ROCKVILLE, MD — Goodwill Industries International President and CEO Jim Gibbons is one of nine international recipients of a 2015 Henry Viscardi Achievement Award.
The awards are handed out each year by the New York-based Viscardi Center, a network of nonprofit organizations providing services to educate, employ and empower people with disabilities. The Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards recognize exemplary leaders within the disability community for their contributions to society.
Gibbons was awarded for his leadership with a policy platform that advocated for increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Through Gibbons’ efforts, Goodwill also supported the bipartisan agreement put forth by members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which became law in 2014. A large portion of the law focuses on transition-age youth with disabilities.
Prior to coming to Goodwill, Gibbons led the country’s largest socioeconomic and employment nonprofit program for people who are blind, the National Industries for the Blind. While there, he developed the Business Leaders Program, the first executive training program for people who are blind, which prepares them for executive jobs and provides leadership development opportunities. Participants of the high-tech/high-touch program increase their business management and leadership skills, enabling them to advance professionally and financially. More than 75 percent of participants have received at least one job promotion, and 76 percent of graduates have experienced unprecedented job advancement to management and executive ranks. In addition, Gibbons led and implemented marketing for the SKILCRAFT® brand, which features products made by people who are blind, increasing sales by 50 percent over 10 years.
Seven out of 10 people who are blind are not working today and an even bigger percentage of people with significant disabilities are unemployed. Gibbons is one who understands the adversities of people with disabilities who are attempting to achieve their dreams. Gibbons received 50 job rejection letters before getting his first employment opportunity at AT&T.
“As a person who is blind, I understand the challenges that people with disabilities face,” said Gibbons. “I also understand that disabilities do not restrict a person’s potential. I am proud to serve in a position that helps to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions all people can make to their community and to society at large.”
In announcing this year’s winners, The Viscardi Center noted that Gibbons has been instrumental in making diversity and inclusion a part of the culture at Goodwill, which employs more than 27,000 people with disabilities. Goodwill employees with disabilities serve as CEOs, attended donation center managers, donation processors, job coaches, case managers and senior management, among a host of other roles. Goodwill also works with employers to support reasonable accommodations, assistive devices and technology, and workspace adjustments that support workplace success for people with disabilities.
“Every day, people with disabilities are leaving their footprint in communities all over the world, and their work often transcends the geographical boundaries of where they live,” said John D. Kemp, president and CEO of The Viscardi Center. “This year’s award recipients are a dedicated, diverse and trend-setting group that reminds us all that our work can be far-reaching and does make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.”
The Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards are named for the founder of The Viscardi Center, Dr. Henry Viscardi Jr, who himself wore prosthetic legs. As a leading advocate for people with disabilities, Dr. Viscardi served as disability advisor to eight U.S. presidents, from Franklin Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter, and became one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities.
About Goodwill Industries International
Goodwill Industries International is a network of 164 community-based member organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 13 other countries. Goodwill is one of America’s 20 most inspiring companies (Forbes, 2014). Goodwill organizations are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that help fund skills development, job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 3,000 stores and online at shopgoodwill.com®. Goodwill also keeps textiles and other goods out of landfills. Local Goodwill organizations also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and the government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food services preparation, and document imaging and shredding. In 2014, more than 426,000 people in the United States and Canada used Goodwill’s intensive one-on-one career services to prepare for employment. In addition, more than 24 million people used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill education, training, mentoring and online learning services to strengthen their skills. To learn more, visit goodwill.org
To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at Goodwill.org, use the Goodwill Locator app at goodwill.org/apps, or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook: GoodwillIntl.