Disability Rights Washington’s Breaking Barriers Awards

Each year, Disability Rights Washington presents its Breaking Barriers Awards. These prestigious awards honor one business, one elected official or public servant, and one advocate with a disability for advancing the rights and improving the lives of people with disabilities. Specifically, DRW will be presenting the following awards:

  • Advocacy Award
    • Disability Rights Washington presents this award to an advocate with a disability who has made significant contributions in the past year to advance the rights of people with disabilities in Washington State.
    • Submit nominations here.
  • Public Policy Award
    • Disability Rights Washington presents this award to an elected official or public servant who has made very significant contributions to the rights of people with disabilities in Washington State.
    • Submit nominations here.
  • Business Leader Award
    • Disability Rights Washington presents this award to a business or organization that has made a significant contribution to advancing the rights and/or lives of people with disabilities in Washington State.  The advancement may come in many ways including progressive employment practices, technological advances, and anti-stigma policies and practices. The business must operate in Washington State.
    • Submit nominations here.


Join us on October 2nd and support our award recipients!



Breaking Barriers 2019 Award Recipients

Headshot photo of Jae Kim.

Advocacy Award: Jae Kim

Jae Kim is an advocate for people with disabilities, including herself. As a person with developmental and physical disabilities, she is able to use her first-hand knowledge and experiences to encourage, teach, and motivate individuals and families.

Jae is a graduate student, pursuing a Masters of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Washington. Her goal is to be a transition specialist who supports students with disabilities transitioning into adulthood. Jae is an MSW intern at The Arc of King County where she encourages young people to stop assuming that college and a career are out of their reach. At The Arc Jae co-created and is the primary presenter of a two-hour interactive training presentation, “Disability is Diversity – Strategies for Empowerment.” So far, she has already facilitated 14 of these trainings to over 400 people throughout the community. Past audiences have included Seattle Children’s Hospital, King County Library System, and Woodland Park Zoo. Her work raises awareness, and promotes equity and inclusion for people with disabilities throughout the community.

Jae not only advocates for disability rights at work, but during her free time, as well. Most notably, she had a key role in defeating the straw ban bill. She was the only straw user to meet with Senator Kuderer and explain why plastic straws should not be criminalized, which helped ensure the bill was rewritten. Her passion and tenacity make her a model for other advocates.


Headshot of Leslie Cushman wearing a

Public Policy Award:

Leslie Cushman & the De-Escalate Coalition

Leslie Cushman and the Leadership Team of De-Escalate Washington led a diverse group of advocates that incorporated DRW and the disability perspective into reforms around police use of deadly force in Washington State. The De-Escalate Coalition gathered more than 360,000 signatures in support of Initiative 940. The Leadership Team led the most broad and politically powerful coalition that DRW has ever been a part of and confirmed that we are stronger together.

Leslie is the citizen sponsor of I-940.  Leslie is a community organizer in Olympia, Washington who began working earnestly on police accountability in 2015 after two young Black men were shot by Olympia Police for shoplifting beer. In the aftermath of the Olympia shooting it became apparent that both Washington law and police culture needed serious reform. Leslie, the Black Alliance of Thurston County, and a large grassroots coalition of community organizations, families, Tribes, civil rights organizations, and others worked in the 2016 legislature to put in place a joint legislative task force on the use of deadly force. The task force resulted in recommendations for training, changing the legal standard for use of deadly force, investigations, and data – yet not all recommendations were broadly supported by the task force, which consisted of legislators, prosecutors, law enforcement, and community organizations. The community pushed forward in 2017 with I-940, an initiative to the legislature, which received 60% of the vote state-wide in November 2018.

I-940 focuses on five key things, and addresses Washington’s unique statute and statistics – Washington was fifth in the nation for use of deadly force in 2017, and about one-third of all persons killed by police were experiencing a mental health crisis. I-940 requires state-wide de-escalation and mental health training, requires first aid be rendered on the scene, removes the de facto immunity for excessive use of deadly force, requires independent investigations, mandates notification of Native American Tribes when a tribal member is killed or injured by police, and directs the Criminal Justice Training Commission to consult with communities directly impacted by police use of force, including persons with disabilities.

