The Harkin Summit: Innovating for Inclusion

Doubling Disability Employment In A Changing Landscape

Senator Tammy Duckworth speaks while Senator Tom Harkin (retired) looks on during the 2018 Harkin Summit.

In April 2019, the Harkin Summit will host its first international gathering in Paris in partnership with Humanity & Inclusion.

When: April 8-9, 2019
Where: Marriott Champs-Elysees
To Learn More: Visit the 2019 Summit website

The 2018 Harkin Summit was preluded with a panel on the role of higher education in advancing integrated employment for people with disabilities.

As New York City’s 109th mayor, Bill de Blasio is committed to fighting the income inequality that has created a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ across the five boroughs. Mayor de Blasio believes all New Yorkers deserve a chance to succeed in the greatest city on earth. That means every child gets a quality education, every community is safe, and every New Yorker has an affordable place to call home.

Keynote Speaker: Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Senator for Illinois

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was among the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She was elected to the U.S.

LONDON, July 24, 2018 – Today, at the Global Disability Summit, co-hosted by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID) in partnership with the Government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance, the World Bank Group (WBG), along with other Summit participants, announced its set of ten commitments to accelerate global action for disability-inclusive development in key areas such as education, digital developm

The Harkin International Disability Employment Summit concluded with a final dialogue between Senator Tom Harkin and Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. Dr. Kim, who grew up in an Iowa that was represented by Tom Harkin in the United States Senate, attended University of Iowa for a period before transferring and eventually graduating from Brown University. He’d then obtain an M.D.

TWITTER MOMENT: See what people were saying during this panel

The second Harkin Summit continued Friday in Washington D.C., featuring a panel of young people with disabilities to discuss the future of disability employment.

Florence Daunis, director of operations for Handicap International, closed the first day of the 2017 Harkin Summit with remarks on the reality of improving the job market for people with disabilities.

“It’s hard to convince people to hire people with disabilities,” Daunis said. “People are told no for having a disability.”

Judy Heumann, a 68-year veteran of civil rights movements for people with disabilities in the U.S. and the globe, took the stage Thursday night to give closing remarks for day one of the 2nd annual Harkin Summit in Washington D.C.


Randy Lewis, former Walgreens executive and author of the book No Greatness Without Goodness, addressed the Harkin Summit about his storied past of employing individuals with disabilities, and how that experience has shaped both him and the broader culture of his company.

Dr. Johnnetta Cole, principal consultant at Cook Ross Inc. and Director Emerita of Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, started the second day of the 2017 Harkin Summit as the keynote speaker. Dr. Cole opened with an expression of gratitude towards Senator Tom Harkin (Retired) for his work on disability policy, and then continued on to unite the room with her discussion of kinship.

Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft, delivered the keynote address to kick off the 2017 Harkin Summit.

On November 2, 2017 Harkin Summit attendees broke off by their sector to discuss issues that directly pertain to their industry focus. Each sector shared their major takeaways with the assembly to find further points of collaboration.



Ford Foundation President Darren Walker sat down with Sen. Harkin (Ret.) on November 3, 2017. Walker openly discussed the way the Ford Foundation has started to more deliberately integrate individuals with disabilities as a priority within their conversations on diversity.

Video (with captions) of Senator Hassan's remarks.

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) gave opening remarks at the Harkin Summit on November 2, 2017. She shared her family’s involvement with individuals with disabilities as her son has cerebral palsy. This helped to develop Hassan’s passion for public service, which eventually lead to her drive to become a legislator.