Press Release
August 21, 2019

Utah Employers Honored for Leading the Way in Supporting Individuals with Disabilities and Veterans
Golden Key Award recipients recognized for their outstanding contributions

SALT LAKE CITY (August 15, 2019) — Eight local businesses, agencies and advocates were each awarded with the Golden Key Award today, honoring their work to help promote employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including veterans. The 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.”

The Large Employer of the Year Award was presented to Rocky Mountain Power in Salt Lake City for its outstanding effort to provide 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.

Texas Roadhouse in Sandy was recognized with the Medium Employer of the Year Award for making 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.

The Small Employer of the Year Award was given to Jessie Jean’s Cafe in Ogden for seeking 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.

The Ace Award was presented to Jeffrey Jewett, co-founder of Spring Back Utah in Salt Lake City, for seeing beyond a person’s disability and giving 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.

Simplus in Salt Lake City received the Freedom Award for showing 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.

The ASAP Award was given to the Division of Juvenile Justice Services (JJS) for their participation in the 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.

Southwest Behavioral Health Center received the Agency Provider of the Year Award for their efforts to advocate 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.

The Provider of the Year Award was presented to Jen Hammond, a job coach with Innovative Harbor in Tooele, for going above and beyond in her work to create employment opportunities for her clients. Hammond’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, Hammond has helped her clients achieve stable employment.

For more information about this year’s winners and the Golden Key Awards, visit our Workforce Connections blog.