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Our Partnership with Starkloff


In 2003, Max and Colleen Starkloff founded the Starkloff Disability Institute (SDI), the mission of which is to help those with disabilities fully participate in our society. With the success of this organization, it has provided assistance to the 18 percent of disabled Americans and has helped reshape societal attitudes and perceptions toward individuals with disabilities. 

Nestlé Purina has built a close partnership with Starkloff, beginning with our Chief Human Resources Officer, Steve Degnan, who has served as a member of the Starkloff Board of Directors since 2010. That same year, Purina was added to Starkloff's list of 'Role Model Companies'. In 2014, Steve was recognized for going above and beyond traditional board service with an 'Outstanding Leadership in the Next Big Step' award. The Nest Big Step is an initiative dedicated to helping those with disabilities find and retain employment. Steve's passion for Starkloff and its larger mission has connected Purina with unique opportunities to help the organization grow and thrive in various hands-on ways. 

"It's often forgotten that diversity includes those with disabilities," Steve said. "We have a strong partnership with Starkloff and I am looking forward to seeing us hire more of qualified applicants with disabilities as part of our efforts on diversity and inclusion." 

As part of our partnership with Starkloff, we gather at Checkerboard Square once a year with area residents who have disabilities to teach best practices of finding employment, led by Mel Kohr, Director, Talent Sourcing. During the session, attendees are presented with guidance for finding a job, which includes developing a strategy, understanding job descriptions, writing résumés, preparing for phone interviews and behaving professionally during the selection process. 

"We believe in the Institute's message and goals," Kohr said. "There are a lot of people out there who are assets to our community who just happen to have a disability. This training session gives them the tools they need to approach the job market and be confident in their skills." 

We embrace diversity of all types as we truly honor our commitment to grow and change in the marketplace.