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17th Annual Mayor's Awards in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month

17th Annual Mayor's Awards in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Mayor Randy Rowse Honors Employers and Businesses Committed to Employing People with Disabilities at 17th Annual Mayor’s Awards

SANTA BARBARA, CA (October 19, 2022) Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse and service organizations will honor four local organizations for their commitment to employing and supporting people with disabilities.

The organizations being honored during the ceremony include: Santa Barbara City College Foundation, Maximus, Smart & Final Extra!, and Kyle’s Kitchen. The businesses will be recognized at the 17th Annual Mayor’s Awards ceremony, which will be held in person at the Cabrillo Pavilion on Wednesday, October 26, at 8 a.m. PDT.

This year’s theme, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” recognizes the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive. The keynote speaker at this year’s event will be Sophia Lee-Park, a lifelong disability advocate and community engagement intern at Isla Vista Community Services District.

The annual awards are held during National Disability Employment Awareness Month every October. This will be Mayor Rowse’s first Mayor’s Awards, and the first in-person awards ceremony since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


NON-PROFIT AWARD: Santa Barbara City College Foundation

The Non-Profit Award is presented to an organization that embraces the spirit of inclusion and accessibility. This year’s award goes to the Santa Barbara City College Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and partner to SBCC, which awards more than $5 million annually for student success programs, scholarships, book grants, emergency funds and other critical needs of the college. The SBCC Foundation works diligently to remove or break down barriers for the most vulnerable populations, including people living with disability.

Through its Promise program, SBCC Foundation provides tuition, books and supplies to graduates of local high schools. To date, more than 6,000 students have participated in the Promise program, including many who live with a disability. The SBCC Foundation provides accommodations to SBCC Promise Students with disabilities to learn at their own pace with a reduced or modified workload. It also provides scholarships for students to attend Santa Barbara City College’s Disability Services and Programs, which teach invaluable job and life skills for students with disabilities.

The SBCC Foundation fuels the excellence of Santa Barbara City College by engaging the community, building relationships and inviting the generosity of donors. The resources raised and managed by the Foundation enrich college programs, remove barriers and empower students to succeed. For more than 45 years, the resources raised and managed by the SBCC Foundation have supported SBCC students as they prepare for careers, transfer to four-year universities and pursue lifelong learning goals.


The Award for Outstanding Effort recognizes Smart & Final Extra! for hiring and supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their store. Smart & Final Extra! has been an open and accepting workplace for people living with disabilities since it opened in 2016.

In Santa Barbara, Smart & Final has been proudly serving the sunny, beachside community for decades through three area locations. Store 914, located at 3943 State Street, is an “Extra!” store format, which combines the brand’s warehouse store experience and club-sized offerings with traditional store offerings like farm-fresh produce and natural and organic options. Customers at this location are served by nearly 50 associates and have access to a full-service bakery, bulk department and soon, a sushi bar.

Smart & Final prides itself on supporting all of its employees and works closely with each store to provide the necessary accommodations to ensure their success, underscoring the company’s core value of respect. At Store 914, this commitment is evident through the store’s diverse staff, which includes seven employees living with an intellectual or developmental disability. The store’s management devotes time and effort to accommodate these employees while working to make their teams more inclusive. Job coaches help support associates living with disabilities to learn new tasks and communicate their needs so that they may thrive long-term. Smart & Final ensures their employees are respected, seen and heard, which has been critical to the store’s success and its impact on the local community.


The Employment / Accommodation Award is presented to an employer who reflects the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in employment practices. This year’s award goes to Kyle’s Kitchen, in recognition of its work creating employment opportunities for people who live with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Kyle's Kitchen is a socially-responsible restaurant chain based in Santa Barbara, California that supports organizations and initiatives dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities living in the communities they serve. Inspired by their son Kyle, the Ferro Family opened its first location in 2015 with the goal of creating a business that could also help people with disabilities reach their potential. Each month, Kyle’s Kitchen donates a portion of proceeds to an organization that supports people with disabilities. With four locations now, throughout Santa Barbara and Goleta, Kyle’s Kitchen has donated more than $250,000 to support disability organizations throughout the communities they serve.