The Campaign Team members:  Leslie Cushman, Citizen Sponsor, Chester Earl, Justice For Jackie, Stephanie Ervin, Civic Ventures, Loretta Gutierrez-Sacks, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Monisha Harrell, Equal Rights Washington, Alison Holcomb, ACLU Washington, Chris Lampkin, SEIU 1199NW, Ali Lee, International District, Fe Lopez, One America, Nina Martinez, Latino Civic Alliance, Xochitl Maykovich, Washington CAN, Kim Mosolf, Disability Rights Washington, Tim Reynon, Puyallup Tribal Council Member, James Rideout, Justice for Jackie, Larry Shannon, Washington State Association for Justice, Lisa Daugaard, Public Defender Association, Andre Taylor, Not This Time, Heather Villanueva, SEIU 775, Linh Thai, Vietnamese Community Leadership Institute.


Photo of Chehalis Grocery Outlet employees gathered inside of the store.

Business Leader Award:

Chehalis Grocery Outlet

Chehalis Grocery Outlet is a locally owned and operated grocery store serving the Chehalis community with personalized customer service, brands people love, and low prices.  Michael Morgan and Nicole Barnes are in their sixth year owning and operating the store. They have built an environment where employees with disabilities have an inclusive place to work, where everyone is treated with respect, and where everyone has an opportunity for growth. Customers with disabilities have a place to shop where inclusion is a culture. They lead by example and speak publicly to encourage other businesses.

One of their core beliefs is that everyone, regardless of ability, has a path that when found yields self-worth, builds self-confidence and self-esteem, brings joy and fulfillment, and can lead to establishing financial independence. They help all their employees find their path by experiencing different positions to discover skills and interests, and finding the right job that benefits both the employee and the store. Many of their staff have never had an opportunity to work with individuals with disabilities before coming to Chehalis Grocery Outlet. Though they may lack experience, interaction, and formal training, they enthusiastically embrace their roles as co-worker, mentor, coach, teacher, advocate, and leader. The most beautiful part of this process? They have eight amazing individuals on staff who have helped to transform forty two others, and together have successfully helped to create a new normal of inclusion within the business and ultimately within the community.

At the Chehalis Grocery Outlet they recognize that to truly break down barriers for individuals with disabilities, they must create an environment of inclusion without condition, moving beyond to cultivate an environment where people do not see “disabilities,” only possibilities. They work tirelessly to dispel the “myth” that individuals with disabilities in some instances are not as “productive” as others. They also recognize that their employees with disabilities enrich the lives of whomever they come into contact.

Chehalis Grocery Outlet partners with local organizations, most notably the Lewis County Autism Coalition with whom they work closely in support of community inclusion. They actively provide financial support through sponsorships to organizations whose mission is to raise awareness around the need to engage those with disabilities in our community, connect them to meaningful employers, and provide support and direction to them during the on-boarding process. In addition, they have fostered partnerships with Morningside, Reliable Enterprises and Washington Job Placement Services – all of which advocate within the community and cultivate opportunities for people with disabilities. Finally, they actively engage working parents who have children with disabilities.

For Nicole and Michael, it’s simple. “Open doors into your business for others be they community advocacy groups, non-profits who work to place individuals with disabilities, or other community-based organizations. Listen to them. Understand the need. Do right; analyze later. Hire hearts and minds. Invest in people. Be a champion of something. Defend fiercely. Treat everyone with dignity and respect.”


Lifetime Achievement Award:

Toby Olson

Toby Olson was a powerful advocate for disability rights in Washington State. Appointed in 1987 to head the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment, Toby established himself as a powerful, eloquent and effective voice for disability rights and justice. In his 31 years of state service, he helped to pass approximately 40 laws to expand rights in the areas of housing, employment, and civil rights.

