National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021

NDEAM 2021 Poster

Helen Keller Services is celebrating its second nationwide, Zoom National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) event! Save the date to join our virtual event on October 13th at 2PM EST and REGISTER HERE.

This year’s NDEAM theme “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” focuses on how individuals with disabilities fuel our national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and how employers are dealing with the challenges presented by employees who experience “long-COVID” (referred to as “long-haulers” - dealing with a disability acquired from the virus).

Meet our Host and Panelists!

Dr. Richard Pimentel - HKS NDEAM Keynote Speaker

Senior Partner at Milt Wright & Associates, Inc.

Richard Pimentel headshot

Richard Pimentel is one of the leading experts in North America on practical issues in leadership, disability inclusion, disability management, overcoming barriers, crises and change in the workplace, disabled veterans employment opportunities, job retention, COVID return to work and the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act.

Richard has keynoted numerous employer conferences throughout the U.S. and Canada. Comments from one of his corporate presentations included, “Best speaker we have ever had.”

He is an exceptional communicator whose audiences praise his ability to understand and meet the needs of the customer he is presenting to. He combines information, humor, metaphor, analogy and storytelling into an informative whole that does not just present the information but really communicates it in a memorable fashion.

Richard was the co-author of the Society of Resource Management’s (SHRM) ”Making the ADA Work for You,” “What Managers and Supervisors Need to Know About the ADA” and “The Workers Compensation ADA Connection.” He has designed 15 comprehensive disability management occupational and non-occupational return to work programs for employers throughout the U.S. and Canada. With Laidlaw Bus Corporation his program saved 10 million dollars the first year.

He is the key author of the highly acclaimed and widely used Windmills Changing the Perception of Ability Training Program designed to change the attitudes and behaviors of supervisors who hire and promote employees. This internationally acclaimed program is in many of America’s largest and most prestigious government and employer organizations.

Richard is a senior partner in the firm of Milt Wright & Associates, Inc., for which he designs disability management systems, provides keynotes, training and consultation nationwide on topics as diverse as Leadership and Change in the Workplace, the Value of Diversity and Disability Inclusion, Attitudinal Change in the World of Safety and Workers Compensation. He was rated number one speaker at the national SHRM conference with 15,000 attendees.

A full length MGM motion picture of his life story “Music Within,” starring Ron Livingston, Melissa George and Michael Sheen was released in theaters throughout the country in fall 2007, and is now showing on cable channels throughout the world.

In the late spring 2018, Dr. Richard Pimentel’s Goal Cast motivational leadership 5 minute video “How to Live Your Life Your Never Imagined,” has gone viral and as of today, they have had more than 60 million viewings on social media. Watch the 5-minute video on YouTube: Goal Cast Rich Pimentel.



Kathy West-Evans - HKS NDEAM Panelist

Director of Business Relations, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR)/ National Employment Team (NET)

Photograph of Kathy West-Evans

Kathy West-Evans is a certified rehabilitation counselor who is fluent in American Sign Language. She has her MA in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science. Kathy started in the field of rehabilitation in 1978. She worked in a community agency, for the Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Region X office of the Rehabilitation Services Administration and now leads the NET at CSAVR. The NET is a cross state team of vocational rehabilitation business specialists working through a dual customer approach to develop strategies with businesses to employ and retain the talents of individuals with disabilities across the company or organization.

Kathy is a member and past chair of the Veterans Advisory Council on Rehabilitation and a former commissioner on the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. She has co-authored articles and delivered several presentations focused on the employment of people with disabilities.

Visit CSAVR’s webpage for more information.



Milt Wright - HKS NDEAM Panel Facilitator

President & Founder of Milt Wright & Associates, Inc.

Milt Wright headshot

Milt Wright is the creator and founder of Milt Wright & Associates, Inc. His philosophy in founding the company was to design and produce programs, services and products that lead to assist employers and rehabilitation professionals to increase employment and advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Disability inclusion is his life’s work. He co-produced The Windmills Changing the Perception of Disabilities curriculum which has been rewritten 5 times since 1980. The latest revision was in 2016.

For more than 37 years, under Milt’s leadership, Milt Wright & Associates, Inc. has provided consultation and produced products on Disability Management, the ADAAA, disability inclusion implementation, wounded warrior inclusion, attitude change, job creation and job retention. In 1991, Milt Wright & Associates, Inc. co-wrote the Americans with Disabilities Act products for The Society of Human Resource Management. His company has successfully trained more than 1,000,000 professionals for many public and private employers throughout the country. His trainings and presentations are consistently rated as outstanding.

