EDITORIAL: Miami Needs a Truly Inclusive Workforce
By Virginia A. Jacko, President and CEO of Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
As we mourn the recent, unexpected passing of Michael Finney, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, we should be mindful of his vision that inclusion is a central element of a successful business environment. In bringing to employers the Miami Community Ventures program, Mike was a vocal proponent and exemplar of hiring persons with disabilities to strengthen the quality of our regional workforce. Too often, blind and visually impaired persons and others with disabilities are overlooked to fill job openings, even when their backgrounds, training and experiences qualify them for consideration. Mike understood this fact. When he joined the Board of our Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, Mike toured our Job Training Program and immediately began interviewing our clients for open positions. Among those he met was Anneth Lezcano, a visually impaired woman who has learned to utilize screen-reading software and other specialized information technologies. Mike was so impressed with Anneth and her expertise that he hired her as project assistant in the new Miami Opioid Project, reporting directly to him. He and his Team subsequently collaborated with our Job Training Program and the Florida Division of Blind Services, exemplifying his approach to creating an equitable and diverse work environment. The South Florida community is blessed that other major employers – including Florida Blue, Home Depot and Amazon – are also committed to recruiting and retaining persons with disabilities. Other businesses should be encouraged to do the same, which through the Miami Beacon Council Community Ventures and the Miami Lighthouse Job Training Program. We are committed to introducing them to resources for qualified and motivated employees. As we honor the life of Michael Finney, let us all strive to emulate his belief in a truly inclusive workforce.