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Laura Whitaker began as a volunteer at Extra Special People in 2003. With her passion for enhancing the lives of children with developmental disabilities, Laura became the Executive Director at the age of 19 after the founder, Martha Wyllie’s sudden passing in 2004.
In 2016 under the ESP organization, Laura co-founded Java Joy, a mobile coffee cart rented by businesses and organizations to provide a unique give-back experience for their employees and/or customers, while also providing meaningful training, employment and self-confidence for individuals with disabilities. What sets Java Joy apart is its power to impact people of every ability. Java Joy brings the experience of interacting with people with disabilities to patrons in their own, familiar environment—with a cup of coffee, a hug and a smile.
Laura obtained both her Bachelor’s degree in Collaborative Special Education and her Master’s degree in Adapted Curriculum Classic Autism at the University of Georgia. She is a 2017 member of Leadership Georgia, 2018 member of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 and Georgia Trend’s 2018 40 Under 40. Laura enjoys leading ESP and Java Joy while admiring tulips, nurturing her affection for elephants, decorating thriftily and raising 3 kids in Athens, GA.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- Meaningful employment for people of all abilities
- Maintaining employment for people with disabilities during a time of crisis
- Adjusting a business model that includes HUGS during COVID-19 (Zoom, neighborhood pop-ups)
- Why businesses need JOY – it’s good for business (CSR, company moral, etc.)
- National expansion of Java Joy
About Our Sponsor
OnPay’s payroll services and HR software give you more time to focus on what’s most important. Rated “Excellent” by PC Magazine, we make it easy to pay employees fast, we automate all payroll taxes, and we even keep all your HR and benefits organized and compliant.
Our award-winning customer service includes an accuracy guarantee, deep integrations with popular accounting software, and we’ll even enter all your employee information for you — whether you have five employees or 500. Take a closer look to see all the ways we can save you time and money in the back office.