RESUME: Director of Product, Skype for Business, Microsoft.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO BE A BOARD MEMBER? Because of a family member with intellectual disability I’ve been a part of the Microsoft disability community for a long time. It’s a great thing about working at Microsoft and allows people to come together to share knowledge about resources and get connected with benefits at the company.
I did some work with Neil Barnett on the early stages of Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program. I then got involved with Special Olympics Washington and the more I was involved the more it resonated with my view of disability inclusion, acceptance and empowerment.
I then became aware of and hired a young man named Wil Searing. Wil is a Special Olympics Washington athlete and has been really successful at Microsoft and is fully integrated within our team. I’m proud of the work he does and it was from talking to him that I came to understand how important Special Olympics is to athletes. They are proud of who they are and are great examples of how to advocate for yourself to be included in the world.
WHAT SPORTS DID YOU PLAY? I played baseball in high school in New Jersey and that’s my favorite sport. I also played basketball and was a swimmer.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM SPORTS THAT YOU’VE APPLIED TO YOUR CAREER? Two big things. Teamwork. I was a catcher and it was important to me to help the rest of the team. I tried to do that instead of focusing on my individual performance. I always thought that’s what the great ones did. The second thing is resilience. A lot of things in sports don’t go right all the time and the mindset sports helped me find was how to keep going anyway. That has served me super well in my professional life.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE GAMES WILL MEAN TO THE CITY OF SEATTLE? Brad Smith puts it perfectly. These games are a great opportunity to highlight Seattle as a City of Inclusion. The general attitude of people is one of openers and acceptance and looking to include people of all backgrounds and strengths in the success of the city. That’s enormously important to me. I’m very excited about the Welcome/Inclusion Initiative (WIN) that’s working with the USA Games to identify businesses that have basic training and have a good reputation for serving people with disabilities.
WHAT SHOULD ATHLETES SEE AND DO WHILE THEY ARE IN SEATTLE? The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard are a great place to visit. Getting to watch the salmon jump up the ladder is so unique. And watching the machinery that gets the boats up and down is really fun.