In 2021, Kyle’s Kitchen created a new position tailored to the talents of job seekers who live with disability. They partnered with Tri-Counties Regional Center and Department of Rehabilitation to source qualified candidates and provided customized schedules, duties and supervision. Using a Paid Internship funded by Tri-Counties Regional Center, the staff provided several months of training and mentorship for every one of their employees living with disability. Kyle’s Kitchen has provided opportunity for six people who live with disability in the last year, and look forward to providing more in the future.


The Design/Accessibility Award is presented annually to a person or entity that has developed innovative and creative solutions for accessible structures, buildings or services, or provided accommodations to create equal and aesthetic access. This year’s award goes to Maximus for creating its DiversABILITY Team to help job seekers who live with disability by connecting them with remote work opportunities. In partnership with the state’s Unemployment Insurance program, also supported by Maximus, the team was able to connect a number of eligible individuals who were also UI beneficiaries with meaningful work. In just the last year, 73 candidates from the Santa Barbara area have been hired through the program.

Founded in 1975, Maximus is the leading provider of health and human services to government agencies around the world, including several agencies in California. The DiverseABILITY Team at Maximus is a specialized unit whose singular efforts are to support individuals with disabilities, veterans, and veterans with disabilities into employment. Through partnerships with Vocational Rehabilitation offices around the United States, Maximus has empowered its counselors to submit individuals with disabilities and veteran candidates directly into the interview pipeline. These partnerships get job candidates directly in the hands of hiring staff while the DiversABILITY Team assists with necessary accommodations. The pilot scaled to more than 30 engagement centers in 2019.

The DiverseABILITY Team at Maximus not only partners externally, but internally with its Maximus project leaders. These various operations teams help drive the hiring of individuals with disabilities onto its projects, ensure necessary accommodations are put in place and supported, and help foster an inclusive workplace. Since January 2018, the Maximus DiverseABILITY Team has also created and delivered disability and veteran awareness training to more than 500 stakeholders and hiring managers across more than 31 of the company’s largest citizen engagement centers in the U.S.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Sophia Lee-Park, Disability Advocate

Currently, Sophia Lee-Park is a fourth-year student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, pursuing her B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Education Studies. She considers herself a lifelong disability advocate and a Santa Barbara local. Sophia has been the Chair and a Co-Chair of the Associated Students’ Commission on Disability Equity (CODE) since the summer of 2019. After initiating all her advocacy work throughout the past few years, Lee-Park hopes to develop lasting education strategies to help UCSB achieve its universal accessibility and inclusivity goals.

Since October 2021, Lee-Park has worked as a community engagement intern and accessibility advocate/consultant for the local government of Isla Vista, the Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD). In her role, she ensures that programming, events, outreach strategies and materials are supportive, inclusive and accessible to everyone in her local community.

About the Organizing Committee

This year’s event organizers include representatives from each of the following organizations: California Department of Rehabilitation, City of Santa Barbara, Tri-Counties Regional Center, Independent Living Resource Center, Santa Barbara Unified School District Bridges TPP, Jodi House Brain Injury Support Center, County of Santa Barbara Workforce Development Board, Santa Barbara City College, Momentum WORK, Inc., and PathPoint; and community volunteers Pamela Gunther and Julie Holmes.

A special thanks to Vons-Albertsons-Pavilions for providing florals and food, and the Santa Barbara EAC for providing funding for supplies.

About PathPoint

PathPoint is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports people in living the life they choose. The organization partners with people with disabilities and mental health diagnoses to pursue their hopes and dreams through strengthening workplace abilities, building life skills, and developing meaningful relationships. By partnering with over 2,500 individuals across Kern, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties, PathPoint works hard to create compassionate, inclusive, and equitable communities where all individuals have the opportunity to thrive. For more information, please visit: