Susan Gjolmesli, the longtime director of Bellevue College’s Disability Resource Center, was presented with the Governor’s Trophy in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown during a reception on campus yesterday, attended by her colleagues, friends, family, and others in the community. The award, given by the Washington State Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment (GCDE), is the highest honor the state bestows on a citizen working on behalf of persons with disabilities.
According to a recent announcement, Gjolmesli received the award for significantly enhancing the empowerment of persons with disabilities in the community and workforce. The Trophy is part of the Governor’s Employer Awards Program, which honors employers that have demonstrated exemplary practices to recruit, retain and promote individuals with disabilities in Washington state. Gjolmesli was also honored at a ceremony in Olympia, Wash. on Wednesday, Jan. 23 for all award recipients.
“We’re tremendously proud of Susan and all that she has accomplished in her career to help those with disabilities, including thousands of students who have attended Bellevue College during her time here. She really has touched the lives of so many people, and helped to ensure they have the resources they need to be successful,” said David L. Rule, Ph.D., president of Bellevue College.
In addition to leading BC’s Disability Resource Center for 18 years, Gjolmesli’s 30 years of experience in the field include co-founding a resource and referral non-profit agency in the Seattle area and working for the Department of Services for the Blind of Washington State, a vocational rehabilitation agency.
Gjolmesli, who has been such a strong advocate for persons with disabilities, has a disability of her own. She was born with a degenerative eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa. Her sight became progressively worse throughout her life until 10 years ago, when she lost all ability to see after a severe case of influenza.
Photos from the reception can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bellevuecollege/sets/72157632606925279/.