The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) awarded the APSE Employer Award during the 2021 Virtual Conference on Friday, June 18th, 2021.

Watch the video on Facebook LiveFacebook live.

APSE and its members emphasize the importance of collaborating with businesses to create good job matches. The success of Employment First relies on partner employers who seek to value and demonstrate the importance of an inclusive workforce by employing people with disabilities.

Congratulations to Zebra, winner of the 2021 APSE Employer Award!


Zebra Technologies, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Zebra Logo.

"Zebra Technologies has made a commitment to diversity and inclusion in their business and it is not just something that can be found on their website or in training manuals, but it is something that can be seen in action in their workplace."

Zebra has implemented a leadership development program module for their leaders, equipping them with experiences and tools to further their path in the company. Zebra Technologies Corporation partners with organizations such as TotalLink2 Community and Parents Alliance Employment Project, as well as university offices of disability to ensure they have access to candidates with disabilities at all levels. In addition, they are a corporate partner of Disability:IN and a member of The Valuable 500, a collaboration of 500 companies and leaders who have committed to putting disability inclusion on their business leadership agenda.

Nominated by TotalLink2 Community

And the nominees are...

This year, APSE is honored and humbled in recognizing the contributions of the 2021 nominees!

Nominated businesses have values consistent with APSE. Nomination materials demonstrated the business’s commitment to APSE’s view that everyone can and should work.

Deina Merschbrock
Sonny's Super Market, West Point, IA

Sonny's Super Market is not just your typical small town grocery store, they are so much more. Deina (owner and manager) took a chance on a girl straight out of high school during the most uncertain time of everyone's life, the covid pandemic. Sonny's has been so welcoming and supportive. Learning new ways to work with individuals with disabilities and being so eager to learn. I have personally brought in some examples of Person first language and Deina has made it her mission to not only make changes herself but also encourage her staff to do the same. Sonny's has welcomed in diversity and was the yes in this small community we needed. With all the connections Deina has in her small community we are slowly seeing people follow. Thank you Deina for being the change and seeing the worth in everyone!

Nominated by Iowa APSE Board of Directors as a winner of the 2020 state awards.

Deina and Sarah were part of an advocacy video completed by the Iowa DD Council. Watch Below!

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, San Diego, California

"The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has recently entered into a partnership with our nonprofit, Options For All (OFA), to recruit and employ our participants. They have gone above and beyond in helping us find positions that are a good fit for our clients. This included giving OFA staff a tour and sharing all available positions with us. When our clients apply for a position, we are allowed direct access to their HR team instead of using the online application process. This is pivotal because our clients’ resumes may be weeded out for lack of experience even when they are qualified for a job. The Zoo has also adapted and changed its onboarding process to better accommodate our clients, ensure that they receive the necessary training, and promote their success. In addition, the Zoo’s existing employees and management teams now receive specialized training on how to best work with our clients and create a more supportive and understanding environment."

Nominated by Options For All

TLC Nursing Center, Oneonta, Alabama

From The Arc of Central Alabama - Blount Division, a provider of employment supports, "TLC Nursing Center is the placement we use for references when potential new employers ask what it is like to have someone with a disability working for them. They will call TLC and the staff at TLC always have amazing things to say about our individuals with disabilities that work there."

Nominated by The Arc of Central Alabama - Blount Division

Mickey Mart Food Stores, Ohio

Mickey Mart and associates have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment through creating community inclusion and opportunities for people with disabilities. Mickey Mart not only offers an approach to community inclusivity but practices it every day by being a role model for others. They create opportunities for community inclusion and enable individuals to build social capital and live full meaning lives. They are able to form an incredible bond with staff members and customers who will often stop at locations to specifically see their favorite person working there.

Nominated by Ability Works Inc, Ohio

Wawa, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wawa has a long history of serving their communities in ways beyond selling favorite snack foods! Since 2014, The Wawa Foundation has donated over $100 million dollars to their local communities. Wawa has several partners, that help raise funds and raise awareness about different issues impacting health, hunger, and essential workers. Additionally, Wawa has partnered with local support employment agencies to help individuals with intellectual and autism spectrum disorder to find meaningful, competitive employment. In many ways, Wawa has helped pave the way for other employers to adopt similar hiring practices that look at the positives of a diverse workforce.

Nominated by Spin Employment Services

Carroll Area Child Care, Iowa

Carroll Area Child Care Center and Preschool (CACCCP) and Assistant Director Keely Fara have been an integral component to individuals interested in childcare vocations and gaining employment.

A job coach shared " Carroll Child Care and Keely has been very welcoming to me as a Job Coach. She just loves the two individuals that work at the daycare. If there are any concerns or issues with their work she addresses them right away with the individuals and she will tell me about it so I make sure and follow up on it."

Nominated by Iowa APSE Board of Directors as a winner of the 2020 state awards.

2020 APSE Employer Award Winner