Golden Key Awards honor Utah employers for leading the way in supporting individuals with disabilities and veterans

Eight local businesses, agencies and advocates were each awarded with the Golden Key Award, honoring their work to help promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including veterans. The 45th Golden Key Awards were presented by the Utah Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and the Department of Workforce Services’ Utah State Office of Rehabilitation as part of the Disability:IN Utah annual summit.

Every year award recipients are nominated by their peers, employees and community partners for making the commitment to support people with disabilities and veterans through employment, including recruitment, training and workplace accommodations.

“It’s impossible to quantify the positive impact this year’s Golden Key Award winners have in their local communities and in the lives of those they employ and serve,” said Leah Lobato, director of the Utah Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. “Their leadership in hiring and supporting these skilled and qualified individuals is changing perceptions and raising the bar for corporate social responsibility in Utah and the nation.”

This year’s Golden Key Award recipients are:

  • Rocky Mountain Power – Large Employer of the Year Award
  • Texas Roadhouse – Medium Employer of the Year Award
  • Jessie Jean’s Cafe – Small Employer of the Year Award
  • Jeffrey Jewett & Spring Back Utah – Ace Award
  • Simplus – Freedom Award
  • Division of Juvenile Justice Services – ASAP Award
  • Southwest Behavioral Health Center – Agency Provider of the Year Award
  • Jen Hammond – Provider of the Year Award

LARGE EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Rocky Mountain Power, in Salt Lake City, provides appropriate workplace accessibility and accommodations for employees with disabilities. Staff go above and beyond to help ensure all aspects of the workplace are safe and well-maintained to support the success of all their employees.

MEDIUM EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Texas Roadhouse, in Sandy, makes it a priority to hire individuals with disabilities from the local community. By fostering a culture of positivity and support, all employees benefit working side-by-side one another.

SMALL EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Jessie Jean’s Cafe, in Ogden, seeks opportunities to employ qualified individuals, regardless of their disability. Job candidates are given “working” interviews to demonstrate skill, and employees are often provided with unconventional accommodations to capitalize on their abilities.

ACE AWARD: Jeffrey Jewett, co-founder of Spring Back Utah in Salt Lake City, sees beyond a person’s disability and gives them a chance to restore hope and dignity through employment. For one young man with autism who felt he was unemployable, Jewett provided him a customized job position to allow him to learn, grow and succeed at his own pace.

FREEDOM AWARD: Simplus, in Salt Lake City, shows commitment to hiring veterans. As a certified Vetforce partner, Simplus actively recruits veterans and military spouses, and further supports them through training and skills development. Simplus gives their veteran employees the chance to start a new career, take a new direction in their profession and grow within the company and industry at large.

ASAP AWARD: The Division of Juvenile Justice Services (JJS) participates in the Utah Alternative State Application Program (ASAP) to recruit and hire employees with disabilities. ASAP helps job applicants have a fair and efficient experience through the recruitment process. Because many of the youth JJS serves have disabilities, hiring qualified staff who can provide shared experiences living with a disability has improved JJS’s programs and outcomes for these youth.

AGENCY PROVIDER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Southwest Behavioral Health Center advocates for their clients in finding meaningful, competitive employment in their local communities throughout southern Utah. By helping individuals with disabilities find quality employment, their clients feel more a part of their local communities, have discovered purpose for their lives and have achieved economic stability.

PROVIDER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Jen Hammond, a job coach with Innovative Harbor in Tooele, goes above and beyond in her work to create employment opportunities for her clients. Jen’s professionalism and caring approach have enabled her to interact positively with her clients and collaborate effectively with employers. By providing hands-on and on-site support, Jen has helped her clients achieve stable employment.

For more information about the Golden Key Awards, visit