LivAbility Magazine
Photo shows Phil Pangrazio sits in his wheelchair and holds a large award. He is surrounded by a woman in a blue gown, a woman in a black suit, and a man in a gray suit.
Ability360 President and CEO Phil Pangrazio was honored with the Detective Walter Olsen Lifetime Achievement Award
conferred by the city of Phoenix and the Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues (MCDI) on Oct. 24, 2017.

The award was given at the city’s Disability Awareness Recognition Event honoring those with disabilities and employers, educators and others who have shown dedication to addressing the access and functional needs of the disability community. The ceremony also recognizes commitment to improving the quality of life of all residents and visitors of Phoenix.

“I am honored to represent the hard work that everyone at Ability360 has accomplished over the last 30 years. It’s a privilege to receive this recognition.” Pangrazio said. “I am also very thankful for the breadth of accessibility Phoenix has created which allows me and all people with disabilities who live, work and play in Phoenix to fully enjoy our great city.”

City Councilwoman Kate Gallego joined MCDI Vice Chair Dan French to present the awards.

“Phil was the conscience of the T2050 initiative,” Gallego said, noting Pangrazio’s involvement in the Phoenix transportation proposal. “It’s great to recognize him for what he’s done. His efforts will serve generations to come.”

The transportation proposal Gallego mentioned was a citizen-led committee of community advocates and transportation experts that addressed different concerns from Phoenix residents. The initiative is intended to triple the number of light rail miles in Phoenix, add a new light rail station at 50th Street and Washington Street, provide late night bus and Dial-a-Ride service citywide over the next 35 years. It was passed in 2015 and went into effect in January 2016.

Retired Phoenix Police Detective Walter Olsen for whom the Lifetime Achievement award is named said that he finds the recognition event humbling each year as he meets the honorees.

“This mission benefits the entire community and these individuals make life better—easier for all of us,” Olsen said.

“No one does this for the recognition but we all benefit from their efforts,” Gallego said. “I’m honored to be here to recognize these individuals and organizations on behalf of our city.”

Business awardee HBI International was recognized for innovative hiring practices that have led to 25 percent of their workforce identifying as people with disabilities.

“We just look for the best employees, HBI International founder Josh Kesselman said. “We don’t put limits or expectations on who they should be.”


Architectural: First Place Phoenix

Business Excellence Non Profit: Sun Sounds of Arizona

Business Excellence For Profit: HBI International

Community Service: Gloria Chavez

Outstanding Educator: Luz Rodriquez

Detective Walter Olsen Lifetime Achievement: Phil Pangrazio

Attendees also enjoyed a performance by Voces Unidas, a Latino choral group of individuals living with Parkinson’s. Brooke Brown, author of The Little Butterfly Girl offered a keynote address on inclusion. Nohelani Graf, Emmy Award-winning journalist from ABC15 emceed the event.