Stephen R. Wise Advocacy Award Winner
Jessica Dollard and Lori Fahey Honored with
Stephen R. Wise Advocacy Award for 2023
Lori Fahey had a dream of what could be and then she dedicated her life’s work to realizing that dream. Lori founded The Family Café, which hosts the largest cross-disability event in the nation. The Annual Family Café brings together Floridians with all types of disabilities for three days of information, training, and networking.
The 25th Anniversary Family Café event occurred in June of 2023. Lori and The Family Café continue to provide unprecedented access to policymaking officials for persons with disabilities and their families at no cost and a chance to network with leading state agency leadership, companies and employers. The Family Café has also worked to extend its model of collaboration, advocacy, friendship and empowerment to youth with disabilities in Florida through it Florida Youth Council (FYC). The FYC is a group of emerging leaders with disabilities who model leadership and advocacy among their transition-age peers across Florida. Through Lori’s devotion to serving others, the lives of literally thousands of persons with disabilities have been improved.
Jessica Dollard found her calling working with Florida’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She began her career at VR as a technician and then became a VR counselor in 2015. Her dedication to serving others, work habits, accountability and focus on understanding the needs of her customers has led to many persons with disabilities achieving high quality employment outcomes, greater financial independence and integration in their communities. In her work as a VR counselor and consultant, Jessica was always willing to collaborate to promote successful outcomes. Now as a unit supervisor, Jessica shares that same skill set, guidance and encouragement with her team with great results. Jessica routinely volunteers to go out into the community to provide community partners with information about the VR program. She conducts orientation sessions with individuals and groups that are not familiar with the division, and actively seeks opportunities on her own to market the benefits of VR services. Jessica is a dedicated advocate for hiring VR customers in the area and she continues to serve her community and promote the highest values and traits of a rehabilitation professional.