The Able Trust Extends Giving Tuesday One More Day
Awards the MacDonald Training Center $250K Grant to
Increase Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

MTC would like to extend a warm THANK YOU to The Able Trust for this amazing opportunity! 

Click on the picture to read more!


Congratulations are in order!

Patti Sanchez, Senior Employment Specialist received the Lightning’s Community Hero Award on Monday, February 25. Patti, on the right, celebrates with Karenne Levy, President/CEO and The Honorable Jack Gutman, MTC board member.

Patti Sanchez brings a passion and unbridled enthusiasm to the position of Senior Employment Specialist a t MacDonald Training Center. Deaf since early childhood, Patti is very well known in the deaf and hard of hearing community as an employment specialist, advocate and mentor with an established track record of finding and placing individuals with disabilities into employment. Ninety six individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing are working today because of Patti.

Since joining MTC in 2018  through grant funding from The Able Trust, Patti has placed 19 individuals into employment and ran MTC’s first summer camp for youth who are deaf and hard of hearing. In addition to the recognition from the Lightning she has won both Disability and Hispanic woman of the year awards and “gone viral” on social media sites as she advocates for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Congratulations, Patti!



Karenne Levy Receives the Dr. George L. Spelios Leadership Award


Tampa, Fla. – The Able Trust launched Disability Employment Awareness (DEAM) activities in Orlando and announced the recipients of its 2018 Ability Awards. Karenne Levy, President and CEO of the MacDonald Training Center in Tampa, was named the 2018 Dr. George L. Spelios Leadership Award recipient.

(Left to Right) Dr. Susanne Homant, President and CEO, The Able Trust; Arlene Shackelford, Board Member, The Able Trust;
Karenne Levy, President & CEO, MacDonald Training Center; and Karen B. Moore, Chairperson of the Board, The Able Trust,

The Ability Awards honor select individuals and organizations from throughout the state for their contributions to the mission of The Able Trust. The Able Trust and its partners have helped put thousands of people with disabilities to work throughout Florida, and this annual celebration allows The Able Trust to thank some of the very important colleagues who work with The Able Trust in achieving this critical mission.

Dr. George Spelios was a founding director and past Chair of The Able Trust who touched the lives of many through his passion and commitment to serve people with disabilities. As a tribute to his years of dedication and service, the Dr. George L. Spelios Leadership Award recognizes the outstanding leadership and advocacy efforts of an executive director or president of a Florida nonprofit disability organization.

Karenne Levy began the position of President & CEO at the MacDonald Training Center in August 2016 and promptly began to expand the services and programs offered. Her leadership has brought new educational opportunities for individuals on the Autism Spectrum, including programs like EXCEL, Excellence in Computer Education and Learning, a new high-tech pathway to employment with industry-recognized certificates of ability, as well as a new summer program for youth aged 14-21 that provides for continued skill development over the school summer break.  She also established the HEAR Program to assist individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing with employment assistance.  This program has distinguished itself in offering tri-lingual interpretation in American Sign Language, English and Spanish. Employment outcomes have doubled, leading to an increased number of individuals that have gained new independence. Her leadership has brought about outstanding partnerships with major employers in the greater Hillsborough County area, including Moffit Cancer Center, Tampa General Hospital, and Bay Care.

“The Able Trust is honored to work with Karenne and her organizations,” said Dr. Susanne Homant, president and CEO of The Able Trust. “Karenne and her staff work very hard to make sure that a job, and for many a career, are viable options for Floridians with disabilities. We are proud to call them partners in our mission.”

Other 2018 Ability Awards winners are:

Legislator of the Year: Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, District 21

Beverly Chapman Employment Placement Program of the Year: Best Buddies, Orlando

Public Employee of the Year: Lucy Mohs, Public Affairs Director, The Florida Department of Education, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Tallahassee

Young Adult Leader of the Year: R.J. Curtis, Student, Land O’Lakes

Adult Leader of the Year: Justin Shea, Gulfport

Employer of the Year: Caribe Royale Resort, Orlando

Employer of the Year: Pitney Bowes, Jacksonville

Employer of the Year: Tavistock Development Company, Orlando

High School High Tech Site of the Year: Madison County, Madison

Media Representative of the Year: Tim Croft, Editor, The Star, Port St. Joe

Volunteer of the Year: Richard E. Herring, Attorney, Tallahassee


About The Able Trust

The Able Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1990 by the Florida Legislature and is funded through a combination of public and private dollars. Its mission is to be a key leader in providing Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment. The Able Trust supports numerous diverse projects, including the High School High Tech program, youth leadership training, work experience training and technical assistance, transportation assistance, career development training, employment and career path direction, and assistance to businesses as they seek the employment of people with disabilities. Since its beginnings, The Able Trust has worked with community organizations in every county in Florida to put thousands of people with disabilities to work. To learn more about The Able Trust, please visit and follow @AbleTrust.

Change a Life, One Strand at a Time!

