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Beacon College president Dr. George Hagerty joined an esteemed collective of global titans of industry in December to explore the “spheres of influence” that can and do improve the personal and work lives of individuals with disabilities during the 2020 Harkin International Disability Employment Summit.

Hagerty, who leads America’s first accredited baccalaureate institution dedicated to educating students with learning differences, joined panelists from Google, Wunderman Thompson Communications, which operates in 90 markets around the globe, and the Valuable 500, a global movement pushing to move 500 of the world’s largest businesses to commit to placing disability inclusion on their business leadership agendas.

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin — the chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act — reminded his colleagues in his farewell speech that “the unemployment rate among adult Americans with disabilities who want to work and can work is over 60 percent. That is a blot on our national character.”

The annual summits launched in 2017.

The eponymous international summit exists to influence employment policy and practices in the United States and around the globe by bringing together key champions and implementers from around the world in a single annual forum. Convened by the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen, the 2020 edition — staged virtually because of COVID — focused on the theme of “realizing the value of inclusion.”

Hagerty’s panel included Christina Mallon of Wunderman Thompson, KR Liu of Google, Marianne Waite, of The Valuable 500, and Regina (Gina) Kline of SmartJob, LLC.

“It was an honor to represent the Beacon community and our collegiate mission on an international panel of such distinguished advocates, each of whom is shaping the future of disability inclusion in the workforce,” Hagerty said. “Higher education is an influential party in preparing emerging adults to compete in a constantly shifting employment market where the jobs of tomorrow may not yet have been imagined. Beacon is called to lead in pioneering those opportunities that best prepare neurodiverse students for entry into this dynamic global environment.”

With these summits, Harkin aims to “look to a future [where] we must permanently fix the system so that disability inclusion moves from an aspirational goal to one that is an accepted and valued component of the business strategy.”

To view the conference, click here; President Hagerty’s panel discussion starts at 5:14:00