Prior to starting Milt Wright & Associates, Inc., he was the executive director of ADEPT, a statewide non-profit organization placing 2,000 individuals with disabilities in employment every year.

Milt Wright is the past chair of the State Rehabilitation Council in California. He has a Master’s Degree in Social Psychology and is a graduate of the Executive Management Program, Graduate School of Business at UCLA.


Dawn Simmons and Elizabeth Vidas – HKS NDEAM Panelists

Elizabeth Vidas and Dawn Simmons

The Sunrise Family of Companies is an award winning and widely recognized as one of the most progressive companies in New York, for having an inclusive and diverse workforce. They believe everyone is “differently-abled” and provide their own unique perspective and talents to the workplace. They have partnered with Helen Keller Services to establish and facilitate a general customer service training program enabling candidates to establish a career path and/or strengthen their customer service skills.


Elizabeth Vidas

Assistant Vice President of Training and Quality Assurance at Sunrise Credit Services, Inc.

Elizabeth started with Sunrise Credit Services in January 2001 while achieving her Bachelor of Arts in Education – English, Secondary Education from Queens College. Elizabeth started as a collection coordinator on the phones contacting customers and quickly progressed to the Training Department. She is currently the AVP of Training & Quality Assurance. Elizabeth has been instrumental in the development and growth of the Sunrise in-house training and development program, as well as co-developing The Sunrise Family of Companies University classes from the ground up. Elizabeth has hands on experience with the staff, clients, hiring, training and quality assurance departments. She works closely with all of Sunrise’s clients to oversee proper training and testing on an on-going basis.


Dawn Simmons 

Vice President of Training & Quality Assurance at Sunrise Credit Services, Inc.

Dawn has 31 years of credit/collection experience. She has been employed with Sunrise Credit Services since 1991. Dawn has worked her way up through the Collection Department and in 2003 took on the role of internal auditor. . She has experience in all industries of credit and collections. Dawn holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management from Boston University. She became an ACA certified collector in 1995 and is currently the dean of The Sunrise Family of Companies University (SFCU). Dawn is a founding member of the SFCU staff and the Quality Assurance Department. Dawn is involved in every aspect of Quality Assurance, Training and Development programs at Sunrise.



Luke Mann - HKS NDEAM Panelist

Manager (University Relations and Recruiting) and Head of the Disability Resource Group at Northrop Grumman Corporation

Headshot of Luke MannBased in Baltimore, MD, Luke has been with Northrop Grumman since April of 2012.  In his current role, Luke manages the Space Sector University Relations and Recruiting (UR&R) team.  This team is strategically located across the United States, and is responsible for all intern and entry level hiring as well as the Space Intern Program.  Prior to this, Luke was a senior member of the Mission Systems Sector UR&R team responsible for managing the relationship and recruiting efforts of our company’s largest partner school.  He also serviced the MS Business Management and Human Resources functions as well as the Cyber Intelligence division.  Prior to his work in Mission Systems, Luke managed the heritage Technology Services Sector Intern Program developing and driving high level UR&R staffing strategies that align with near and long term business objectives. 

He has formally held roles as a Staff Talent Acquisition Business Partner, a University Relations Lead, and a Staffing Strategy and Operations Lead for the heritage Technical Services sector as well as Principal Talent Acquisition Business Partner for the heritage Information Systems sector where he was responsible for full-life cycle recruitment of fully cleared talent in the Cyber Solutions Division.  Before working for Northrop Grumman, Luke worked for Aerotek, Inc. as an Account Recruiting Manager and a Recruiter Lead.  In those roles, Luke was responsible for developing and facilitating recruiter training as well as managing recruiting for a few of their largest clients in Central Maryland.  As a staffing operations and strategy professional, Luke has acquired extensive knowledge in talent acquisition, strategic planning and program management as well as advanced recruiting techniques and has become a recognized leader in his field and among his peers.  Luke graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Science degree.  He is a member of several Professional Recruiting Organizations and is the current Enterprise Co-Chair of the VOICE ERG (Allies for Disability Inclusion) where he focuses on  helping Northrop Grumman foster an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities and employees who are caregivers to family members in need.  He has been successful in developing and leading staffing process change at both the sector and enterprise level.



Register here for our virtual event.