Olivia Halvorson came to Boeing two years ago and immediately became involved with the Boeing Employees Ability Awareness Association (BEAAA) Business Resource Group, where she currently serves as chair of the Mesa, Arizona, chapter.
“I have learned a variety of lessons about leadership, advocacy and disabilities, and it means everything to me that I can play a role in the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives,” Olivia said.
Olivia is an ally. While she does not have a disability, she grew up with someone who does.
“My brother, Ben, has Down syndrome, and it has always been important to our family that he feels included and worthy of friendships and opportunities,” Olivia said. “Being a sister to Ben meant that at a very young age, I was already explaining to my friends that people with disabilities are cool.”
These days she’s still telling people how cool people with disabilities are, and BEAAA has provided a platform in which to do so by bringing in guest speakers, hosting demonstrations and giving a space to teach about inclusion.
“National Disability Employment Awareness Month highlights the value of allowing people with disabilities to do meaningful work, but it also underscores the challenges that people with disabilities encounter in the world,” Olivia said. “For 22 years, I have watched Ben navigate his life, and I’ve learned that society can be very impatient and unforgiving to people with disabilities.”
When Olivia began her career at Boeing, she decided she wanted her workplace to be somewhere Ben would be welcome, which is why she pursued a leadership position in BEAAA.
“Over the past few years, the meaning of NDEAM has become very personal to me, and it encourages me to reflect on what we can do to better elevate and advocate for people like my brother,” Olivia said. “By empowering people to share their passions and stories, it generates understanding and helps bring everyone into the picture.”