Starbridge is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2022 Community Awards. Please join us at Cause for Celebration, on Wednesday, October 12th to meet, congratulate, and celebrate these remarkable people!
Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities
The Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) is part of the University of Rochester and is one of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, a nationwide network with a shared vision that all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities.
SCDD began in the 1960s as a Community Diagnostic Clinic in the Department of Pediatrics in the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. In 1988, they achieved full status as a University Affiliate Program in Developmental Disabilities. SCDD has been serving the Rochester community for the last 40 years.
Over the past two decades, SCDD and Starbridge have partnered on a number of projects. Here are just a few:
LEND: SCDD is the regional home for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders program (LEND). The goal of LEND is better health for infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities. To accomplish this, program instruction is provided by faculty and by individuals with disabilities and family members. LEND Fellows develop a greater understanding of the unique strengths and challenges of developmental disabilities. Ultimately, SCDD LEND Fellows transform the way they practice healthcare to be more inclusive and responsive.
Mind the Gap: Families of children with a new diagnosis of a disability often struggle during the gap between diagnosis and connecting to services. SCDD is part of a national network of universities piloting Mind the Gap, a free coaching service that connects families with a peer navigator.
Employment: SCDD and Starbridge collaborated for the first ever disability employment summit in Rochester in October of 2018. The Employment Equity Coalition is a result of the work of summit attendees and continues to work with the community at large to increase employment and decrease poverty for individuals with disabilities.
SCDD is a leader in advocating for individuals with disabilities to lead self-determined lives and for communities to offer equal rights and access to full inclusion.
In recognition of their commitment to a world in which individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are valued, respected, and included, Starbridge is honored to recognize The Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities with a 2022 Community Champion Award.
Antwan Williams is the Director of Youth System Services at RochesterWorks!, a nonprofit providing employment and training services and administering federal workforce development funds to organizations in Monroe County. Antwan has been with RochesterWorks since 2003. In his current role, Antwan oversees Youth Navigator Services and the Summer Employment program.
Starbridge’s Project ESTEEM is one of those workforce development programs funded by RochesterWorks! to support out-of-school youth aged 17-24. The youth we serve often have a disability and may be experiencing homelessness or poverty or navigating the challenges of new parenthood. Our navigators support them to address needs, finish school, and gain and maintain employment.
Antwan is a collaborative partner in supporting our program, the navigators, and the youth. Antwan is quick to point out that he faced significant barriers, and he credits hard work and tenacity for helping him overcome obstacles.
Jenny Hutkowski, Director of Family and Youth Education, says, “Antwan’s can-do attitude, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, and well-researched answers make our partnership really special.”
Furthermore, Antwan has been a vital part of the Employment Equity Coalition since its start in June of 2019. The coalition is geared towards increasing the gainful employment of individuals with disabilities in Monroe County and the City of Rochester. Antwan has served as the Chair of the coalition since its inception and has played an enormous part in its advancement.
Antwan is passionate about disability inclusion. In a recent Op-Ed in the Rochester Business Journal, he wrote:
“The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born, their economic status, and their abilities, can attain their version of success. In a society where upward mobility is possible, too many individuals with disabilities have been excluded from this path for too long.”
Starbridge is privileged to present Antwan Williams with a 2022 Community Champion Award in recognition of his dedication to helping youth and adults with disabilities achieve success in employment.
Elisa DeJesus and Brennon Thompson
At Starbridge, we are committed to embracing the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to demonstrating those values in our work. To facilitate this effort, Starbridge turned to two consultants, Elisa DeJesus and Brennon Thompson.
Elisa is currently the Director of Health Literacy & Language Services at Ibero-American Action League. She has worked at Ibero in a variety of roles for nearly 30 years, from overseeing family services to diversity and language services. Elisa has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and is an Associate Trainer through the International Board of Certified Trainers.
Brennon has coordinated the Antiracist Curriculum Project, and consulted for Monroe County Medicaid Providers to address health disparities and reform policies to meet the cultural needs of their patients and staff. Brennon has a Masters in Urban Planning and recently started a new position as an Analyst for Fair Housing Policy & Programs at the National Association of REALTORS® in Washington DC.
Brennon and Elisa’s work with Starbridge began in 2018 on a cultural competence initiative through the Finger Lakes Performing Provider System. Our collaboration was so positive that, when we began our strategic initiative to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplace and our community, we asked Elisa and Brennon to continue our partnership.
Elisa and Brennon have engaged with all levels of management and staff, including the Board of Directors and senior leaders. They have guided us through lessons on anti-racism, implicit bias, and privilege with honesty and compassion. They provide thoughtful, individualized support to staff. With their support, we at Starbridge have developed an ongoing process and a team structure to engage in open, constructive conversations about areas that need improvement. We are committed to embedding the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything that we do and all the ways we engage in the world.
In recognition of their advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion at Starbridge and throughout our community, we are privileged to present a 2022 Community Champion Award to Elisa DeJesus and Brennon Thompson.
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