Conference Happenings!

Monday Morning Wellness Activity – December 11, 6:30am-7:30am

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), located in San Antonio, is a long-time supporter of SoACE.  SwRI

operates a full-service onsite fitness center as a benefit for its employees.  SwRI wants to provide one of their amazing group exercise instructors for the Monday Morning Wellness Activity.  At no additional costs, you are welcome to join your colleagues for a low-impact cardio session.  We are looking forward to this morning workout and getting our metabolism off to a great start.

Fun Run – December 12, 6:30am-7:30am

If you’re ready to start your day right with a run or walk along San Antonio’s beautiful river walk, then make plans to attend the SoACE Fun Run/Walk on Tuesday, December 12, at 6:30 am.  Our group will meet by the coffee shop in the lobby and will leave the hotel at 6:30 sharp.

We will cross East Commerce street once out of the hotel and take the stairs down to the river walk.  We will follow an out-and-back path for a 3 mile total distance, but feel free to shorten or lengthen your distance as needed.  The river walk path is paved for several miles.  This map  gives you an idea of the location.  For reference, our starting location is at the top of the page near the Rivercenter Mall.


This year, the first 10 fun-run registrants will receive a free fun-run t-shirt! If you have any questions about the fun-run, please contact Charlie Wilder at


Tuesday Evening Event – Night in Old San Antonio featuring The Spazmatics – December 12, 6:30pm-10:30pm

The 2017 Tuesday Night Event will showcase the rich history of San Antonio by recreating an annual

festival called “Night in Old San Antonio” (NIOSA).  NIOSA (nI-oh-Sah) blends Texan and Mexican

cultures for a memorable night under the Texas stars.  You will enjoy an authentic atmosphere of the best that San Antonio has to offer.  Your money or tickets will not be good at this event…just bring your name badge and your Tuesday Night Evening ticket.  To top it all, we will have The Spazmatics for entertainment.

The Spazmatics will play hits from the 80s and will keep us pumped up throughout the night even if you don’t remember when the Rubik’s Cube came out or watched “Back to the Future” in a movie theater.


Reflections from our 10th President – Mary Mahoney

It has been fun and informative to read reflections from those who have served as President of SoACE over the last 10 years. For me, having served as your President in 2016-2017, it has been an honor and privilege to be a part of such an esteemed association and colleagues. Being in SoACE is being a part of a larger family who shares your daily challenges, frustrations and rewards. It’s having colleagues you can reach out to and say, “How did you handle this?” and know all are willing to share whatever information, experiences or suggestions they may have.

Reflecting on the upcoming 10th anniversary of SoACE takes me back even further in time. I have been around for quite a while and remember the decision to merge two organizations to form a new, larger association with a shared vision and passion to serve our career center and employer HR/college relations members.  I remember the apprehension of leaving behind an association that existed for over 50 years and itself been through many changes. I needed to learn another new name and acronym. Over the years I have been a part of SCPA (Southern College Placement Association) which I joined in the early 90’s; from there we changed our name to SACE (Southern Association of Colleges and Employers). The name changes were reflective of the path that NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) took over the years.

The first Conference Committee had strong intentions of being inclusive of values and incorporating fun things from each association, so we chose to have dual representatives: one person from each of the previous SWACE and SACE associations. I fondly remember planning meetings held at the Hyatt Regency on the Riverwalk and the lasting friendships that were made. It was a large committee but one that wanted to be sure the first SoACE Conference was one to be remembered and one which would set the tone for the future of the new association. I believe we had close to 700 attendees at that Conference. An amazing Conference, amazing time and many amazing new friends. I still, to this day, reach out to those friends and colleagues for their professional opinions and personal friendships.

So many memories and so many places we have met over these 10 years: exploring Disney, riding the monorail and partying at the Animal Kingdom; dancing at the Opryland Hotel and meeting Dolly (yes, she was an impersonator but it was fun!); deep dive fun at the aquarium in Dallas; dancing on the beach in St. Petersburg; another Riverwalk but in Savannah; SnowACE in Chantilly, Virginia; bats in Austin and cruising on a yacht in Ft. Lauderdale. What a 10 years we have had! I can only hope that as we begin our next 10 years we will continue to grow and develop lasting relationships—both professional and personal. I’m looking forward to seeing  you all in San Antonio – renewing friendships and making new friends. See you all soon!

