Mayor Murillo Honors Local Businesses for Employing Individuals with Disabilities

Award Winners of 2019 Mayor’s Awards for Disability Employment
(L to R) Tom Good, Owner, Buena Tool Company; Mat Gradias, Associate Architect, Kruger Bensen Ziemer Architects;  J.J. McLeod, Education Manager, Santa Barbara Zoo; Miles Hartfeld, President & General Manager, Karl Storz Imaging; Dani Anderson, Executive Director, Independent Living Resource Center; Das Williams, Supervisor, County of Santa Barbara; Cathy Murillo, Mayor, City of Santa Barbara; Oscar Gutierrez, Councilmember, City of Santa Barbara; and Meagan Harmon, Councilmember, City of Santa Barbara, and daughter.

By Jeannie Barbieri-Low, Media Coordinator/Mayor’s Awards Organizing Committee 2019

Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo hosted the 14th Annual Mayor’s Awards honoring organizations that facilitate employment for individuals with disabilities, at the Carrillo Recreation Center on October 23rd. The breakfast event was held in conjunction with the National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Dani Anderson, Executive Director of the Independent Living Resource Center, presented the keynote talk on her personal journey and how independent living and employment were key to her becoming a leading disability advocate. She noted that 1 in 4 people in the U.S. live with a disability.  

The Mayor spoke about the community resources available to support people with disabilities in training and employment, such as paid internships and work experience programs, particularly for young adults looking for their first job.  Mayor Murillo presented four awards to the following local businesses/organizations:

KARL STORZ Imaging was recognized with the Employment/Accommodation Award for an employer who reflects the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in employment practices. The company was recognized for customizing a job to align with the strengths of a job candidate, and increasing the responsibilities beyond the original job description of Facilities Assistant.

Kruger Bensen Ziemer Architects accepted the Design/Accessibility Award for its innovative and creative solutions for accessible structures, with the goal of creating equal and aesthetic access. Their community impact includes the restoration of the Lobero and Marjorie Luke Theaters, the new Institute for Culinary Arts, and the new West Campus Center at Santa Barbara City College.

Santa Barbara Zoo won the Non-Profit Award for embracing the spirit of inclusion and accessibility.  It is the first zoo on the West Coast to become a Certified Autism Center, where staff receive training with the goal of being more inclusive of guests with autism.  They also offer inclusive camps and Autism Safari Nights.

The Award for Outstanding Effort went to Buena Tool Company for providing training and employment opportunities to a student worker.  The paid work experience enabled the student to try four different jobs at the business, gaining experience and confidence, which resulted in the student being hired.

Nominees were also recognized for their contributions to advance disability employment: UCSB, Chevron, Tee-Off Restaurant, Fantastic Sams, Barratto Sullivan Insurance, Residence Inn Marriott, Hilton Beachfront, Best Western, Santa Barbara Auto Group, and Smart & Final.

Elected officials attending in support of the cause included:  Hannah Sullivan and Sophie Fox from State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s office; Das Williams, Supervisor, County of Santa Barbara; Oscar Gutierrez, Councilmember, City of Santa Barbara; Meagan Harmon, Councilmember, City of Santa Barbara; and Roger Aceves, Councilmember, City of Goleta.

For more information on disability employment programs, please contact the Department of Rehabilitation (805) 560-8130 and Tri-Counties Regional Center at (805) 962-7881.


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  1. She is the mayor of Santa Barbara, not Carpinteria. Those of us who live in SB have a right to complain about a mayor who prefers attending “cupcake parties” over taking on real issues. Downtown SB is in shambles…and all we get is Das/Cathy photo ops day in and day out all the time.

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