It All Starts with a Conversation

Once again we want to thank those who attended Amplify Success on October 19th and for those who expressed interest in the Oregon Employment First Diversity Challenge!

We wanted to share with you some of progress to date and the process we will use to help Oregon Employers become more diverse and inclusive in the workplace and to especially include individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).

The first objective of Amplify! was to engage people within any level of an organization, company, or government entity to begin to make a difference in the recruiting and employment of job seekers with I/DD. Whether those who responded want to dive right in and get all AMPED UP, or get more information and develop a vision, it is all good and we can help!

What’s Next?

We currently have appointments with 10 employers who responded and want to get “All Amped Up” before the New Year!  There is still time and opportunity for you; just reach out and we will connect.

The process begins with a simple conversation around the following goals:

  • To hear your vision
  • Discuss your current disability employment practices
  • Identify your strengths and needs
  • Develop an action plan

We look forward to reporting on the progress of these activities and next spring sharing the success stories that come from employers taking these first steps.

SAVE THE DATE:  Thursday, May 31st, 2018
“We Amped Up”!

A wrap up event hosted by Embassy Suites, Washington Square in order to share and honor those employers who took the challenge! Watch for more information in the coming months!

Cindy Bahl
Business Development Manager & Event Coordinator

Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC

Why Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Thank you Local Employers!

Thank you local area employers for attending the Amplify! event held at Nike WHQ yesterday morning! The room was packed!

I trust that you were as encouraged as I, by the keynote speaker, Dr. Richard Pimentel, as he inspired us to see ABILITY and to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities find their, “music within.”Through humor, tears and stories, he challenged us to address our unconscious bias and break down the barriers to workplace inclusion within ourselves and in our community. He amplified the importance and value that each person brings to our workplace and to our world.

The response to the Oregon Employment First Diversity Challenge Card exceeded our expectations! For those that completed the card, the team at Dirkse CC will be in contact soon to help your company/agency take the next steps! If you didn’t fill out a card or could not attend, please reach out – We’d love to talk more about what might work for your business.

Another shout out to the Nike Ability Team for hosting the venue and to our collaborating partners and sponsors, especially Oregon Employment First, who encouraged the opportunity to innovate and engage local communities to improve employment outcomes for students and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Last, but not least, I want to recognize my team at Dirkse CC for making the event run smoothly yesterday without a hitch!

Let’s Amplify!

Heidi Dirkse-Graw, MS, CRC, LPC
Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc.

Why Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Local Boy Comes Home


By: Dr Richard Pimentel

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein.

Einstein was thought of as anything but a genius when he was young. Life for him was like a fish trying to climb a tree. Then he found his lake. Mathematics. His story is not unlike many of our own stories. We of course are not geniuses as Einstein was but we all have a spark of genius our “music within” that we seek to discover and a “lake” that we hope to find.

When I was disabled in Vietnam I was sent home to Portland Oregon. At the time I was very much felt like a fish trying to climb a tree. It was not till years later that I realized that I did not have to search for my lake. I was sent home to it. The Portland/Beaverton area gave me the support and encouragement that I needed to be a part of the early disability rights and inclusion movement in the United States and eventually around the world.

I would like to take this moment to give a “shout out” to the individuals, organizations and employers who provided me with the “lake” I needed to learn to swim.

Portland State. When I was told by the Veterans Administration that my hearing was too damaged to ever become a professional speaker the head of the speech department, Ben Padrow told me “nonsense.” He worked with me for five years to achieve my goal.

Pacific Power & Light. When I was a college student in the 1970s I was working with disabled Vietnam veterans to try to get them jobs. PP&L donated their auditorium to me to conduct free trainings for persons with disabilities in the Portland/Beaverton area on how to find employment and be successful on the job.

When I was unexpectedly invited to Washington DC to attend the President’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities I was a student and had no money to attend. PP&L raised funds and paid my way so I could learn and return and help persons with disabilities in our community.

U.S. National Bank of Oregon. When I was a student and had an untested idea to develop a supervisor training to change attitudes towards the hiring and development of employees with disabilities. U.S. bank offered to “donate 200 supervisors for me to “practice” on and help develop the program. That program eventually became the “Windmills” Changing the Perception of Abilities employer training that is not the international standard for diversity training for persons with disabilities.

Tektronix, Beaverton Oregon.  One of the first employers to use and support the Windmills program. One of the undisputed leaders in diversity, inclusion for all their employees. They were one of the first national employers to train their supervisors in disability awareness.

“The California Governors Committee on Employment of the Handicapped” In 1979 they funded a nationwide search to identify the most effective and innovative ideas to change employer attitudes toward the hiring and promoting of persons with disabilities. They identified Portland/Beaverton area as the leader in the country. They funded Oregon’s model internationally.

Art Honeyman. A Portland State student, a disability activist, poet and a staple at the “Saturday Market” in Portland. He taught me that there was more to disability than my own challenges.  He became a friend and mentor for life.

THE PORTLAND/BEAVERTON METRO AREA.  The seeds of the disability inclusion movement are not associated with the Portland Beaverton area simply because I lived there. It is because the area lived in me. Its values, its support, its philosophy and its standards became my lake. Without it I might still be trying to climb that tree.

Your company can be someone’s lake, the environment where your employees will find and in return give meaning. On October 19th I am coming home. I may have left our home many years ago but our home has never left me.


Why attend Amplify!?

Because disability inclusion matters.
It benefits business.
It benefits us all.

Empower Your Workforce
Affirm Abilities
Amplify Success!