Mary Mahoney, SoACE Past-President 2017-2018

Helping Students with disABILITIES -Kevin McCloskey & Dr. Amanda L. Walker

As the Director of Partnership Development with Disability Solutions, I take on a dual role when assisting our clients with their goal of hiring individuals with disabilities. I often hear companies say they do not know where to start as they begin a hiring initiative. This sentiment is completely understandable when there are often over 50 groups in their community serving jobseekers with disabilities. On the flipside, the community partners struggle to connect with the employer and get their foot in the door to discuss what programs they offer and the talent they work with. Although both have the same goal (employment for people with disabilities), things tend to get lost in translation due to language barriers: business language vs. social services language. My job, and that of my team, is to bridge that gap and help our clients hire the best person for the job who just so happens to have a disability. In order to do this, both sides have to be prepared.

There are four steps that go into preparing the employer.  The first is that you have to learn about our client, the employer, inside and out.  The second is to host an interactive training that is open and honest, helping to dispel common fears and stigmas that can come with working with individuals with disabilities.  Then, community outreach and creating partnerships with organizations serving jobseekers with disabilities becomes necessary.  Finally, you need to the build the bridge between the organizations identified and the businesses looking to connect.


In the past (and actually to this day), community partners have a difficult, and at times, unforgiving job placing individuals with barriers in positions. As a result, they have relied on the old Beg, Place and Pray model:Beg a company to hire an individual on their caseload, Place the individual in that position (hired!), Then pray to the powers that be that it all works out. “Placements” yes but “success” no.

Before I reach out to any community organization and/or refer a jobseeker to an employer, I make sure I know the business and what type of employee the business is looking for. When working with our clients and partners, we make sure the partners know business culture, language, expectations (it is not social services!), job requirements and necessary qualifications, and qualities of successful employees.

Much like any relationship, the ability to understand where the other person is coming from is critical. Once the connection with the CBO is made and the bridge is built, they will readily learn the ins and outs of your business so the most qualified candidates can be referred, and ideally hired. Most importantly, do not be afraid of failure. Not every referral will work out. Not everyone is the right fit for the job. If a goal is not met as quickly as you had intended, understand why and use those lessons to learn and improve. Keep in mind all relationships are built on trust, communication, and reciprocity.

At the collegiate level, the key to any great communication plan is developing internal (on-campus) and external partners (off-campus). Employers and organizations do the same thing in order to identify their stakeholders or consumers. Often they are seeking out these partners to better assist students and alumni reach success in the work world. Employers and community partners must brand or promote their program or initiative to colleges and universities. You cannot assume that one press release about your program has managed to reach all individuals engaged in workforce opportunities or all college and university faculty and staff that assist students in workforce opportunities. A company could have an outstanding program for individuals with disabilities but if no one knows about it, then it’s likely that it would not be a successful or highly utilized program.

Once employers have engaged the campus community leaders and workforce related faculty/staff, those campus leaders must then begin the process of sharing the opportunities with students and alumni. One-on-one advising sessions could provide more information on such employer programs or initiatives that help students transition to the world of work. Employer information sessions, could allow employer engagement with students that fit the criteria for the program and would also allow for students to better understand what they would get from participating in the program. More importantly, it allows for advisors to provide more resources that are focusing assisting students with physical or mental disabilities to become even more engaged in the workforce than ever before. It’s a very exciting time for individuals that have been thought of as having limited opportunities in the workforce.



Career Services staff can also connect employers with external partners. One example of an external partner may include workforce development or city/state Career Center officials within the city or region. It’s their job to know of any specialized programs that could help more individuals obtain work. In addition, Vocational Rehab Programs, would also be a great external partner to share program or employer initiative. Vocational Rehab programs focus on placing individuals into workplace opportunities that may have been challenging due to a disability or past experience with trauma.

Overall, colleges and universities can serve in two roles to assist companies or organizations that have great programs or initiatives for students or alumni with disabilities. First, they can help identify a population in which they serve that would need programs that assist students with disabilities obtain quality work. And, second, they could also help any said organization recruit talent to fill any said job opportunities. Furthermore, most college and university career services staff usually can assist in helping the employer develop a network with the city/state that provides services for students with disabilities.

In closing, whether you are an employer who finds this opportunity unique and of interest to you or whether you are a member of career services or disability services staff at a college or university, it’s a great opportunity to find out about any new resources or job training programs that can assist in further developing opportunities for students and alumni that have one or more physical or mental disabilities.

If you would like more information on employers with training programs or if you are interested in developing training programs on campus for your students/alumni, please feel free to contact Kevin McCloskey at .