For Immediate Release with Photo Sunday, October 17, 2021
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(Chattanooga, TN) October 13, 2021 – Donna Kocol, Program Manager of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults (Partnership) has been named the Scott Kramer Advocate of the Year by the Chattanooga Area Employment Consortium (CAEC).
The recognition is named in honor of Scott Kramer, a prominent advocate for adults with autism who died in 2019. The award honors an individual who enriches the lives of people with disabilities and inspires others in leading by example. Kocol has worked in the deaf community for many years. Representing the Partnership since 2019, she works with local law enforcement and the agency’s domestic violence shelter to create protocols, policies, and procedures that address the unique culture and language of the deaf as it relates to domestic violence.
“Donna listens to her clients. Their concerns are important to her,” said Pam Smith, the Partnership’s Director of Deaf, Deaf Blind, and Hard of Hearing Services. “As their advocate, she strongly believes in helping them find their voice and is relentless when advocating on their behalf.” Smith nominated Kocol for the award, typically presented publicly at a luncheon in non-Covid years.
Originally from Kenosha, Wisc., Kocol moved to Chattanooga with her husband in 2018. She worked for 20 years in finance before earning dual bachelor’s degrees in Exceptional Education and American Sign Language Studies and then her master’s degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling. A nationally certified Rehabilitation Counselor, she is fluent in American Sign Language.
Partnership for Families, Children and Adults is a comprehensive, non-profit human services agency that has been empowering people to build better lives through counseling, crisis intervention, prevention and education programs for over 140 years. Last year, the agency’s services touched the lives of nearly 19,000 people in 19 counties in Tennessee and four counties in North Georgia.
“Donna absolutely deserves this award. She is unfailingly polite but is relentless when advocating on behalf of our clients,” said Smith. “Partnership is so fortunate to have her on our team.”
From left to right:
Erskine Oglesby, Jeromie Gentry, Donna Kocol, Dave Buck, Ron Hanners, Barbara Valmont