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SHRM in Vegas

I traveled with my co-worker Nicole Patton to Lancaster for a speaking engagement for the Society of Human Resource Management. That day I was told that I was going to be in a video for SHRM telling my story, and why our work is so important for the Differently Abled community. When the crew from Las Vegas SHRM came to the office they set up the camera, the lights, the seating and made sure everything looked perfect to film.

Paul Blurton their creative officer and I were going through the question and answers he drew up to make sure that the questions were understandable. Once we were filming he had additional questions pertaining to my job and the impact I was making. At the end they wanted more shots of me answering the phone, going outside the building and walking in. Paul told me at the end that there was a convention in Las Vegas where they were going to show this video and a couple of other videos to 20,000 people. They asked me to go to Las Vegas to be on stage and to network as well.

On Sunday morning I was headed to Las Vegas for the first time. SHRM arranged a car service for Ashley and I to drive us to the hotel, to the convention center and anywhere we had to go. When we got to the hotel we checked in and had dinner to discuss the next day and how it would play out.

On the day of the convention, our driver picked us up and took us to the convention center where the main event was being held. The SHRM staff at the convention center wanted the three of us to practice and get a feel for the stage.

At the actual event, they showed the video of Anne Marie Johnson and she came out and spoke about her life. She had gone to jail and then re-invented herself as an author. They showed a video of Kelly, Adam (who could not make the event) and myself, all self-advocates. The CEO of SHRM, Johnnie Taylor Jr. then spoke. It was set so Kelly and I would meet him in the middle of the stage, afterward we were to go back behind stage and once again came back out to meet Johnny Taylor Jr. in the center of the stage to bow. The stage was huge with spotlights with over 20,000 attendees. I’m not usually nervous but this day really did give me butterflies. We received two standing ovations!

Later in the conference they had a big open general session called Coffee and Conversations. The questions pertained to awkward conversations you probably don’t want to have in the office. The topics included age discrimination, diversity in the workplace and equal pay for equal work to name a few. We walked on a floor like a dance floor and bubbles would show up underneath your feet when two or more people were near each other. The people would then discuss the question underneath their feet. It helped all of us to understand the topics more clearly.

I was honored to be asked to be a part of such a great society, sharing my world with them. I hope it helps all of these Human Resource Managers to hire more individuals that are differently-abled like myself. It was an awesome experience! Unfortunately or fortunately I only had a few minutes to try my luck at gambling. Better luck next time!

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