Disability:IN Wisconsin Inclusion Award

The Derek Smith Leadership Award for Disability Inclusion recognizes an individual who has developed or influenced business disability employment programs and/or services that resulted in measurable, significant and positive outcomes, dramatically improving disability employment opportunities.

The winner is honored at the Annual Disability:IN Wisconsin Summit.

Award Criteria:

  • Nominee needs to be a senior level role within an organization.
  • The nominee must be an individual from the Wisconsin business or from the non-profit or government sectors, whose activities exemplify dynamic leadership in the area of corporate disability inclusive employment policies, programs, practices and/or services.
  • The nominee must have developed or influenced the development of significant business disability inclusive employment programs and/or services that resulted in measurable, tangible and positive outcomes that dramatically improved disability inclusive employment opportunities.
  • The nominee must have been actively advocating for and advancing inclusive disability employment change for a minimum of three years.
  • Self-nominations are not encouraged.

Nominations open in 2024

The award ceremony is October 3, 2024 during the
2024 Disability:IN Wisconsin Summit, hosted at ManpowerGroup.


For those interested in learning more, download the 2023 Award Flyer and Nomination Form

About Derek Smith, Disability:IN Wisconsin’s first Board Chair

“Derek Smith was key in the formation of Disability:IN Wisconsin. He was involved in discussions over the years that led to the statewide affiliate being formed in 2019. Derek was the organization’s first Board Chair from 2019-2021. Derek is a leader in disability inclusion and this annual award is a tribute to his leadership and commitment over the years.” – Judy Quigley, Founding Executive Director

For three years, under his leadership Disability:IN Wisconsin grew from 6 members to 40, today we have over 60 members. We became financially stable and in year three we were awarded by National as the Affiliate of the Year. We are pleased to honor Derek’s commitment to Disability Inclusion by naming this award after him.

View our Media Kit and 2023 Award Winners

Levi Stein, Friendship Circle of Wisconsin 

  • Levi began volunteering for The Friendship Circle of Michigan when he was a teen and founded and directed the Friendship Circle of Puerto Rico from 2010 to 2015.
  • He and his family settled in Milwaukee in 2016 to serve as the executive director for Friendship Circle of Wisconsin (FCWI) and continue growing the circle of Friendship throughout our communities. In 2019, Levi supplemented Friendship Circle services with the addition of Friendship Cafe & Bakery in Fox Point.
  • Friendship Circle of Wisconsin has partnered with several organizations, foundations, and businesses to enhance practices of full inclusion through our Employment Training Program (ETP) and the adult programming division of FCWI. These partnerships are bolstered by their own staff, many of whom have disabilities and have participated in vocational training offered by FCWI. Our ETP involves vocational training in flexible, productive environments and acts as an opportunity for adults with disabilities to continue their education.