November 18, 2010
La Salle University Honors John Connolly,
of InspiriTec, for His Leadership
in Information Technology and Community Service
La Salle University honored John Connolly of InspiriTec for his leadership in information technology and community service with its 2010 Information Technology Leadership Award on November 18, 2010.
John Connolly (left) receiving the La Salle University 2010 Information Technology Leadership Award from Provost Dr. Joseph Marbach (right)
“John Connolly's contributions to the community demonstrate Lasallian values. His work has helped to extend the use of technology in the area,” said Margaret McCoey, an assistant professor of mathematics and computer science at La Salle, who also directs the master’s programs in Computer Information Science and Information Technology Leadership. “John has been able to merge technology and community service. We are very proud to honor him.”
Technology, says Connolly, “levels the playing field” for persons with disabilities. InspiriTec, an award winning IT and Teleservices firm, hires and affirmatively employs people with disabilities, providing employment, independence, and hope.
“We are all touched by disability somehow,” said Connolly. “Some of InspiriTec’s greatest supporters have friends and relatives who have a disability. Not to mention our two best software developers are legally blind.”
But sometimes it’s not enough to train a person in technology.
“We once hired a person who had all the skills to do a customer service job,” said Connolly, “but she went on 60 job interviews before she found us. She was blind. In other words, we realized early on that vocational training is not the only answer, we needed to ‘practice what we teach,’ and InspiriTec was formed. We became an IT firm ourselves that employs people with disabilities; we operate with the crispness and discipline of a business and the compassion of a human services organization.”
Connolly had considered joining the priesthood, but met his future wife, and his plans changed. In graduate school, he started teaching adults with disabilities computer skills, and discovered the low employment rate of people with disabilities. He then founded InspiriTec, a nonprofit organization.
“InspiriTec is something that, yes, I founded, but a lot of other people helped launch it and many more make what we do happen every day,” said Connolly. “I see this work as my vocation and calling.”
InspiriTec has been recognized by Forbes magazine, the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Department of Labor. It has also received several workplace awards.
Originally from the northern New Jersey shore, Connolly has always been around technology, but didn’t realize it until later in his life.
“In the late 1960s, my dad bought me a manual digital binary computer. In high school, I fooled around on a DEC minicomputer but was not considered one of the hard core geeks – or maybe that was just what I thought of myself. My undergraduate majors at Lehigh University were in social psychology, urban studies, and religion – though in looking back, I did do several computer projects at Lehigh.
He earned two master’s degrees, an MBA (Finance) and Master’s in Social Work, “but, as I recollect now, I did a healthy amount of computer work then, too.”