Valari Kendrick, ITKAN Advisory Team Member and Co-Chair, Membership Committee
Last night I attended the 2nd Annual ITKAN Business After Hours Event. What a celebration we had! During the cocktail hour we met members, sponsors, business associates, and new guests. The meeting of minds and sharing of information was phenomenal.
Pat Maher, Director of Civic Engagement for SPR Consulting, was our host for the event. He led us on a journey of ITKAN’s inception, history, and successes, and paved the way for the introduction of our Keynote Speaker.
Adam Heckman, Microsoft’s Director of Technology, and Civic Innovation for Chicago, provided us with an introduction to Jenny Lay-Flurrie. The respect and friendship he has for Jenny was evident and set the stage beautifully for her address.
Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, graced us with her presence as Keynote Speaker. She was dynamic, frank, and entertaining. She was clear about her abilities and how they are empowering. She shed light on how she helps direct Microsoft and its products to help redefine, enhance, and strengthen the culture of diversity, with technology and accessibility being two of its main goals to “empower every person”.
The most important message I received from Jenny was “education is the core” to embracing our opportunity to change the culture for people with disabilities and their ability to mesh with the world. The light and lessons Jenny shared with us will resonate with me forever.
Adam Heckman and Microsoft’s Urban Engagement Chicago Team were then presented with the 2nd Annual Rose Stein Light from Within award for their continued dedication, support, and friendship. Adam was gracious in both his acceptance of the award and his expression of gratitude for his ITKAN friendship.
Tim Roessler, ITKAN Advisory Team Member and Co-Chair, gave us closing remarks. He likened the work, at ITKAN and our sponsors and guests, to a puzzle. A beautiful mosaic with many pieces being built to make one prolific picture: one of community, knowledge, technology, and support. What a wonderful way to encourage guests, and praise the support of our sponsors, business associates and members of ITKAN.