Kendra Bailey

Employee Success Coach
Relay Resources / Portland, OR


When Kendra Bailey (they/them pronouns) speaks about advocating for themself and other people with disabilities, a strong sense of pride is unmistakable. They credit that pride to a journey that began at the start of the pandemic when they lost their job for advocating for the use of masks.

Their former employer "didn't understand the importance of that and how it could potentially affect somebody like me with preexisting conditions," Kendra recalls.

After working with several nonprofits serving marginalized groups, including unhoused individuals and people in addiction recovery, Kendra met with a site supervisor at Relay Resources, an AbilityOne® authorized provider in Portland, Oregon, and decided that "this is a place I need to be." Kendra applied for a janitorial position with Relay Resources, viewing it as a fresh start. The interviewer was impressed by Kendra’s training knowledge and encouraged them to apply for a workforce trainer position.

Having someone recognize and validate Kendra's potential meant the world to them and propelled their upward trajectory. "Even if you don't see your own potential, they [Relay Resources] will help you to see it," says Kendra. "It wasn't two months later that I was asked to apply for the program supervisor position, and I ended up getting that role."

Relay Resources recently reorganized its Accommodations and Compliance department into Employee Support and Success. According to Wally Tablit, chief disability inclusion officer for Relay Resources, the goal is "to go beyond employment and help employees be successful and thrive at their jobs." The agency has built a team of eight employee success coaches who introduce current and potential Relay Resources employees to AbilityOne jobs and coordinate transportation, medical appointments, and other necessary paperwork for those individuals to become qualified as AbilityOne employees.

Kendra, who spoke at the 2023 SourceAmerica Grassroots Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC, is continuing the advocacy journey they began several years ago. In their newest role as a Relay Resources employee success coach, Kendra encourages other people with disabilities to pursue their goals and advocates for expanded job opportunities both inside and outside AbilityOne contracts.

Of the new role, Kendra says, "My purpose, passion, and mission is to try and help folks who are in situations that I've previously been in to get out of those situations, but also at some point in the future, to help keep from ever being in those situations in the first place."