THE STORY OF EP BUILD
El Paso Businesses United for Inclusion, Leadership, and Diversity (EP BUILD) is a group of professionals working together to increase disability awareness and educate employers, community, and business leaders, and other interested parties on strategies that support and promote equal opportunity, inclusion, and accessibility for all persons.
EP BUILD will help employers recruit, hire, and retain people with disabilities by serving as a resource for diversity and inclusion education and mentoring. Becoming a conduit for federal, state, and local community resources dedicated to assisting people with disabilities.
El Paso Businesses United for Inclusion, Leadership and Diversity, or EP BUILD, started around 5 years ago with a personal experience by founder, Mary Castillo.
As a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of Texas, one of Castillo’s roles was to go out and meet with employers to establish relationships that would open employment opportunities for the people the state agency serves, people with disabilities.
It was during one of these outreach efforts that she encountered an experience that shook her to the core.
“I was in a local department store with the intent to talk to someone in the Human Resources (HR) department about possible opportunities for the people for whom I provided services. That didn’t happen,” says Castillo.
“After requesting the meeting and while I was waiting to speak to someone in the HR department, I heard the pounding of footsteps. When I looked up, I saw this woman coming at me with a very stern look. When she reached me, she very clearly and loudly told me, ‘There is nothing for you here.’, her arms waving over my head.”
“At that moment I realized that someone told her I was using a wheelchair, and she assumed that I was looking for work. I managed to get a job application, and I left. When I got to my vehicle, I was shaking and I could not make sense of anything that happened. Then, as I was sitting there, I noticed that clearly printed on the top of the application was the statement that this department store is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.”
“After processing that, and other similar experiences”, says Castillo, “I realized that there was fear behind this reaction. I found that employers were afraid of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, or both, and they were afraid of not meeting the standards of equal access that the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) has mandated.”
“The easiest way for them to avoid the situation was to not hire anyone with a visible disability. This experience inspired me to try to do something about this issue,” says Castillo.
Mary Castillo asked Executive Officers and Human Resource Managers on Linkedin if they would be interested in meeting to discuss issues of disability and employment.
To her surprise, she got a response from the CEO of The Hospitals of Providence East Campus, in addition to all the CEOs of Tenet Health, future Mayor Oscar Leeser, and representatives from Lowe’s and Walgreen’s.
The first meeting took place at a restaurant on May 23, 2013. At that time, the group did not have a name. It was just called “The Employer Group.” But, this first small meeting would lay the framework that would eventually lead to the establishment of EP BUILD.”
OUr Mission Statement
The Mission of BUILD is to serve employers/businesses and people with disabilities to create a community that is the model of inclusion and diversity; working closely with community agencies that serve and work toward the inclusion of people with disabilities. The primary goal for BUILD is to establish a permanent governance structure in the City of El Paso (and surrounding communities) that drives awareness and attention to issues of full access and attitudinal acceptance for all persons, with and without disabilities.
To provide expertise and guidance to the City of El Paso and surrounding communities regarding Disability Awareness issues that promote Inclusion and Diversity in the community, and to serve as a facilitator for employment opportunities and/or the environmental workplace accommodation of people with disabilities.
EP BUILD will bring added value to the City of El Paso, TX and surrounding communities, by supplementing or providing Disability Awareness and Inclusion/Sensitivity training to local businesses. In turn, local businesses/employers will find value in acquiring talent from a labor-capable, yet vastly under-utilized population of job candidates with disabilities that are ready, able and willing to work. BUILD Board is comprised by Business Owners, City Representatives, Corporate Businesses and Community Agencies that serve people with disabilities: together they bring their relevant subject matter expertise and diverse perspectives. The BUILD Board will be committed to collaboratively working with local businesses to increase gainful employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
In addition, EP BUILD is committed to improving capacity-building strategies and processes, to educating and connecting employers with resources who provide services and assistance and to overall enhancing and promoting equal opportunity employment and workplace inclusion practices in the city of El Paso (and surrounding communities).
- Increase number of High-Skilled, employment opportunities available
- Promote and facilitate universal inclusion and disability awareness in local recruitment and employment practices
- Increase number of higher income work opportunities available
- To help match job seekers’ qualifications to available job opportunities through community agencies.
- A fair rate of return on the taxpayer’s investment (Tax Credits)
- Promote recognition of employers that apply innovative and creative practices which improve accessibility both in physical facilities and in workplace attitudes.
Meet our Executive Board
Owner of Paul Whittler Graphic Design in El Paso, Texas. A proud graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso (Cum Laude) in Broadcast Journalism, Mr. Whittler has an extensive background in broadcast media, public relations, marketing, and graphic design. A Board Member of EP Build since mid-2017, Mr. Whittler firmly believes in the mission and goals that EP Build was founded upon. “I am very happy and honored to be a part of such a tremendous organization as EP Build. Especially, in helping to promote awareness and understanding of the needs of people with disabilities in our community.”-Paul Whittler