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Kat Cunningham receiving her award.

Recently, the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE) held its 27th Annual Conference in Cincinnati: Soaring to Employment First.

There, organizations, employers, and individuals were honored for their single-handed and collective contributions to Employment First.

This year, Moresource President Kat Cunningham, a local pioneer in Columbia’s business community, was recognized with the Small Employer Award.

This honor goes to a business that employs fewer than 29 people. ACT’s Career Services Director, Jessica Mahon, and other community partners nominated Cunningham.

13532873_1128741047168196_7315133117285303574_nIn addition to hiring employees with, as Cunningham says, “different abilities”, she is also a member of Show-Me-Careers-Columbia (SMC-Columbia), a pilot consortium for a grant-funded initiative aimed at improving outcomes for transition-aged students; Columbia Employment Consortium, a group that offers a training series on inclusive hiring practices and publishes a website for employers that provides resources for hiring people with disabilities (www.adaintheworkplace.org); and Columbia Transition Team (CTT), a group that plans and implements actions for youth in an effort to improve transition outcomes and employment. She is also co-creator of the website AbilitiesforBusiness.com that aims to link businesses with qualified candidates with disabilities.

Cunningham is also exploring options for a Business Leadership Network in Mid-Missouri. This business-led initiative would serve to further enhance the other activities occurring in our local community.

“We at Moresource know the labor shortage employers will be faced with in the future. Bridging business to a differently-abled workforce is a major priority. To receive National Recognition at the APSE conference in Cincinnati only reinforces our mission!” Cunningham says.

APSE is an organization whose mission is to advance employment and self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities through advocacy and education. ACT has been an organizational member for several years.

APSE’s Statement on Employment First reads “Employment in the general workforce is the first and preferred outcome in the provision of publicly funded services for all working age citizens with disabilities, regardless of level of disability.”

Congratulations Kat! This award is well deserved. Everyone in Columbia knows you are an asset to our community and a great advocate for people with disabilities. Now it is known on the National level!