schwarz

Beyond his commitment of time, Steve has been generous in his financial support of our agency. Whether through writing an appeal for donations, making a donation, or securing the support of Faraci Lange and other businesses in the area, Steve is willing to ask anybody to give to a cause he believes in. And he doesn’t like taking no for an answer.

In 2015, Steve was honored at the annual Greater Rochester Awards, hosted by the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Rochester Business Journal, with a Board Leadership Award. Steve’s nomination recognized his effective leadership, fundraising, strategic planning, community collaboration and problem solving.

Starbridge President/CEO Colin Garwood had this to say:

The Board of Directors for a nonprofit organization is the “holder of the flame” for the agency’s mission. The board sets direction and works to ensure that the agency is delivering on its promise to the community and its constituencies. Steve epitomizes these principles and practices. Since Steve’s involvement on the board in 2006, his leadership and support have resulted in countless lives being improved. We so appreciate Steve’s commitment, partnership and spirit.

On behalf of Starbridge and the people we serve, we are pleased to honor Stephen G. Schwarz with the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award.