On International Mentoring Day, January 17, 2020, the Class of 2019–32 individuals and one organization–was inducted into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame for their mentoring excellence and impact regarding in disability inclusion.
The namesake of this award, Susan M. Daniels, was a force of nature. She achieved enormous success in creating a significant impact as a mentor to many individuals with disabilities. The Susan M. Daniels Disability Hall of Fame was not only established to honor her but those who are continuing her legacy and also making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.
In 2015, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act, the National Disability Mentoring Coalition named the first twenty-five25 inductees into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. These twenty-five outstanding mentors were selected based on their demonstrated commitment to impacting and improving the lives of people with disabilities.
The theme throughout the Class of 2019 ceremony was of mentoring being a two-way relationship; the mentor not only passes on wisdom and advice to the mentee but the mentor learns and grows through this symbiotic reciprocal relationship. When people with disabilities are mentored, it not only benefits the disability community, but the entire community as a whole. Susan dedicated her life to being a mentor and teaching others to do the same in hopes of creating a positive impact on society. Watch the Ceremony on YouTube.
During the ceremony, Barbara Butz, an inductee of the Class of 2018 who recently passed away, was honored. John Kemp, President & CEO of The Viscardi Center, remembered Barbara’s life-long career and dedication to supporting young people with disabilities in education, employment, and community inclusion. John describeds Barbara as an incredible mentor who poured her life into mentees in order to help them grow. As the president of PolicyWorks, she grew this peer mentorship program to national status. She was described as a gentle goddess and fierce warrior. Everyone who encountered her loved working with her but she also had a talent for making things happen.
Elizabeth Jennings, a former colleague and mentee of Barbara’s, was inducted as one of the members of the Class of 2019. Elizabeth is the acting Executive Director for the National Disability Institute and has great knowledge of financial literacy. Her flexibility and humility allow her to mentor with compassion and great understanding. Elizabeth is dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities by ensuring full participation in society via implementing economic advancements into daily activities and resources.
Daman Wandke, another inductee into the Class of 2019, was a mentee of Barbara’s as well. Daman, the CEO and Founder of AbiliTrek, is a life-long disability advocate. He is a graduate of Western Washington University with a master’s in business administration. Along with running AbiliTrek, Daman has spoken at many events, teaches disability studies at his alma mater and enjoys traveling and being on the water. Daman attributes his success to all the incredible mentors in his life and he desires to be the same kind of mentor they have been to him.
Mentoring is incredibly important to the empowerment of the disability community. We at PolicyWorks are grateful for the National Disability Mentoring Coalition in their recognition of the mentors that have impacted so many lives. We are honored that people like Barbara, Elizabeth, and Daman, along with others in the past, were recognized for their mentorship. Peer mentoring works!