Kan. group aims to boost hiring of disabled people

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Creating a group that encourages employers to hire and retain workers with disabilities is both a personal and professional endeavor for a Sedgwick County man.

Dave Phillips is chairman of the Business Leadership Network of Sedgwick County, a public-private partnership that aims to boost hiring of disabled workers. He is also is the director of restaurant marketing for Sasnak Management, the parent company of Carlos O'Kelly's restaurants, which has agreed to be the group's lead employer, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1azQVFp ).

Phillips told the newspaper that his son deals with developmental disabilities and has "been the beneficiary of wonderful employers . so I was a pretty easy sell."

The start-up group's inaugural event is a luncheon in Wichita on Thursday that will feature a presentation on providing employment to people with autism given by Keith Wiedenkeller, senior vice president for Kansas City-based AMC Entertainment.

"He's kind of legendary for what he's accomplished in hiring people with autism," Phillips said.

Representatives from at least 10 major employers are expected to attend to the event.

The new group was created by the Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization and its board includes officials from Manpower, Amerigroup, Kansas Elks Training Center for the Handicapped and Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation.

Its goal is to give employers opportunities to learn from one another as well as provide resources and information.

"We're a resource and networking organization," Phillips said. "Every business can do something . everyone can do their part."