Donna Kocol, program manager of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, has been named the Scott Kramer Advocate of the Year by the Chattanooga Area Employment Consortium.
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. Ms. 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,"s aid Pam Smith, the Partnership's director of Dead, Deaf Blind, and Hard of Hearing Services. "Their concerns are important to her. As their advocate, she strongly believes in helping them find their voice and is relentless when advocating on their behalf.” Ms. Smith nominated Ms. Kocol for the award, typically presented publicly at a luncheon in non-COVID years.
Originally from Kenosha, Wi., Ms. 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.
“Donna absolutely deserves this award. She is unfailingly polite but is relentless when advocating on behalf of our clients,” said Ms. Smith. “Partnership is so fortunate to have her on our team.”