Colleen Kelly Starkloff, co-founder and co-director of the Starkloff Disability Institute, is being honored with the Disability Awareness Award from the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, a division of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
"The Disability Awareness Award is presented in recognition of Colleen's extraordinary efforts as co-founder and co-director of The Starkloff Disability Institute, which is dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate fully and equally in all aspects of society," said Gina Montgomery of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. "The Starkloff Disability Institute, through its programs and Universal Design Summit, is educating the public on how to help people with disabilities overcome the institutional obstacles that exist in our workplaces," Montgomery said.
"I am very honored and proud to receive the Disability Awareness Award, particularly because it helps generate more exposure for the key issues, challenges and opportunities for welcoming people with disabilities into the professional workforce," Ms. Starkloff said.
The award was presented at the 4th Annual Human Rights Conference Celebrating International Human Rights Day on November 6, 2015, at Saint Louis University School of Law. For conference information call 314-340-4797.
In 2003, Ms. Starkloff co-founded the Starkloff Disability Institute with her late husband Max J. Starkloff and David Newburger, who is a co-director. The purpose of the Institute is to prepare qualified job seekers with disabilities to compete for mainstream jobs through the Next Big Step initiative; consult with corporations on how to welcome employees with disabilities into their workforce; develop and teach Disability Studies at the university level; and provide education that promotes the use and benefits of universal design in home and community design.
Ms. Starkloff is an expert speaker on Disability Rights issues. In the 1970's, she co-founded Paraquad, Inc. in St. Louis with her husband. As Vice President, she was responsible for educating and training disabled and non-disabled communities on issues related to independent living; developing new program initiatives; coordinating activities that helped in the successful implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); overseeing orientation programs on Independent Living for international visitors; and designing internships for local and international students. She has authored several articles for local, national and international professional journals and newsletters on a disabled person's right to live independently in the community and to have a family.
Ms. Starkloff has served two terms as the United States Organizer of the Japan/USA Conference of Persons with Disabilities, and has served as a member of the Global Summit on Independent Living, working with Asian, Latin and European nations to establish independent living disability rights policies and programs in their countries.
As a Disability Rights advocate, Ms. Starkloff helped establish the Affordable Housing Trust Fund in the City of St. Louis. Money from this Fund, $5,000,000 per year, helps ensure universally designed, affordable housing in St. Louis City. Ms. Starkloff devotes much of her time advocating for the increase of housing opportunities for people with disabilities, the adoption of the Universal Design concept in new housing developments, and total integration of people with disabilities into the community.
In 2005 Ms. Starkloff introduced Disability Studies into the curriculum at Maryville University in St. Louis. She is responsible for developing seven courses on disability rights subjects, including disability history, advocacy, independent living and universal design. She has recruited and has trained teachers with disabilities for course instruction. Maryville University now offers a Rehabilitation Services Certificate Program for graduates of this new curriculum.
Ms. Starkloff is a 1993 graduate of Coro's Women in Leadership Program. She was appointed Commissioner for the St. Louis Affordable Housing Commission in 2001 and served as its founding Chairperson.
The Missouri Commission on Human Rights develops, recommends, and implements ways to prevent and eliminate discrimination and to provide fair and timely resolutions of discrimination claims through enforcement of the Missouri Human Rights Act. The Commission investigates complaints of discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodations based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age (in employment only), and familial status (in housing only). Call 573 751 3325 for information or see the website labor.mo.gov/mohumanrights.
Starkloff Disability Institute (SDI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2003 by Max & Colleen Starkloff and David Newburger. The Starkloff Disability Institute works to change societal attitudes and perceptions about people with disabilities through activities that send a positive message about living with disability in order to create a world that welcomes people with disabilities.
Call 314-588-7090 for information about the Starkloff Disability Institute or see the website www.starkloff.org