Governor’s Committee on Persons with Disabilities Announces 2021 Lex Frieden Job Award Winners | Texas Governor’s Office


October 22, 2021 | Austin, Texas | Press release

The Office of the Governor’s Committee on Disabled Persons (GCPD) today announced the recipients of the 2021 Lex Frieden Employment Awards. Named in honor of Disability Rights Champion and Texan Lex Frieden, the awards are awarded to Texans who have demonstrated a commitment to empowering their employees, coworkers and fellow Texans with disabilities. The awards coincide with Texas Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated every October in Lone Star State.

In Gov. Greg Abbott’s proclamation of 2021 Texas Disability Employment Awareness Month, he noted, “The slogan often used for Lone Star State’s business approach is” Texas is wide open for business. This openness and dedication to inclusion and diversity in business has long been a vital part of our strong economy. Not only do we need to improve the Texas workforce to better serve them. Texans with disabilities, we must also engage in employment awareness for people with disabilities to ensure that all Texans have an equal opportunity to contribute to the workforce and participate in building the Texas of tomorrow. “

Winners will be honored at the Texas HireAbility Employer Forum and Lex Frieden Employment Awards, which will be held on Thursday, October 28, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Austin with options for in-person or virtual presence. Free registration is available at:

The Employers Forum features employer panelists with strong initiatives in diversity and employment of people with disabilities and expert panelists in Legal and Human Resources who will provide their perspective on how Texas employers can create a sustainable and inclusive workplace for people with disabilities. The keynote speaker is special guest Tracy Minish, responsible for mission control operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Tracy has worked for NASA’s manned flight programs for over 35 years and has been legally blind since college. While working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Tracy has traveled the world and is a strong advocate for people with disabilities. Tracy will share her story, discuss her journey at NASA, and discuss how a culture of inclusion of people with disabilities creates better teams.

Large Employer – Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin has been recognized as one of the Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion for the sixth consecutive year. This Fort Worth-based company received the highest score on Disability: IN 2020 Disability Equality Index®, which recognizes employers for creating fair and accessible opportunities for all potential employees. Their Able & Allies business resource group continuously strives to increase access and opportunities for employees with disabilities, developing strong partnerships with allied companies that are committed to advancing inclusion and equality. of people with disabilities in their businesses in the United States and around the world. A commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace helps drive innovation at Lockheed Martin by ensuring that a range of perspectives are represented.

Average employer – Kumori Sushi & Teppanyaki
GCPD recognizes Kumori as the Average Employer of the Year 2021 (26 to 500 employees) for fostering a diverse and accessible workplace. It is the first modern Japanese restaurant with 11 establishments in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. Kumori believes everyone deserves to excel in a competitive job and treats employees like family with a firm commitment to seeing every employee succeed. Currently, over 10% of Kumori employees have a disability and work in a range of positions from cooks to HR and management staff.

Small Employer – ServiceMaster Commercial Cleaning by Legacy
GCPD recognizes Heidi Avedician, owner of ServiceMaster by Legacy, as the small employer of the year 2021 (25 employees or less). This El Paso cleaning and disinfection company boasts that 25% of its staff are people with disabilities. The positions occupied by employees with disabilities are primarily, but not exclusively, operational support roles – those without which the company could not succeed.

Non-profit organization – Endeavors Unlimited
GCPD recognizes Endeavors Unlimited. They believe everyone deserves a chance to get and keep gainful employment in a position that matches their skills and abilities. Approximately 75% of employees are disabled and Endeavors encourages all employees to grow and develop. They promote advancement by providing accessible training and learning opportunities at all levels. They have been recognized by the National Organization on Disability as a leading disability employer in 2020 and 2021 due to the organization’s focus and policies towards people with disabilities.

Entrepreneur РGr̩gory Stavinoha
The Entrepreneur’s Award is presented posthumously to Gregory Stavinoha. Mr. Stavinoha was legally blind and successfully operated a business in the Mickey Leland Federal Building in Houston Texas under the Federal Randolph Sheppard program from 1996 until his recent death in September 2021. The business included catering, catering, sale, production and sale of United States Passport Photographs. Mr. Stavinoha has been an outstanding business mentor to other aspiring entrepreneurs with disabilities wishing to achieve the same level of success.

Martha Arbuckle – Texas Section of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
In 2017, the Texas Chapter PVA recognized the shortage of accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities due to the overuse of qualifying disabled veteran (DV) license plate users by people without motor disabilities. Working with the Texas Legislature for the past four years, after numerous sessions of testimony and education of the Legislature on this matter, the 87th Legislature SB 792 was enacted by Governor Abbott, effective January 1, 2022 This law will ensure better availability of accessible parking spaces throughout the state for anyone with reduced mobility and a valid parking tag or accessible tag.

Governor’s Trophy – Kristi Avalos
The Texas Governor’s Trophy is awarded to Kristi Avalos, CEO of Accessology Too, LLC. Ms. Avalos is a longtime disability activist, starting her journey in 1977 when she worked in a children’s convalescent home. She was then hired by American Airlines to implement the Air Carrier Access Act and in 1990 she established Accessology to provide ADA compliance training and consulting services to architects, contractors, designers, building owners. , universities, municipalities, commercial lenders, lawyers and others. the nation. For more than 30 years, Ms. Avalos has provided onsite leadership and expert technical support to bring state and local governments into compliance through their legally mandated transition plans. Her entire adult life is dedicated to breaking down barriers for people with disabilities and bridging the gap between what people with disabilities need / want and what businesses or agencies can provide. As a consultant for many large projects across the country, Ms. Avalos insists on developing advisory councils comprised of people with disabilities, giving each group a voice within its own community.

About the Lex Frieden Awards:

Job awards are presented in four categories: small employer (25 employees or less), medium employer (26 to 500 employees), large employer (more than 500 employees) and non-profit employer (any size; includes government agencies). Each category serves to recognize employers in Texas who have fostered a diverse and accessible workplace and who have developed innovative ways to include people with disabilities in the workplace, going beyond the requirements of the ADA and d ‘other laws relating to workplace practices.

The Governor’s Trophy is the Governor’s Committee’s highest honor and is awarded to the person who has achieved the most success in improving the empowerment and employment of Texans with disabilities. The Governor’s Trophy recognizes the long-term commitment and outstanding effort at the community and state level to a professional or volunteer in the field of disability issues.

The Martha Arbuckle Award recognizes the most innovative local committee project and is presented in memory of Martha Arbuckle, a longtime disability advocate for Austin. The project does not necessarily have to come from a formal mayor’s committee, but from any committee, organization or collective that works together on an innovative project that helps raise awareness of disability issues or promotes inclusion in the community.

The Entrepreneurship Award is given to a living entrepreneur with a disability who has demonstrated extraordinary ingenuity and willingness to create and maintain a successful business that has created jobs, accessible services or other beneficial aspects for disabled people.

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