The employees at Brown & Brown Insurance would like you to throw out any preconceived notions about working with people who have a developmental disability.
“You might automatically assume that, because they have a disability, that they’re unable to do the job,” says Account Executive Suzie Darst. “Out the window!” she exclaims. “Totally not the case. Not at all.”
She knows, because she’s worked with two colleagues hired through Northwest Center: Angelica, who works as an administrative assistant and manages the Brown & Brown Facebook page; and Steven, a young man with degrees in both English and Computer Science, who was hired to build the company’s website.
Facilities Manager Tracy Johnson set out to hire one person, but when Angelica and Steven came in for interviews, “We fell in love with both of them,” she says. And because both candidates needed part-time work, hiring them both worked out perfectly.
As part of the interview process, Angelica mocked up a Facebook page and Steven came up with a website design, with no input from the Brown & Brown team. “We were terribly impressed,” says Tracy. “Each one of them figured out what Brown & Brown was about.” Both incorporated a cheetah into their designs—an animal symbolic to Brown & Brown, but that no one had instructed them to use.
Great Work, Better Morale
That sense of humor and the positive attitude of both employees get them rave reviews.
“Angelica comes in every day with a smile, with a laugh, so happy to be here,” says Suzie. “She’s been really, really good for morale around here.”
“They’ve both integrated so nicely into the team,” Tracy says. “They both love contributing. Angelica says she feels so good knowing what she’s doing is helping the team and making a difference. And it really is.”
“I always wanted to have a secretary-type position,” Angelica says. “I definitely got my dream job already.”
As if on cue, Kelly shares an all-staff email that Angelica has just sent. It reads: Hello Everybody, If you want me to assist you with any project don’t hesitate to let me know :) HAPPY THURSDAY!
Kelly simply says, “I rest my case.”
Northwest Center is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. We envision a day when all people have the same opportunity to learn, work and enjoy a fulfilling life. From birth to retirement, we support people with disabilities.
This story was originally published as part of Northwest Center's 50th anniversary project: 50 Stories Worth Sharing
Northwest Center is passionate about equal rights, anti-ableism, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Thank you for reading.