The disability rights movement lost a giant last December when Toby Olson passed away. He was recognized as a leader not only in Washington State, but across the nation. He was closely involved with the advocates who drafted the Americans with Disabilities Act and in subsequent work on regulations and implementation of the law.

Toby was a reliable source of information for policymakers and advocates seeking information and thoughtful advice on disability-related issues. He worked hard to elevate the conversations around disability, and raised the expectations for other public servants and elected officials to join in the conversation and make change happen.

Toby was a longtime and consistent friend and supporter of Disability Rights Washington. While we are sad to be awarding him with this much deserved award posthumously, we know that his impact and work with the disability community will never be forgotten. Accepting this award are his wife of 30 years Rhonda Brown and their son, Averill.

2018 Award Recipients

The following recipients of the Breaking Barriers Awards were honored at Disability Rights Washington’s 4th Annual celebration, “Breaking Barriers,” on September 29, 2018.

Portrait of Shaun Bickley2018 Advocacy Award: Shaun Bickley

Shaun Bickley is an Autistic disability justice activist. They are the Co-Chair of the Seattle Disability Commission.  This past year, Shaun led the SDC in organizing the country’s first successful campaign to ban subminimum wage at the City level.  In the spring of 2018, the City of Seattle changed its municipal code by removing the authority to pay less than the minimum wage to individuals based on age or disability.  Now all workers in Seattle have the right to earn no less than minimum wage.   Shaun also helped ensure subminimum wage workers across the state would receive the protections of other labor laws, and has helped address implicit bias within the SDC itself.

Labeled a “special ed kid,” Shaun was constantly told they would never be employable. They got their first job in secret at the age of 18, against the wishes of their family, leading to a passion for employment as a way out of poverty. Prior to moving to Seattle, Shaun directed self-advocacy training to over 1100 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Texas institutions and communities.  They have traveled around the country to speak on diverse issues such as disability history, employment, and eugenics. Shaun was an IL Specialist at the Alliance of People with Disabilities during their work on subminimum wage, and now works for the Advocacy team at the Arc of King County.

Shaun is the Secretary of Self-Advocates in Leadership, a Board member of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, and mentors youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound.  Within the Seattle Disability Commission, Shaun chairs the Public Safety committee and facilitates community members to work around issues of police reform, the opioid crisis, and support for sex workers.  They are a 2012 graduate of the Midwest Academy Organizing for Social Change, where they learned the skills that have led to their success as an organizer. Shaun believes in using organizing as a bridge between disabled communities and LGBTQ people, people of color, workers, and others.

Portrait of Roger Goodman2018 Public Policy Award: Representative Roger Goodman

Representative Roger Goodman is completing his sixth term in the Washington State Legislature, representing the 45th District, which includes the Seattle suburbs of Kirkland and Redmond.  Representative Goodman is Chair of the House Public Safety Committee, with oversight of the criminal justice system. He is also a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee. DRW recognizes Representative Goodman this year for his vitally important public policy work in addressing policing and mass incarceration, issues that disproportionately impact communities of color and people with disabilities.

In 2016, Representative Goodman led a joint legislative task force–of which Disability Rights Washington was a member–that examined police training and response and the standards for accountability following the use of deadly force. Due in large part to Representative Goodman’s work, during the 2017 legislative session the House Public Safety Committee advocated for many recommendations issued by the task force. Later, those same recommendations were championed by De-escalate Washington, a diverse stakeholder group that spearheaded Initiative 940 to put changes to police accountability on the ballot. Despite the anticipated difficulties in finding common ground between De-escalate Washington and statewide law enforcement groups, Representative Goodman was instrumental in bringing both sides to the table to reach agreement on controversial issues. His dedication continued through his work with House and Senate leadership to get this proposed language through the legislature in the final days of session.

