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Jose Velasco, Global Lead at SAP Technologies ‘Autism at Work’ program, speaks for first-time in South Florida as Special Guest Speaker

PEMBROKE PINES, FL, USA August 22, 2016 – Trailblazing 2016 – envisioned by Nelson and Minerva Santiago, co-founders of Picasso Einstein, authorities on entrepreneurial options for individuals with disabilities – is inviting the private sector, tech companies, financial investors and entrepreneurs with disabilities and their families to the table of innovation to discuss the future of disabilities, business and technology leading to economic self-sufficiency. With the support of SAP Technologies and, among other leaders in the rising movement to create jobs for people with disabilities, Trailblazing 2016 will take place Saturday, September 17th at the Amaturo Theater at Broward Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Marking his South Florida speaking debut, José Velasco, head of SAP’s ‘Autism at Work’ program, is recognized internationally as a leader in business innovation, for the purposes of creating a more inclusive, sustainable and meaningful employment platform for persons on the Autism Spectrum. In 2014, SAP, with guidance and leadership from Jose Velasco, made a groundbreaking commitment to ensure at least 1% of their entire global workforce represented individuals with Autism. “SAP is proud to support Trailblazing 2016 as there is a skill set people on the spectrum are bringing that has business value,” says Mr. Velasco, who also is the father of two autistic children himself. “We’re finding all kinds of skills in all kinds of disciplines.”


Dr. Michael Alessandri, clinical professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences and Executive Director of the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), will serve as master of ceremonies and Special Guest Speaker. He was also awarded a multi-year grant for his proposal, “Awakening the Autism Entrepreneur,” which seeks to help those who are interested in creating businesses that employ people with Autism. Also making a special appearance, Debra Ruh, CEO at Ruh Global Communications and Author of ‘Tapping into Hidden Human Capital: How leading corporations leverage multiple abilities in their workforce’.

Other Keynotes include Shira Galler, Community Outreach Manager for WIX, a leading global web development platform; Dr. Harold “Hackie” Reitman, founder of Different Brains, who is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and children’s activist. Dr. JR Harding, a 2x quadriplegic and International Disability Expert at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, who has contributed for over 30 years to national, state, and community policy for the independence and self-sufficiency of persons with disabilities.

Trailblazing 2016 is an all inclusive one-day conference including topic presentations on ‘The Benefits of NeuroDiversity in the Workplace,’ ‘The Significance of Job Creation,’ ‘Using Customized Software Platforms to Advance Business,’ ‘How to Start a Business on a Shoe String Budget,’ ‘How Assistive Technologies Breaks Down Barriers,’ and ‘The Quest for Equality.’ There will be presentations by various Entrepreneurs with Disabilities and the newest Tech Inventions to assist people with disabilities.

TICKETS ARE ON-SALE NOW! Tickets are $50 each and include boxed lunch. The conference is from 8:30am – 5pm and attendees are welcome to register starting at 7am. Blazer Exhibitor Booths (people with disabilities running their own businesses) will also be open at this time and at designated times throughout the conference. Individuals with disabilities, their parents, family, caregivers and agency staff; anyone in the private sector, investors or companies creating tech devices helping make people’s life better; anyone interested in learning more about creating businesses to employ adults with disabilities or assisting them to start their own real businesses are encouraged to attend. For more information, buy tickets or register as an exhibitor, please visit


Stay Connected with Trailblazing 2016

Follow Trailblazing 2016 on Twitter @Trailblazing16. See event news and happenings at #Trailblazing16. Follow Trailblazing 2016 on LinkedIn and like Trailblazing 2016 on Facebook at /Trailblazing16. Download our Sponsor Deck or buy tickets at


Trailblazing 2016 is a one-day conference this September 17th at the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Fort Lauderdale, FL which focuses on the future of disabilities, business and technology leading to economic self-sufficiency. This conference aims to fuel the progress and innovation needed to improve the state of disability employment, inclusion into the workforce and sustainability across all channels of living. We believe people with disabilities can (and must) participate equally in society by making substantial contributions to economic and social development. Trailblazing 2016 will change the conversation and reveal the future of self-employment as the fastest-growing alternative to traditional employment. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit


Part of all proceeds benefit LEEDD, Florida 5019(c)3 Non-Profit Organization, committed to a grassroots approach to educate communities and stakeholders on how self-employment for persons with developmental disabilities (DD) provides an opportunity for persons with DD to participate equally in society and make substantial contributions to economic and social development of our communities.