Date: September 16
7-8 p.m., CT
Virtual, registrants will receive a link to participate ahead of the event

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The coronavirus pandemic caused a huge disruption to where and how Americans work. Businesses across the country moved to telework and employees developed new work-from-home routines. In this time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, Microsoft has demonstrated itself as a leader both in accessible technology and its commitment to employment for people with disabilities.

Microsoft’s tools and software have played an integral role in the shift to remote work for many companies. Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Office at Microsoft, will discuss this and the company’s commitment to competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities during The Harkin Institute’s virtual 2020 Sussman Lecture on September 16.

Increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities has been a priority for Senator Tom Harkin (retired) and The Harkin Institute, since our founding in 2013. Only about 29 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities are employed even though many want to work. What’s more, people with disabilities are more likely to be laid off when there is a downturn in the economy. Approximately 20 percent of working people with disabilities have lost a job as a result of the pandemic, compared to 14 percent of non-disabled workers.

Lay-Flurrie, who is profoundly deaf, leads many Microsoft initiatives to empower people with disabilities both inside and outside the company. She has been with the company since 2005 and has a passion for helping Microsoft serve as a model of how to recruit and retain employees with disabilities.

Established by Richard Sussman, AS’51, in memory of his late wife, Lila, the Sussman Lecture Series include NASA Chief Historian Bill Barry; Columbia, SC, Mayor Stephen Benjamin; Nobel Pease Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi; Julie Steward, president and founder of Families Against Mandatory Minimums; and Celine Cousteau, a French explorer, education ambassador and documentary filmmaker.

The Sussman Lecture on September 16 is free and open to the public, but registration is required.