The Connecticut Business Leadership Network Forges New Disability Growth Initiative with USBLN and Wells Fargo

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 Connecticut Business Leadership Network.

“This new initiative will help propel DSDP to the next level by engaging affiliates at the local level to work with corporations embracing the benefits of disability supplier diversity inclusion and disability-owned businesses ready to be certified by USBLN® and elevate their business in the commercial sector,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN®. “We are thankful to Wells Fargo for their ongoing commitment to USBLN and creating economic opportunity for people with disabilities.”

“Supplier diversity (DSDP®) plays an important role in CTBLN’s mission to bring diversity full circle to include individuals with disabilities in the business community as both employees and entrepreneurs/vendors.  We share Wells Fargo’s and the USBLN’s passion and appreciate this generous grant’s support for promoting disability supplier diversity (DSDP®) and the power it has to change businesses and improve lives.

Our kick-off for this initiative is the CTBLN Annual Meeting on June 8th (for more information go to at which we are recognizing the State of Connecticut for ground breaking work in supplier diversity for the creation of a disability-owned business set-aside in 1992. The State of Connecticut’s recognition of disability owned businesses as a valued part of the state’s economy through the creation of this set-aside, puts the State of Connecticut decades ahead of other states which are only recently recognizing the benefit of granting disability owned businesses a status similar to that of women and minority owned businesses. We appreciate this grant from the USBLN, sponsored by Wells Fargo, as it will help to kick-start CTBLN’s work in DSDP®.”  Sharon Denson, Executive Director, CTBLN.

Since their inception, USBLN® affiliates have made tremendous progress in advancing disability inclusion in the workplace and marketplace in communities across the country. This innovative initiative will support affiliates by helping them grow supplier diversity programming in their 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™).

USBLN established its Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP®) in 2010 with the mission to certify and develop DOBEs, as well as help corporations develop supplier diversity programs that are fully inclusive of businesses owned by people with disabilities.

“Wells Fargo is proud of its long-time partnership with the USBLN and pleased to support this Initiative. We’re committed to creating access and opportunity for members of the disability community,” said Regina O. Heyward, Senior Vice President and Head of Supplier Diversity at Wells Fargo. “The affiliates are well-positioned to build awareness and bring together companies and community business organizations in support of disability-owned businesses. When these businesses are given the opportunity, they’re contributors to the economic growth and well-being of our local communities.”  

The grants provided by Wells Fargo will help affiliates and their 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.

Other USBLN Affiliates participating in the launch of the initiative are:

·       Chicagoland BLN

·       DC Metro BLN

·       Hawaii BLN

·       Massachusetts BLN

·       North Carolina BLN

·       Ohio BLN

The Connecticut Business Leadership Network 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 please contact Sharon Denson, M.Ed., J.D., Executive Director, CTBLN at 860-561-1232 or at

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