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THE BUSINESS ALBUM

Melwood Ability Awards honor those making a difference

Award winners from the inaugural Melwood Ability Awards gather for a group photo at MGM National Harbor. From left, Nelson A. Carbonell and Michele Carbonell, founding donors of the George Washington University Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute; Kevin A. Pelphrey, Ph.D., director of the institute; Peggy Fox, a news anchor with WUSA-TV, channel 9 and emcee for the event; Charnetia Young, an adviser of workforce initiatives in pharmacy services for CVS Health; Cari DeSantis, president and CEO of Melwood; Rob Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and featured speaker for the event; Linda Chandler, president and CEO of  Linden Resources in Arlington, Virginia; and Don Thompson, owner of Don’s Café in Hyattsville; and Tracy Wareing Evans, the executive director of the American Public Human Services Association and chair of Melwood’s board of directors. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Award winners from the inaugural Melwood Ability Awards gather for a group photo at MGM National Harbor. From left, Nelson A. Carbonell and Michele Carbonell, founding donors of the George Washington University Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute; Kevin A. Pelphrey, Ph.D., director of the institute; Peggy Fox, a news anchor with WUSA-TV, channel 9 and emcee for the event; Charnetia Young, an adviser of workforce initiatives in pharmacy services for CVS Health; Cari DeSantis, president and CEO of Melwood; Rob Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and featured speaker for the event; Linda Chandler, president and CEO of Linden Resources in Arlington, Virginia; and Don Thompson, owner of Don’s Café in Hyattsville; and Tracy Wareing Evans, the executive director of the American Public Human Services Association and chair of Melwood’s board of directors. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Rob Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and combat engineer wounded in action in Afghanistan, was the featured speaker Melwood Ability Awards. A double amputee, Jones earned national recognition after completing 31 marathons over 31 days in 31 different cities on prosthetic legs. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Rob Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and combat engineer wounded in action in Afghanistan, was the featured speaker Melwood Ability Awards. A double amputee, Jones earned national recognition after completing 31 marathons over 31 days in 31 different cities on prosthetic legs. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Peggy Fox, an anchor with WUSA-TV, channel 9, addresses the crowd during the inaugural Melwood Ability Awards. Fox, the emcee of the event, spoke of her personal bond to Melwood’s mission through her brother-in-law, who is recovering from a brain injury. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Peggy Fox, an anchor with WUSA-TV, channel 9, addresses the crowd during the inaugural Melwood Ability Awards. Fox, the emcee of the event, spoke of her personal bond to Melwood’s mission through her brother-in-law, who is recovering from a brain injury. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Guests give a standing ovation to one of the speakers at MGM National Harbor during the inaugural Melwood Ability Awards. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Guests give a standing ovation to one of the speakers at MGM National Harbor during the inaugural Melwood Ability Awards. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

The Research & Innovation Award given to Nelson A. Carbonell and Michele Carbonell is displayed on a table at MGM National Harbor during the inaugural Melwood Awards. The Carbonells were founding donors of the George Washington University Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

The Research & Innovation Award given to Nelson A. Carbonell and Michele Carbonell is displayed on a table at MGM National Harbor during the inaugural Melwood Awards. The Carbonells were founding donors of the George Washington University Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Melwood Employees of the Month were recognized at the inaugural Melwood Ability Awards at MGM National Harbor. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

Melwood Employees of the Month were recognized at the inaugural Melwood Ability Awards at MGM National Harbor. (Photo by Ayesha Khwaja)

The inaugural Melwood Ability Awards debuted Dec. 7 amid the lights and glamor of MGM National Harbor as individuals and institutions in the Washington metropolitan area were recognized for making a lasting difference for people with differing abilities.

The poinsettia-adorned location and presence of celebrity speakers added to the excitement of the evening. Emmy-award winning journalist and WUSA-TV, channel 9 anchor Peggy Fox emceed the ceremony and spoke of her personal bond to Melwood’s mission through her brother-in-law, who is recovering from a brain injury.

Rob Jones, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and combat engineer wounded in action in Afghanistan, was the featured speaker of the evening. A double amputee, Jones earned national recognition this past November after completing an impressive 31 marathons over 31 days in 31 different cities on prosthetic legs.

Those receiving awards in four categories included:

  • Research & Innovation: Kevin Pelphrey, director of the George Washington University Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute in Washington and founding donors Nelson and Michelle Carbonelle were recognized. The award is presented to a company, organization, or persons who develop innovative programs, systems or services that empower people with differing abilities to transform their lives and thrive in the workplace.
  • Corporate Leadership: Charnetia Young, an adviser in workforce initiatives of pharmacy services for CVS Health, accepted the award. It is presented to a company or organization that has launched initiatives in communities for job training, employment opportunities and improving the quality of life for people with differing abilities.
  • Lifetime Achievement: Linda Chandler, president and CEO of Linden Resources in Arlington, Virginia. The award is presented to a leader in the Washington metropolitan area who has exemplified compassion and made a significant impact or contribution in the lives of people with differing abilities through business services, advocacy and community resources over the lifetime of their career.
  • Community Impact: Don Thompson of Don’s Café in Hyattsville accepted the award, given to a small business owner who offers a diverse and inclusive workforce by hiring and training people with differing abilities and who also inspires integrity and demonstrates ethical leadership.

Melwood is celebrating 54 years of leadership advocating for and empowering people with differing abilities, including wounded veterans, to transform their lives through unique opportunities to work and play in the community.

To submit photos for The Business Album, email swallace@thedailyrecord.com.

To purchase a reprint of this album as it appeared in the print edition of The Daily Record, contact reprints@thedailyrecord.com.

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