Last session, Representative Goodman also worked closely with the Coalition for an Independent Corrections Ombuds, a group that includes formerly incarcerated people, family members of incarcerated people, community advocates, and faith-based organizations to create an independent corrections ombuds in Washington. Now, after ten years of advocacy, a Corrections Ombuds Office will be established within the Office of the Governor to provide much-needed oversight in our state prisons and assistance to incarcerated people and their families. We recognize and honor Representative Goodman’s ongoing work to divert people with disabilities from the criminal justice system and to improve the lives of people affected by that system, including disabled Washingtonians.

2018 Business Leader Award: MOD Pizza

MOD Pizza was founded in Seattle in 2008 and now has over 345 locations across the US and UK.  As a pioneer of fast casual pizza, MOD has changed the way that people experience pizza. However, it is most proud of its mission to make a difference in local communities through “Spreading MODness: the ripple effect of simply doing the right thing.”  By seeing the potential in everyone, MOD is using its business as a platform to make a positive social impact.

MOD Pizza hires a diverse workforce that includes people with all abilities, previously incarcerated people, and people with no job history or who are seeking re-entry to the workforce.  They have demonstrated this commitment by building jobs around the strengths of an individual, creating opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to demonstrate their full competence and contribute to the success of MOD Pizza.  Providing meaningful employment to those who need it most is what feeds MOD’s culture and its commitment to making a difference wherever they can.

MOD Pizza is a thriving business, and, through its hiring practices and culture, models that inclusive workforces are an element of success.   MOD Pizza is honored for its business practices that embrace its inclusive community.  At MOD, “Spreading MODness” means a lot of things, but mostly it means treating its employees (AKA, the MOD Squad) right.  By putting people first, MOD Pizza strives to be a force for positive change in their lives and the communities it serves.  Its ethos is deeply rooted in acceptance, opportunity and development.  The result?  An amazing spirit of individuality, teamwork and service has emerged, and their culture of doing good is catching on!

2018 Special ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award: Marie Jubie

Throughout her life, Marie Jubie has been a fierce advocate fighting for the civil rights of people of color, women, and people with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues. Marie developed her passion for disability rights advocacy at a young age when her brother, Paul, experienced a brain injury at birth. Although he has since passed away, Marie continues to advocate in honor of Paul.

Since her initial introduction to legislative advocacy during her employment at Sunrise Services Inc., Marie has traveled to Olympia each session for a quarter-century. Marie is a leading voice for the rights of people with psychiatric and intellectual disabilities.  Last year, she helped pass legislation creating the Office of Correction Ombuds.  She is in Olympia at least once a week distributing information sheets, chatting up legislative assistants and legislators, and encouraging all she speaks with to consider the impact on people with disabilities in every policy decision they make.

In addition, Marie was a key advocate in DRW’s efforts to educate legislators about conditions in the institutions for people with developmental disabilities. Marie distributed postcards filled out by legislators’ constituents asking for the closure of Rainier, a state run institution serving people with developmental disabilities.  Again, Marie put a human face on the story by talking with legislative aides about her own experience with institutions.  Marie’s brother Paul choked to death some forty years ago at Fircrest, another institution for people with developmental disabilities, in an incident closely resembling another death at Rainier last year.

Marie is a leading advocate in her community. She helped secure grants to improve the lives of people with disabilities, including four grants from Snohomish County to fund ADA compliance. Marie is active on boards and committees. Past membership includes Snohomish County Council on Aging and the Snohomish County Mental Health Advisory Board, where she served as President. Marie’s current appointments include the Snohomish County Jail Citizen Advisory Group, ADA Pedestrian Right of Way Advisory Committee (ADAPROW), the North Sound Behavioral Health Organization Advisory Board, and the Disability Rights Washington Board of Directors.

Marie is a fierce and effective advocate for policy changes to improve the lives of people with disabilities, voting rights protections, tenant rights, and accessible transportation. Disability Rights Washington honors her lifetime of passion, dedication, patience, and commitment to disability rights and to ensuring that policy makers understand the real, personal impact of their decisions.

2017 Award Recipients 

2017 Advocacy Award: Mike Raymond

2017 Business Leader Award: Microsoft’s Real Estate & Facilities Supported Employment Program

2017 Public Policy Award: Shirley Bondon