Our Mission: Create Opportunities for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and their Families to Participate Fully in the Community

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Proud of Dezirae Gurule - Our DSP NomineeMarch 23, 2022

IDD Awareness Day, hosted by Alliance Colorado, The Arc of Colorado, and CU JFK Partners was celebrated on March 23. Honoring the contributions and roles of Direct Support Professionals (DSP) has always been a significant part of IDD Awareness Day as we recognize the important impact these staff make in the lives of the people they serve.

We are incredibly proud of Dezirae Gurule, our DDRC DSP nominee for the 2022 Colorado DSP of the Year. She is a winner in our eyes! As an Employment Specialist on the DDRC Employment Services team, Dezirae has contributed to the evolution of our service delivery culture, built strong relationships with her team, and has a meaningful impact on the career journeys of the people she supports. 

Career Seeker Impact: Dezirae explores creative strategies to offer effective job coaching that supports independence. An example of her person-centered approach is when she began working with a career seeker who loves superheroes. The career seeker experiences anxiety, especially when trying to connect with new managers or co-workers. While some members of her support network felt the career seeker’s love of superheroes might be a hindrance to her success at work, Dezirae embraced what was important to this career seeker and explored how it could actually assist her at work and reduce anxiety. Dezirae helps this person build relationships with her team by being present with her for new introductions and encouraging conversation about superheroes. This employee now connects with new team members and mitigates her anxiety by talking about superheroes as an ice breaker. Instead of hiding her personal interests from her co-workers, it has become her superpower! 

Service Delivery Culture: Dezirae is a leader among her peers. She shares her knowledge and expertise with her fellow Employment Specialists to advance their supported employment skills for the benefit of the people we support. She asks bold questions and is not afraid to advocate for change that will help bring positive outcomes for the people we support.

For example, Dezirae provided supports for an employee who was pursuing his next steps toward greater independence at work. DDRC had been providing line of sight (LOS) supervision duties for this employee during his shifts. He demonstrated through his work performance and positive choices that it was time to discuss if his LOS supports could be reduced or eliminated altogether, as he desired. While it wasn’t typical that the Employment Specialist would  be involved in advocating for a transition away from line-of-sight supervision, Dezirae recognized his readiness to transition and helped him advocate for himself, including being present as a support during meetings that were not typically billable in Desirae’s role. However, this advocacy and her support promoted positive employment outcomes for this person. Our subject matter expert at HCPF applauded our advocacy and indicated that our inquiry regarding  the matter of billable activities would serve as a best practice case study as HCPF evolves their fee schedule over the coming months. Dezirae’s initiative shows she puts service culture first and seeks to make that the norm. 

Employer Relationships: Dezirae has a natural talent for connecting with local employers and building relationships with leaders in our local workforce to help open more doors for people we serve. She builds a network of employer contacts which leverages in her own job development efforts and shares her connections with her teammates so that the career seekers we support find the right job match for their employment goals.

Employers look to Dezirae as a resource for recruiting qualified candidates that are the right job match for their business needs and as a source of education around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. For example, Dezirae has developed a close relationship with the Golden Hotel and Restaurant management team. Because of her time spent getting to understand this employer’s needs, they have been an incredible partner in promoting inclusive employment within their own hiring practices. They have approached Dezirae about educating their staff on how to support co-workers with disabilities in an inclusive and equitable way.  When hiring opportunities become available, they reach out to Dezirae because they know that she will connect them with qualified candidates and be a meaningful resource and support for new employees. Similarly, Dezirae has also built strong working relationships with Burlington and the managers there have reached out to Dezirae to help with their hiring efforts in other parts of the state.

Dezirae’s contributions as an Employment Specialist at DDRC truly impacts every aspect of our work. From growing our team, to educating employers, to serving career seekers, Dezirae exemplifies Employment First and advancing our vision for people with disabilities to pursue their employment goals and participate fully in the workforce

And today, more than ever, positive outcomes for employees and employers, and workforce participation, are of importance for so many!