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Larks Achievements



Pictured Left to Right: Susan Lautenbacher, Ph.D. Lark Enterprises, Inc. CEO, and Judy Bannon, Executive Director of Sudden Infant Death Services of PA and CEO of Cribs for Kids.



In the last several months, Lark Enterprises, Inc. and its CEO, Dr. Susan Lautenbacher have been recognized at the local, state, and national levels in the areas of achievement, leadership, and innovation.  In March 2024, Dr. Lautenbacher was recognized for her body of work in the field of disability services.  Dr. Lautenbacher was honored to receive one of the Women of Achievement Awards from Cribs for Kids in Pittsburgh, PA.  The annual ceremony honors exemplary women in the Pittsburgh region.  Individuals are nominated and selected based on excellence in their area of expertise, making a significant contribution to the betterment of their communities, or outstanding accomplishments for the advancement of women.   Dr. Lautenbacher commented, “This acknowledgment is not just a recognition of my work, but the work of Lark’s staff towards creating an inclusive world for all people with diverse abilities.”   


Pictured Left to Right:  John Connolly National Council of SourceAmerica Employers (NCSE) East Representative, Susan Lautenbacher, Ph.D. Lark Enterprises, Inc. CEO, and Allen Connely NCSE Chair.








In May 2024, during the SourceAmerica conference in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Lautenbacher was presented with the National Council of SourceAmerica Employers (NCSE) Management Excellence Award for her leadership insignificantly advancing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Each year, SourceAmerica selects three individuals from the United States who are a positive force in growing a workplace of inclusion for people of diverse abilities.

 

In late May, Lark and Dr. Lautenbacher were presented with the inaugural Innovation Award in Harrisburg.  The award was presented by UniqueSource in recognition of Lark’s transformative use of technology and artificial intelligence (AI), which has led to job diversity and accessibility for individuals who have previously faced barriers to achieving their goals for employment and self-determination. While receiving this award, Dr. Lautenbacher acknowledged that combining technology with human capacity has increased the growth of the individuals we support, the staff, and Lark’s social enterprises.

 

Dr. Lautenbacher’s push for technology augmented with artificial intelligence was inspired during her doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh.  Dr. Lautenbacher was exposed to the university’s Learning Research and Development Center where the internationally renowned center’s innovative research on learning and education and cognitive neuroscience impressed on Dr. Lautenbacher the importance of understanding the brain bases of learning.  This knowledge led to Dr. Lautenbacher’s desire to innovate work in the same way as “smart homes” innovate independence in daily living.  Lark has introduced technology augmented with artificial intelligence into its social enterprises, allowing operators to complete complex tasks.  At Lark, individuals with diverse abilities perform highly skilled jobs by utilizing semi-automated and fully automated equipment.  To move forward in this model, Dr. Lautenbacher attained grant funding to purchase cutting-edge technology that assists individuals in mastering skillsets needed for modern-day employment.

 

Today, with the help of technology, Lark is increasing the number of garments that are American-made by individuals with diverse abilities and are produced here in western PA.  Lark’s social enterprises now include textile manufacturing, screen printing, embroidery services, packaging and assembly, janitorial, and staffing.

 

Lark has evolved remarkably over the past 67 years. While the mission has always been to assist individuals become self-reliant and integrated into the community, through greater independence, choice, and opportunity, with the help of technology infused with AI people are learning the skills needed to truly be included in the community.

 

 

 

 


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