2021 Honorees


Photo of Congresswoman Lisa Blunt RochesterCongresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester represents Delaware in the U.S. House of Representatives and serves as an Assistant Whip for House Leadership. Lisa sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce which has jurisdiction over a broad range of health, environment, and economic issues. As founder of the Congressional Future of Work Caucus, she is a leading voice in Congress on future of work-related issues.

Before being elected to Congress in 2016, she served in the cabinets of two Delaware governors as Secretary of Labor and as State Personnel Director. Lisa previously served as the Deputy Secretary of the Delaware State Department of Health and Social Services during her time in state government.

Lisa also served as Senior Executive Leadership and Systems Manager for the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston and as CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League – an action-oriented, public policy research think-tank.

Lisa graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with a degree in International Relations and put herself through graduate school as a working mom – earning a master’s degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware.


Photo of Karen IrickKaren Irick is the parent of an adult daughter with a significant developmental disability.  She has been employed with the University of South Carolina Center for Disability Resources, a University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities, for the past thirty years.  She serves in the roles of Program Coordinator of the UCEDD’s Consumer Advisory Council, known as COCA, and the SC LEND Family Faculty.

Ms. Irick has extensive experience in the areas of family support, disability inclusion, family and professional partnerships, early-intervention, family-centered care, information dissemination, and outreach to underserved groups.

She is a nationally trained certified train-the-trainer in national service disability inclusion and family support.  She earned a certificate of completion in working effectively with Native American Tribal Governments.

In 1998, Ms. Irick was a finalist for the prestigious Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Public Policy Fellowship.  Since 1995, she has participated on UCEDD and Head Start monitoring and technical assistance site visits and federal monitoring and grant review teams for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Administration for Children and Families, and for the U.S. Department of Education.  She has presented at national and state conferences and has received national recognition for innovative and best practice techniques for involving people with disabilities as advisors.  She has held, and continue to hold leadership positions on national, state, and local organizations.