National Stuttering Association

Jonathan LazenbyCommunity Employment Specialist

    Jonathan Lazenby

    Raleigh, NC
    Community Employment Specialist
    NC DHHS Division for Services of the Blind

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    As a Community Employment Specialist (CES) with Division for Services of the Blind (DSB), I provide services to assist students with visual impairments that are attending transition programs at the Governor Morehead School in Raleigh and at high schools in surrounding counties to secure permanent employment after high school or post-secondary graduation. I analyze occupations in the community, placing students in appropriate situations according to their individual needs and abilities, adapting equipment and the environment so that a student without vision can perform the duties required in the job and training the student to perform the type of work required.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    The most challenging part of my job is introducing myself on the telephone and leaving voicemails. Sometimes my name is difficult to say and my phone number is sometimes difficult to say. It’s also challenging to answer questions on the phone or in person, especially when I am confident of the answer but have difficulty in speaking the answer.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? 
    Yes, I incorporated my stuttering to my interviewers as an employment marketing ability to show how to can relate to my potential students who struggle with their own disability to assist them with advocating for themselves during their own employment journey and to educate employers about the skills, abilities and capabilities of those who have disabilities. I have disclosed my stuttering only when I felt like my stuttering impeded my ability to convey my spoken message.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    Being a stutterer makes me a better and more valued contributor to my work by my increased ability to listen to other people talking. I am more prone to listen than to talk. Listening to my client’s needs is a very valuable part of my job. Due to my stuttering, I can better relate to someone with a disability as opposed to someone who does not have a disability. I am also someone who understands and empathizes with the difficulties of applying and maintaining a job with a disability.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    My proudest moment was being told I interviewed well, being genuinely liked and being told that I brought a lot to the job. I am also proud that I have gained the confidence in calling people who I never met before, leaving a voicemail and having them actually call back!

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    My long-term career aspiration is to help people realize their dreams and happiness by using their skills, abilities and capabilities. My goal is to advocate for people with disabilities and become that person for which I needed so desperately growing up.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    It took 13 grueling interviews to get hired for my current job. I drove across the great state of North Carolina from the mountains to the coast and landed the job in the city from which I grew up in. My best advice is DON’T GIVE UP!!! You will feel like giving up many times. I felt like giving up many times during my unemployment period. I was told that my stuttering needed to be accommodated with technology to which made me feel like my knowledge, skills and abilities weren’t enough for the job. I now realize that my personality is the best accommodation I could ever have.