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News Release

Sept. 10, 2019

Former Walgreens executive to discuss workforce development for people with disabilities during fall Ploghoft lecture

Randy Lewis – a consultant, Fortune 50 executive and disability advocate – will visit Northwest Missouri State University to present its fall Ploghoft Diversity Lecture.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. Lewis will discuss ways educators can work with people with disabilities to help them develop skills and prepare them for joining the workforce. The program will include information relevant to education’s role in producing students for the workforce.

“It is important for our education candidates to see their role in the preparation of all students – including those with specific disabilities – for the future,” Dr. David Kiene, an associate professor of education at Northwest and the chair of the Ploghoft Diversity Lecture Committee. “This includes the development of skills in the workplace. Teachers should be aware of the strategies and techniques needed to assist students with special needs so they are prepared to have productive careers beyond the classroom. This means the creation of inclusive classrooms that mirror workplaces that are open to all, no matter what disability a teacher or student may encounter.”

Before retiring in 2013, Lewis led Walgreens’ logistics division for 16 years as the chain grew from 1,500 to 8,000 stores with the most advanced logistics network in its industry. Believing that people with disabilities could do more, he pioneered a disability employment model in its distribution centers that resulted in 10 percent of its workforce consisting of people with disabilities. The initiative changed the lives of thousands and serves as a model for other employers such as P&G, Lowe’s, Meijer and Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom.

His book, “No Greatness Without Goodness,” recounts the story of what led him to create the Walgreens model, which the National Governors Association called the “gold standard of disability hiring.”

In addition to remaining active in business and serving as a director of the Wendy’s restaurant chain, Lewis developed the NOGWOG Disability Initiative as an effective, low-cost and sustainable disability hiring model for employers. The private-public partnership provides employers the qualified candidates they need and people with disabilities the opportunities they seek.

Lewis was recognized in 2011 by the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago as Leader of the Year for his outstanding service and accomplishments in the field of human resources and business. He received South Carolina’s highest award to non-citizens, the Order of the Silver Crescent, in 2008 for his leadership and contribution to the well-being of its citizenry.

Lewis also will present about “Leveraging Talents of a Diverse Workforce” during an Oct. 13 conference organized by Lettuce Dream in Maryville, Employment First Missouri and Rolling Hills Creative Living. For more information or to register for the conference, visit

The Ploghoft Diversity Lecture series features speakers and activities that broaden the educational perspectives of Northwest teacher candidates and inform all students about the issues facing the education of students from diverse environments.

It is funded through the generosity of the late Dr. Milton Ploghoft of Athens, Ohio, and his late wife, Zella. Dr. Ploghoft, a 1949 Northwest alumnus who died in 2018, was professor emeritus at Ohio University. Zella, who passed away in 2010, completed her elementary and secondary education at Horace Mann Laboratory School at Northwest.

Dr. Ploghoft authored a number of textbooks in the social studies and lived abroad for many years, founding the College of Education in Kano, Nigeria, lecturing at Saigon University and leading the university's international programs in such disparate places as Chile, Cameroun, Botswana, the Yucatan, Swaziland and in what was then South Vietnam. In 1992, he became the founding editor of the African Education Research Network.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215