Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Honors 16 Winners of the Shining Stars of VR Awards

Employers, workers and advocacy organizations are recognized for achievements.

The Department of Labor and Employment has announced the winners of its second annual Shining Stars of VR.

The awards program was created by the Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to honor workers who are achieving their employment goals and overcoming challenges; businesses who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities; and advocates who are making a positive impact on the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Worker Awards
At the awards ceremony held yesterday at the Capitol, Brian Baker and Connie Pierson of Longmont and Jeremiah Thompson of Lakewood, Daron Hatley of Arvada, and Darren John Cullen of Littleton were presented with awards.  Every day on the job, these individuals are proving that there is no disability more powerful than the aspiration to reach one’s full potential. The winners in this category include.

Employer Awards
Littleton Sprouts, a natural and organic grocery in Littleton, Chick-fil-A in Greeley and Columbine Health Systems in Fort Collins were all honored for empowering workers with disabilities to achieve their dreams.

Advocacy Awards
Six individuals and organizations that have long championed the rights of people with disabilities were also recognized for excellence.  Winners included Amy Mann, Andrea Persson and Brian Dean, all of the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.  Also presented with awards were Diane Groff of the Center for People With Disabilities; Jonah Berger, founder of the Rhythm Within and Kehau Martinez of Mesa County Valley School District 15.

Executive Director Awards
Finally, Sumesh Tripathi and Holly Barbian, both clients of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation who have made remarkable life journeys, were presented with the Executive Director’s Award for their courage and commitment to improving their lives.

The Shining Stars awards were presented in a ceremony that was a part of Disability Employment Awareness Month.  In October, Governor John Hickenlooper issued a proclamation declaring the month as Disability Employment Awareness Month, a time to recognize the value that people with disabilities bring to Colorado’s workforce and to promote the hiring of individuals with disabilities.

“These awards are a celebration of the people and organizations that are changing the way disabilities are viewed and making Colorado businesses more disability-smart and inclusive,” says Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Sam Walker.  “The recipients of these awards remind us that our mission in the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is to forge partnerships with others that will make a real difference in real lives.”

For More Information:

Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations
Bill Thoennes at (303) 318-8004 or Cher Haavind at (303) 318-8003