The Chicagoland Business Leadership Network (CBLN), a program of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation that works toward greater inclusion of people with disabilities, today was named winner of the 2018 “Affiliate of the Year” Award, presented by the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN). The award was announced at the USBLN’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Board Directors of the Chamber’s CBLN were present to accept it, along with the CBLN Director and the Interim Executive Director of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which manages the program within the Chicagoland Chamber.

The Affiliate of the Year Award goes to an organization whose efforts result in employers and their communities understanding, utilizing and benefiting from the valuable workers that people with disabilities present in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain.

“This is quite an honor, quite an accomplishment,” said Nancy Nauheimer, CBLN Board Chair and Senior Vice President at Northern Trust, in her speech while accepting the award. Afterwards, she said: “On behalf of our board and membership, we are very proud of our work to create a driving force to help Chicago businesses purposefully build disability inclusion into their organizations.  The CBLN business-to-business model provides valuable networking opportunities, collaboration, thought leadership and access to resources.”

Jack Lavin, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, congratulated CBLN members, Board Directors and Chamber staff. “The award is great validation of the work our CBLN member businesses, our advisors, the Chamber team and the disability community have put into prioritizing inclusion at businesses throughout the Chicago region,” Lavin said.

Lavin and Nauheimer pointed to support from the CBLN’s partner businesses and funders, such as The Chicago Community Trust, as crucial to the success of the Chamber’s CBLN.  Additional organizations interested in partnering with the CBLN on disability inclusion efforts can contact CBLN Director Laura Wilhelm. Businesses can also learn more about CBLN at an event on July 25, Disability & Business: A Peer-to-Peer Conversation on Inclusion. A link to the event webpage is here.

Workers with disabilities comprise a large, untapped talent pool and an innovative segment of workers. 18% of all people in Illinois have a disability of some type, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 23% of Chicagoans have a disability, according to Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.