Repurpose your Gasparilla Pirate Beads at MacDonald Training Center and provide opportunities that will change the lives of your friends and neighbors with disabilities!

For your convenience a collection bin is located at the front door of our main facility
5420 W. Cypress Street, where you may drop off your beads 24 hours a day!

Repackaged beads will be available for purchase in the spring. Please check back with us, or leave your information by calling 870-1300 ext. 310 or email us at [email protected] and we will notify you when the beads are ready for purchase.

karenne levy

Karenne P. Levy is MTC’s new President and Chief Executive Officer. “I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with the board, staff and the people served at MacDonald Training Center. This organization is recognized for its transformational and innovative service approach. A model where people with disabilities are valued as contributing members of the community and are able to develop their talents, pursue their dreams and lead the lives they choose,” said Ms. Levy upon being appointed.

Ms. Levy is an experienced, mission-driven non-profit leader who believes in empowering people by providing them with the skills and opportunities necessary for them to lead and sustain independent lives. Ms. Levy comes to MTC from H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Center, where she led their Department of Patient Experience. Ms. Levy joined Moffitt after 14 years at Quest, Inc., a non-profit serving those with disabilities in Central Florida, where she most recently served as the Chief Operating Officer.

Ms. Levy received her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Miami Institute of Psychology, her BA in Psychology from the University of Western Ontario, and Graduate Professional Certificate from Sacred Heart University School of Business. Ms. Levy lives in South Tampa with her family.

Ms. Levy’s appointment follows the retirement of James M. Freyvogel, President/CEO of MTC since 2001, who originally announced his planned retirement in January. Mr. Freyvogel has long been widely recognized and admired as a voice for the voiceless, a champion and leading advocate for thousands of people with disabilities and their families. He was the driving force for dynamic change at MTC over the last 15 years. He is well known in the field for leading the successful transitioning of the once sheltered workshop based organization into a community based resource and career training center for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with broad corporate and philanthropic support.

Inspiring advocate shifted careers so she could help find jobs for deaf people

Patti Sanchez is a labor consultant, counselor and guide for deaf people who seek employment in Tampa Bay. She works with the MacDonald Training Center in Tampa. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ | CENTRO]

TAMPA — Patti Sánchez has worked as an auditor and an accountant for banks and other companies, but her goal always was to help other people like her find a place in the business world.

Sanchez was 7 when she lost her hearing to complications from measles and a high fever that she suffered when she was 3. Deafness turned the outside world silent for her, but over time, and with the support of her mother, she learned it need not hold her back.

“She told me I could overcome everything, and I think that’s the way it was,” Sanchez said. “She never thought that my condition made me special or different,”

Now, Sánchez teaches those life lessons as a labor consultant, counselor and guide for deaf people who are seeking employment in the Tampa area. She holds the position of inclusion specialist at the MacDonald Training Center, a private, nonprofit organization established in Tampa in 1953 to help people with disabilities of all kinds.

She helps people develop resumes and prepare for job interviews, and she meets with potential employers to show them why they should consider hiring deaf people. In all she does, she works to show that deaf people have more to offer than many people believe.

“I want to guide people who are deaf to reach what they want,” Sanchez said. “But at the same time, it’s important to educate employers because there must be opportunities. In that sense, I feel proud to work for that door to open.”

Sanchez speaks English, American Sign Language and Spanish, the language of her Puerto Rican heritage. To communicate her message during one-on-one meetings, she reads lips and interprets gestures.

“We use our hands, but also our eyes, which are like our ears.”

Sanchez uses a text-voice device when communicating by phone, and she has mastered the tools of the Internet — a powerful way for her to make contacts inside and outside the state.

Sánchez, 54, graduated with a business degree from St. Francis College, New York, studied professional development and accounting at the University of Puerto Rico, and has a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix in Tampa.

“When I give my business card, many people are surprised to see that I have a master’s degree,” she said. “Why? We are human and we are not different.”

Sanchez teaches free American Sign Language classes at night at several locations in Hillsborough County, just one of the reasons her daughter, 18-year-old Imara Torres, sees her as an inspiration.

“My mother has always been an open-minded, hard-working woman,” said Torres, who soon will graduate from high school. “It has educated me to be a better person and above all be able to value myself for who I am. That is the best lesson.”

Dawn Squitieri, who is deaf and works in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office, collaborates with Sanchez in her sign language classes. Squitieri called Sánchez a motivating figure, saying she is always at the forefront in promoting job opportunities and community integration events.

“We have in common that we love to help people who are deaf and hard of hearing,” Squitieri said. “We grew up in New York and we are always supporting our community.”

Rosa Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican who works as coordinator of the Literacy Program for the deaf in the Pinellas Public Library, values Sánchez’s dedication to helping deaf people achieve.

“There are none like her,” said Rosa, who has been with the library for more than two decades. “She is always helping people and organizing initiatives for the community.”

Contact Juan Carlos Chavez at [email protected]