Lex Frieden Employment Awards
The Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities’ Annual Lex Frieden Employment Awards are named in honor of disability rights champion Lex Frieden. Frieden is one of the chief architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act and a recognized leader of the independent living movement. He is a professor of Biomedical Informatics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and director of the Independent Living Research Utilization program at TIRR Memorial Hermann. As a spokesperson on disability, Frieden advises national organizations and has authored many publications.
The Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities has worked to highlight the outstanding efforts of employers to hire and retain employees with disabilities for over thirty years. The Lex Frieden Employment Awards (LFEA) are held each October to coincide with National Disability Employment Awareness Month; by recognizing these best practices in hiring and accommodation, GCPD hopes to help build an inclusive, accessible work environment for all Texans with disabilities. When an employer makes creating a supportive work environment a centerpiece of their philosophy, everyone benefits! Lex Frieden Employment Award winners are employers who see themselves as community partners, and enthusiastically promote and pursue business opportunities for people with disabilities. For more information on LFEA categories and entry forms, continue below.
How to Submit a Nomination
Please submit the appropriate Entry Form for your nomination. The deadline for 2023 nominations is August 24, 2023.
Category Descriptions and Entry Forms
The Martha Arbuckle Award recognizes the most innovative local committee project, and is presented in memory of Austin's long-time disability advocate Martha Arbuckle.
Employer Awards are given in four categories - Small Employer (25 or fewer employees), Medium Employer (26 to 500 employees), Large Employer (more than 500 employees), and Non-Profit Employer. Each category serves to recognize employers in Texas who have fostered a diverse and accessible workplace and who have developed innovative ways to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace.
The Entrepreneurship Award is awarded to a living entrepreneur with a disability who has shown extraordinary ingenuity and drive to create and sustain a successful business that has created jobs and accessible services.
The Governor's Trophy is the Governor's Committee's highest honor and is awarded to the person who has achieved the highest success in enhancing the empowerment and employment of Texans with disabilities. The Governor's Trophy recognizes long-term commitment and outstanding efforts at both the community and state level.
Nominations, including self-nominations, in any of these categories are encouraged. A completed submission form specific to the category, along with any supporting material, can be mailed to:
Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities
P.O. Box 12428
Austin TX 78711
or send the submission by email to:
2022 Lex Frieden Award Winners
Governor's Trophy Award
Ms. Bobbie Hodges (Fort Worth)
The Texas Governor’s Trophy award honors Bobbie Hodges, Senior Director of Workforce Development for Goodwill North Central Texas. Bobbie started her career in 2000 and has been a steadfast advocate and mentor for people with disabilities. Bobbie is especially proud of her work with the Summer Earn & Learn program and Camp Independence. These two summer programs allow youth with disabilities to obtain workplace readiness training and work experience. Bobbie has served on the State of Texas Governor's Rehabilitation Council since 2018, and in 2015 was named Manager of the Year by Goodwill Industries of North Louisiana. In 2010, she received the HERA Award from the Shreveport Mayor’s Women’s Commission. The award honors unsung heroes who have made a positive difference in Shreveport, Louisiana, in the areas of advocacy, education, and quality of life.
Martha Arbuckle Award – Fun for All Playground (College Station)
The Fun for All Playground grew out of a desire to fill in a missing piece of the puzzle in the Brazos Valley community. The vision was to create a playground where entire families can play together, including families who include people with disabilities. The hope was to create a melting pot of people with different cognitive and physical abilities and to promote and encourage playing and engagement with each other. A public-private partnership in an unusual alliance including the City of College Station with the Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis Clubs moved this vision of a playground to reality. In addition, Texas A&M Architecture program students worked on projects as class assignments and submitted ideas that ultimately were merged to create the concept for the local playground. Thereafter, the City of College Station agreed to partner with Fun for All to develop and maintain the park. This is a key factor in the ongoing sustainability and success of the program. Using creative partnerships across organizational boundaries provides not just an immediate asset for the community, but an ongoing benefit and support for years to come.
Large Employer Award – Advance Auto Parts (Houston and Dallas)
Advance Auto Parts is accelerating its efforts to hire individuals with disabilities throughout the organization. After successful pilot programs at distribution centers in 2019, the People with Disabilities Hiring Initiative has grown to include 17 distribution centers and stores in 14 metro markets across the US, as well as to remote and in-person positions in the corporate offices. This includes stores and distribution centers in the greater Dallas and Houston areas. The initiative includes enhanced training for the team members, and frequent communication with local organizations helping job seekers with disabilities find employment. To date, Advance Auto Parts has hired over 500 team members as a direct result of this initiative.
Medium Employer Award – Bakery Express (Lewisville)
GCPD recognizes Bakery Express of Central Texas as the 2022 Medium Employer of the Year (26 to 500 employees) fostering a work culture that includes tolerance, diversity and acceptance as Bakery Express continues to employ workers with disabilities. In 2018, Bakery Express began working with Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Services and has maintained an ongoing relationship to gain access to qualified applicants. They work closely with the TWC Summer Earn and Learn program, Lewisville Independent School District Project Search, and placement partners Work Ready Texas and Quest Employment Services.
Small Employer Award – Home2 Suites (Abilene)
GCPD recognizes Home2 Suites in Abilene, Texas, as the 2022 Small Employer of the Year (25 employees or less). Home2 Suites provides natural supports for recruiting, employing and advancing Texans with disabilities including providing necessary accommodations and mentoring. Home2 Suites partners with the local vocational rehabilitation office to ensure they are giving Texans with disabilities an opportunity to join their company where almost twenty-five percent of their employees are persons with disabilities.
Non-Profit Organization – Goodwill Central Texas (Austin)
GCPD recognizes Goodwill Central Texas as the 2022 Non-Profit Employer of the Year. For more than six decades, Goodwill Central Texas has relentlessly focused on a single goal, transforming generations by empowering people through education, career training, and work. They believe that education and work are the only true pathways out of poverty and strive to provide opportunities for people in the community who face obstacles to sustainable employment by providing programs for people with disabilities. In addition, Goodwill boasts that 27.52% of Goodwill employees had a significant disability in 2021 and work at all levels of the organization, including leadership and board service. Goodwill not only offers an inclusive environment as an employer, but also promotes a more inclusive workforce through outreach to community employers, changing the face of the local labor market.
Above and Beyond: Employment Practices
Suggestions for creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for ALL people to help make your business or service stand out.
What Can YOU Do to Advance the Employment of People with Disabilities?
In support of the What Can YOU Do? outreach effort, the Campaign for Disability Employment is pleased to present the following video tools. Help us spread the word about the value and talent that people with disabilities bring to the workplace by sharing these videos and playing the Campaign for Disability Employment: