News & Events

NEWS | CBLN Event Highlights Opportunities to Increase Employment for Workers with Disabilities

May 2, 2018

The CBLN, in partnership with Grant Thornton and the Great Lakes ADA Center, hosted more than 60 representatives from Chicago-area businesses and local disability organizations for a breakfast program at Grant Thornton’s downtown offices on May 1st. The program, entitled Disability Employment Policy in the Current Political Climate, was moderated by Robin Jones, Director of Great Lakes ADA Center, and included a conversation between Andy Imparato, Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and Jack Lavin, President & CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. The candid discussion about the impact of disability policy initiatives within today’s federal and state political climates highlighted some successes as well as opportunities for future policy development to promote employment for workers with disabilities. It also led to a robust discussion about local efforts that support disability employment. Photos from the event can be found online here. Following the event, Andy Imparato and CBLN Director Laura Wilhelm, spoke more on this topic during an interview with Steve Bertrand on WGN Radio’s Wintrust Business Lunch segment. You can hear the full interview online here.

EVENT | Discussion on Disability Employment Policy in the Current Political Climate

April 11, 2018

Join the CBLN and Great Lakes ADA Center for a discussion on Disability Employment Policy in the Current Political Climate.  The event, hosted by CBLN member Grant Thornton at 171 N. Clark St. on May 1st from 8:00 – 10:00 am, will include a candid conversation on the status of disability employment policy initiatives with national expert Andy Imparato, Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) and Jack Lavin, President & CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Additional information and registration details are available online here.

NEWS | CBLN Board Member Elected to the USBLN Board of Directors

January 9, 2018

Congratulations to CBLN Board member Scott Hoesman of inQUEST Consulting who was elected to the USBLN Board of Directors last month as the Board’s Affiliate Liaison. Scott will serve a two year term in this role, offering a new opportunity for the CBLN to help represent the larger Affiliate community. We look forward to working with Scott over the next few years in this new role.

NEWS | The 3rd Annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit is a Success!

October 30, 2017

On Friday, October 13th, the CBLN hosted its 3rd Annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois in Chicago. The sold-out, day-long conference brought together nearly 250 business leaders, talent acquisition, human resources and diversity & inclusion professionals. U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth served as Keynote speaker at the event; the program also included sessions on timely topics such as: prioritizing disability within a larger D&I strategy; working after an acquired disability; and using BRGs to influence cultural change for workers with disabilities inside an organization and in the external marketplace. Representatives from CBLN member companies including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Northern Trust, EY, KPMG, Deloitte, Grant Thornton, Discover, Allstate, and CDW shared their experiences in panel presentations and breakout discussions. Read more about the event and see photos online here.

NEWS | CBLN Hosts Northbrook Luncheon with State Sen. Julie Morrison and Rep. Michelle Mussman

July 27, 2017

On July 27, the CBLN joined Illinois state Senator Julie Morrison and state Representative Michelle Mussman in hosting a luncheon for businesses in their districts (the northwest suburbs). Twelve representatives from seven different area businesses discussed disability inclusion over lunch at Pinstripes Restaurant in Northbrook. Sen. Morrison shared her experiences as the Co-Chair of the Illinois General Assembly’s Special Needs Caucus in working toward inclusion. This was the CBLN’s first opportunity to engage businesses in the northwest suburbs in a discussion on inclusion within their organizations. We look forward to continuing the conversation!

News | CBLN Joins Mayoral Task Force on Employment & Economic Development for People with Disabilities

June 28, 2017

The CBLN was recently asked to join a new Mayoral Task Force on Employment & Economic Development for People with Disabilities, facilitated by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.  The City of Chicago plays a critical role in addressing the employment gap between people with and without disabilities and the Task Force, comprised of stakeholders, employment experts and City departments, will advise the City on ways to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Through its relationships with these stakeholders, the City can address many of the existing barriers to employment facing the disability community by: encouraging economic development through entrepreneurship; facilitating alignment between job training, referrals, employers and service providers; facilitating greater preparation of students in higher education for careers; and examining City/County policies that promote and/or discourage employment. Learn more about the Task Force online here.

News | CBLN Forges New Disability Business Growth Initiative with USBLN and Wells Fargo

May 9, 2017

Earlier this year, the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN®) launched the USBLN Affiliate Supplier Diversity Initiative, enlisting affiliates to design and implement proactive strategies to build awareness and increase utilization of disability-owned businesses in local communities.

We are excited to announce Wells Fargo, a USBLN Corporate Partner and Founding Partner of the USBLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP®), will provide generous financial support to aid these efforts with a grant to the CBLN. The CBLN is one of only seven USBLN affiliates to receive this grant which will help local communities embrace the idea of self-employment and entrepreneurship as another clear path to economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities, as well as attract companies who are looking to further diversity their supply chain. It will help the CBLN grow supplier diversity programming within its BLN, as well as identify local disability-owned businesses who may be eligible to apply for USBLN certification as a Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE®) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise (SDV-DOBE™).

