Cecil will be the first to admit – her colleagues at Davis Wright Tremaine
firm spoil her a bit.
threw me a Harry Potter-themed birthday party," she said. "They know I love
Harry Potter. They also know I love purple."
thinks of her new employers as family. The firm appreciates the hard work,
sunny personality and upbeat attitude that Susan brings to a high-energy,
sometimes stressful work environment.
Robertson, manager of the support services team for the Portland office of
Davis Wright Tremaine, knew that the firm's Belleview, Wash. office employed a
person with a disability. She contacted the Washington Initiative for Supported
Employment (WISE) and
asked about the process of hiring an employee that experiences a disability.
WISE is contracted with the Oregon Department of Human Services' Employment
First initiative to deliver training and technical assistance to providers
transforming from sheltered and facility-based employment to community-based
job services. WISE put Heather in contact with Albertina Kerr, a recipient of a
DHS transformation grant. Albertina Kerr then brought forward three candidates
for the firm to interview.
said they were impressed at how smoothly the process went.
really liked that WISE and Albertina Kerr came in and took the time to learn
what our needs were and really get a good understanding of what the position is
and what the culture is here before they brought us candidates," she said. "It
really instilled a lot of confidence for us."
all three candidates had strengths, Heather said Susan impressed the entire
team right away.
"She asked good questions," Heather said. "And
I really liked how she observed the artwork. That showed me she had a sense of
aesthetics, and that is important to me."
was hired in April 2017 as a hospitality clerk. She works 20 hours per week at
the firm's office in downtown Portland. Susan is responsible for stocking the
firm's seven kitchens located on four different floors of the Wells Fargo
building. She makes coffee, stocks pantries, does dishes, and makes sure the
kitchens and break rooms are presentable.
and paralegals have high stress and high expectations," Heather said. "They
need to come in and have those creature comforts available when they are
working long hours. Susan is a ray of sunshine. She is so happy and easygoing.
We have received so many compliments from both staff and clients since she
37, previously spent her days sorting hangers at Albertina Kerr's now—closed
sheltered workshop. The provider has transformed to community-based services.
Susan said she wanted to make more money and do different work.
wanted something that was less stressful and I wasn't making enough money,"
Susan said. "I like the variety here. There are different tasks every day."
moves between the four floors of Davis Wright Tremaine's office, and interacts
with a wide diversity of people. She has a tendency to be overly friendly, and
is working with a behavioral support specialist to learn to draw boundaries.
love to give hugs," Susan said. "I have to work on my boundaries."
Adams, Susan's initial job coach, said Susan learned the skills needed to do
the job quickly. Most of the work involved learning to communicate
professionally and setting her boundaries.
her free time, Susan volunteers at KBOO community radio station and
participates in Special Olympics. Her coworkers at Davis Wright Tremaine
pitched in to get her new golf balls, a shirt and a hat for her trip to the
support each other and help each other here – that's the environment here at
Davis Wright Tremaine," said Diane Sotski, Human Resources Manager. "Everybody
chips in to support one another and Susan is part of that family now."
Foster was the VR counselor for Susan. Betty Girsch with Multnomah County
Developmental Disabilities Services is her service coordinator. Her job
developers were Ryan Farrow from WISE and Erin Cochrun-Weston and Kevin McCray
from Albertina Kerr. Her initial job coach was Isaiah Adams and her current
coaches are Whitney Miller and Ryan McFallo.
View a slideshow
of Susan at work.