PIERRE — Gov. Kristi Noem recently presented the 2019 Governor’s Awards to South Dakota businesses and individuals who have made significant contributions to the employment of people with disabilities.
“South Dakota ranks among the top five states in the nation in employing people with disabilities,” said Noem. “We’ve come a long way, and that’s mostly due to the employers, and, most importantly, the people with disabilities who show up each and every day to give their all. My administration will continue working to create employment opportunities so folks with disabilities can remain independent in their own homes and communities.”
Noem proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month and encouraged businesses and employers across the state to promote awareness and shape disability-friendly workplaces.
Noem presented awards to the following recipients:
• Brad Konechne of Brookings encounters barriers as a result of his disability, but he has found a way to directly impact the lives of others with disabilities through his work as a benefits specialist with Black Hills Special Services Cooperative. Because of his character, personality and tenacity, Brad received the Outstanding Individual with a Disability Award.
• Carolee Bucholz of Sioux Falls was working as a full-time certified nursing assistant until a car accident changed her life. After an extensive recovery period, Bucholz started her second career at the St. Francis House and 13 years later, she continues her employment as a program coordinator. For these achievements, Bucholz was awarded the Outstanding Employee with a Disability.
• Cammack Ranch Supply of Union Center retains individuals with disabilities as part of their winning workforce, and they have been recognized as the Outstanding Private Employer (Small Employer). Under the leadership of Gary and Amy Cammack, every employee is recognized for who he or she is as a person, and what skills or assets he or she brings to the company.
• Five Star Call Centers of Sioux Falls received the Outstanding Private Employer (Large Employer). Five Star Call Centers realizes employees with disabilities are assets to their company. They are experienced at providing workplace accommodations that are specific to each employee.
• University of South Dakota/Sanford School of Medicine of Vermillion received the Outstanding Employer Award (Other). University of South Dakota/Sanford School of Medicine employs and supports numerous individuals with a variety of disabilities, and they are integrated seamlessly into the fabric of the organization. The University extends prioritized preferences in their recruitment process for civil service positions to individuals with disabilities who have been laid off from employment.
• Carolyn Schuldies of Sturgis has worked for the past 25 years providing self-advocacy instruction and training to the students of the Sturgis School District. For that reason, Schuldies has been selected as the recipient of the Outstanding Transition Services Award.
• Nancy Schlichenmayer of Pierre has over four decades of advocating and supporting individuals with disabilities. She has demonstrated a lifetime of passion and commitment in her distinguished career providing leadership that is necessary to help others be successful. For this, Schlichenmayer received the Distinguished Service Award.
• The 2019 Governor’s Awards ceremony was co-sponsored by the Board of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Board of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Statewide Independent Living Council, and the South Dakota Department of Human Services.