Rotary Employment Partnership Stories

To learn more about the Inclusion Alberta Rotary Employment Partnership, please contact:

Wendy McDonald, Executive Director, Employment & Development, Inclusion Alberta.  (780) 974-1310


David Sobieski - Red Arrow Motorcoach arrow David Sobieski.jpg

At Red Arrow’s downtown ticket office you’ll often see David Sobieski greeting passengers, tidying the waiting area, and generally casting his positive energy over the entire operation.  The first employee hired in Calgary as part of the Inclusion Alberta/Rotary Employment Partnership, David has demonstrated how people with developmental disabilities can become valued employees within a dynamic organization.    

Behind the success of David’s employment and Red Arrow itself is Mike Colborne, President and CEO, Pacific Western Transportation, which operates Red Arrow.

 “I truly believe in inclusion for people with disabilities in the workforce, into society,” says Colborne, a Rotary Club of Calgary member. “As soon as this AACL employment initiative became part of Rotary, I said I wanted to be the first employer onboard.”

Adds Colborne, “This is so good for society and business. It demonstrates that people with disabilities are valuable and can contribute not just their skills, but it’s a great equalizer. It gives not just employees with disabilities self-confidence and self-worth, but that goes for their co-workers, too. In today’s society when business moves fast, this is a great reminder that a company has a heart.”


Cody Strass - ATB Financial Strass Dave Mowat ATB.jpg

ATB Financial has an asset that’s proving invaluable to this thriving Alberta-based bank.  His name is Cody Strass.

Cody is a workplace assistant at ATB’s headquarters in Edmonton working alongside 600 other employees.  Cody and the other individuals with developmental disabilities hired by ATB are an integral part of Alberta’s largest based financial institution, with assets of $33.7 billion and more than 5,000 associates that help more than 662,000 customers in 242 Alberta communities.

Cody has had the benefit of Inclusion Alberta advocacy since childhood to support his inclusive education and then his inclusive post-secondary education.  He was hired by ATB through the AACL Rotary Employment Partnership. Cody’s position allows his work and personal skills to shine, making him a valuable employee.    

Dave Mowat, President and CEO of ATB, and Cody recently shared their experience of working together in front of audiences of over 400 people, who were inspired not only by Cody’s successful employment but by the friendship that has developed between the two.  Dave is quick to point out that Cody has a better capacity to remember names than he does and how helpful this is when as the President of the company he may struggle with the name of one of the hundreds of employees at the bank’s headquarters – now he can turn to Cody for help.  Adding, “And we have high expectations; it’s not like we give him a free pass {because he has a disability}."     

As part of his duties at ATB Financial (with the support of its department of People & Culture), Cody greets customers and associates as they arrive for appointments. Cody also manages the boardroom setup on the 10th and 16th floors. Complementing these duties, Cody has a variety of other administrative tasks such as mail pickup and delivery, supporting special events in the building, and general support for the ATB Financial executive team.

This successful workplace partnership underscores ATB’s commitment to creating an inclusive and innovative workplace. It’s yet another factor in this high profile financial institution being named as one of Canada’s top 100 employers in 2014

As for Cody his words are short but heartfelt.

“Thanks to AACL and ATB for this opportunity.”