The CBLN looks forward to working with the USBLN and Wells Fargo to create more economic opportunities for people with disabilities and their full inclusion in the workforce, marketplace and supply chain. For more information contact Laura Wilhelm (

News | CBLN’s Neurodiversity in the Workplace Event Engages Chicago Businesses in Discussions on Hiring and Employing Workers with Neurological Differences

April 28th, 2017

The CBLN, in partnership with Argosy University and the Schaumburg Business Association, hosted more than 30 representatives from Chicago businesses at a breakfast program in Schaumburg on April 27th entitled – Neurodiversity in the Workplace: Attracting and Supporting Workers with Neurological Differences. During the event, Dr. Cameron Brewer and Dr. Julie Robinson from Argosy University, shared information on the types of conditions that can constitute a neurological disability as well as actionable information on how to recruit, hire and retain qualified candidates with neurological differences. In particular, they offered strategies for interviewing candidates with acquired brain injuries and autism, and shared guidance on supporting neurodiverse  workers within an organization’s existing corporate culture. Their presentations led to a robust discussion on autism in the workplace and the complexities surrounding the decision to disclose a disability.

The event’s materials are now available below:

News | Northern Trust Hosts Panel Discussion on Global Aspects of Disability

December 7th, 2016

The CBLN wrapped up its programming in 2016 by partnering with Northern Trust on a December 1st panel discussion on the Global Aspects of Disability. Over 60 participants from CBLN partner businesses attended this thought-provoking discussion on disability inclusion across the globe.

CBLN Dec News Story

Connie Lindsey, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity & Inclusion at Northern Trust, kicked off the event. A panel presentation followed featuring presentations by Sarah Parker Harris, PhD, Pia Justesen PhD, and Robert Gould PhD, from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Disability and Human Development.

The presentation led to a robust discussion among panelists and attendees highlighting topics relevant to Chicago area businesses that are building disability inclusion into their international organizations.

News | CBLN’s Second Annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit is a Success!

October 22, 2016

On October 21st, the CBLN hosted the Second Annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit at BlueCross BlueShield in downtown Chicago. The energy and enthusiasm of the event’s 220 participants led to lively discussions throughout the day.

Attendees included human resource, talent acquisition, and diversity and inclusion professionals from companies including: Allstate, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, BMO Harris, Deloitte, Discover, EY, KPMG, Northern Trust, and Walgreens.  Attendees participated in plenary and breakout sessions on topics including: disrupting individual bias, sourcing college students with disabilities, promoting self-identification, and building a disability BRG/ERG.

The USBLN’s November blog featured an article on the Opportunity Summit. To see the event’s photos, click here.

CBLN 2016 Inclusion Summit

Events | Awakening the Autism Entrepreneur Workshop

September 14, 2016

You’re invited to attend “The Awakening the Autism Entrepreneur Workshop,” taking place on Friday, September 16th and Saturday, September 17th at St. James Commons at the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in the Grand Hall.

This 1 day workshop is supported by both the Nogwog (No Greatness Without Goodness) Disability Initiative as well as Have Dreams – two organizations dedicated to  empowering individuals with autism as well as disability inclusionin the workplace. Attend either day for sessions led by entrepreneurs that have started businesses with the intention to employ individuals with autism.

The Awakening the Autism Entrepreneur Workshop will take place either The registration fee of $15 includes a box lunch and refreshments. For more information or to register, click here.


News | Beyond Accommodation: Mental Health in the Workplace

March 31, 2016

CBLN microsite Mental 2National leaders came together for an inspiring and practical discussion about effective strategies to accommodate individuals with mental illness/addiction, as well as to help create a healthy, stigma-free workplace that improves performance and wellness for all employees.

See More Photos

News | Chicago Community Trust Renews Chicagoland Chamber Foundation Grant

February 8, 2016

Chicago, IL – Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust has officially renewed its commitment to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation by committing $100,000 to support its Chicagoland Business Leadership Network (CBLN) program.

The CBLN is Illinois’ only business-led, business-focused organization that addresses specific needs relating to the inclusion of people with disabilities from a talent, customer, supplier diversity and community perspective. The CBLN serves as the bridge between businesses and people with disabilities, providing the robust educational programming, actionable information and resources, best practices, and constructive networking opportunities that enable greater disability inclusion.

Read the full press release.

News | Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit

On November 17, a group of more than 275 community leaders, business leaders, and professionals in the fields of human resources, talent acquisition, and diversity and inclusion joined us at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois in Chicago at the 1st annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit.

The spectacular view of Lake Michigan from 30th floor of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield building was a fitting backdrop for this historic inaugural event, which was designed to help employers drive performance and gain competitive advantage through the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace, supply chain as well as the marketplace.

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