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.
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