No matter where our employees are, we all work towards one goal: to champion the right of people of all abilities to work and communicate effectively. We have a core team that works at our Applied Development headquarters in Baltimore. They support our many clients and staff members working on client sites. However, many of our program staff work directly with clients, providing services on a daily basis at offices across the country. As our Senior Project Manager and Senior Disability Expert, Judith Davis ensures that our mission isn’t just something we talk about in Baltimore, but something we implement in the field.
Judith joined the Applied Development team in July of 2018 after an extensive career in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) and disability program space. Originally from Ethiopia, Judith grew passionate about diversity, disabilities, and inclusion when she first moved to Germany in elementary school. “My life and career always brought me back to that work,” she says.
Since moving to the United States, Judith has worked for government contractors in D&I and Disability program management. Even when her work wasn’t directly in those fields, she says she used her voice to grow D&I and disability recruitment and retention. “It has been a rewarding experience, but we still have a way to go,” she says. Although many companies talk specifically about being inclusive of people with disabilities in the workplace the National Organization on Disability found that only 13% of companies surveyed reached the Department of Labor’s target of 7% disability representation in the workforce. Judith is proud to be part of increasing that number and making a difference, even if it sometimes presents challenges.
Applied Development was a natural fit for Judith’s passion for her work. The way our CEO Kimberly Citizen related our mission and vision was authentic, and, “It resonated with my personal core values,” says Judith. “I left the first interview with a smile on my face, no matter whether I was going to be invited to join AD or not,” she adds.
Judith currently works as the team lead/ program manager for two teams. At the Department of Defense’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Disability Policy, her team helps provide oversight and guidance for all things related to disability policies. At the Defense Human Resource Activity, Diversity Management Operations Center, her team is responsible for implementing and operationalizing disability programs, specifically the Workforce Recruitment Program. This internship program helps place current college students and recent graduates with verifiable disabilities in Department of Defense jobs.
In this work, she says her team experiences success stories on a daily basis. “Former interns gain meaningful, permanent employment within the field they either went to school for or were trained in,” she says. “They stay in touch and turn into advocates and ambassadors for the cause.”
She also sees how Applied Development’s work changes how government agencies understand this work on the whole. “To see buy-in for promoting employment for individuals with disabilities based on my team’s work has continued to make it worthwhile,” she says. Her team builds collaborative relationships and dialogue with the stakeholders to build receptiveness, positive outcomes, and long-term results.
Applied Development’s mission resonates with Judith, from her belief in inclusion to her personal experiences with volunteering and community service in a variety of places around the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore area. The work from her and her team will continue to ensure that people of all abilities can work and communicate effectively.