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Breaking Ground 94 Introduction

by Wanda Willis, Executive Director, TN Council on Developmental Disabilities

Dear Readers:

This year the Council dedicates its annual employment issue of Breaking Ground magazine to Governor Bill Haslam. It has been five years since Governor Haslam signed Executive Order No. 28 establishing Tennessee as an “Employment First” state. Since that time, Tennessee has made unprecedented advances in improving and strengthening integrated and competitive employment for Tennesseans with disabilities.

In partnership with the Council and the IDEAL Program at Lipscomb University, the Governor’s Office hosted their first intern with an intellectual disability in 2017. In the past year, the TN Departments of Education, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and Economic and Community Development have followed in their footsteps by hosting another six internships for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Council salutes Governor Haslam and his Cabinet for making employment for Tennesseans with disabilities a priority over the past eight years.

As Governor Haslam said in his last State of the State address, Tennessee still has work to do in coming years. The Council on Developmental Disabilities looks forward to continuing this important work throughout the next administration to ensure that all Tennesseans have an opportunity to thrive in competitive jobs of their choosing in their home community.

Join us in celebrating October as National Employment of People with Disabilities Month. In this issue of our amazing magazine, Breaking Ground, you’ll read articles about a new Project SEARCH internship site at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Chattanooga; young adults who receive support through the Employment and Community First CHOICES program to achieve their employment goals; how enabling technology can support people with disabilities at their jobs; the first business owner taking advantage of the expansion of the Governor’s Office of Diversity Business Enterprise (Go-DBE) to include businesses owned by entrepreneurs with disabilities; and several other employment-related stories.

As always, we love to hear from you, so let us know how you like this issue and how your community is working to address employment for Tennesseans with disabilities!