The Specialisterne Foundation opens for business in the State of Delaware

Gov. Jack Markell of the State of Delaware today joined Thorkil Sonne, Founder and President of The Specialisterne Foundation, and Thère du Pont, President of the Longwood Foundation, in a special announcement about funding to facilitate the employment of Delawareans with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The announcement took place Friday June 15th 2012 in the Community Service Building in Wilmington, where the Specialisterne Foundation will be headquartered among other non-profit organizations.

Markell_on_podio_122x160Markell praised Specialisterne’s commitment to establishing jobs for individuals with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder and for working with businesses to match people’s skills with the appropriate positions. The governor said Specialisterne’s passion and ambition for employing individuals is similar to his for the people of Delaware. “I am working to create jobs for all Delawareans, including people with a range of disabilities.”

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Specialisterne in Denmark receives Growth Capital

Specialisterne Denmark have received an injection of growth capital from the newly established The Social Capital Fund (“Den Sociale Kapitalfond”), Denmark’s first social venture fund, which is focusing on investing capital and competencies in promising social entrepreneurs to scale their social impact and economic performance.

The Chairman of The Social Capital Fund, Ms. Gurli Martinussen, calls Specialisterne a prime example of social entrepreneurship: “Specialisterne have spotted a unique potential in people who often is seen as a vulnerable group in society, and used this potential to create exciting and meaningful jobs. It is a sustainable social solution that also helps to further develop the understanding of how we create more opportunities for everyone in society. It is exactly the type of businesses we want to help spread and develop,” she says.

For Specialisterne Denmark the new financial platform will make an important difference in its endeavours to create more jobs for people with autism spectrum disorders. CEO Henrik Thomsen says: “We have lacked growth capital to exploit our potential in the market to a greater extent and expand our team of consultants with autism spectrum disorders. Where Specialisterne might have been too “social” for some commercial investors, but too “commercial” for some social funders, we have in the Social Capital Fund encountered an investor with the social aspect as a priority as well as knowledge and resources to help us in our business mission to create further sustainable jobs. We will now be able to take major step forward and get much more ‘specialist people’ in work”.

Links: (danish)

Specialisterne Iceland Receives Award

proskahjalpSpecialisterne Iceland have recently been presented with the Pioneers Award by Iceland’s National Association for People with Disabilities. The award, which is presented annually, to individuals or organizations that help break down walls for people with disabilities and thus help them to live fuller lives, was presented by Iceland’s Minister for Education, Science and Culture Katrin Jakobsdottir. Specialisterne Iceland were one of three recipients for this year’s award.

“We’re delighted,” says Specialisterne Iceland General Manager Bjarni Torfi. “This award will help increase focus nationally on what we are trying to achieve in Specialisterne. It shines a light on our profile and will help us establish new contacts so we can continue to grow our business.”

Specialisterne Acknowledged as Best Practice in Essl Foundation Report

Specialisterne has been acknowledged as one of 27 good practice examples in the Essl Foundation’s Zero Project 2012 Report. The report is an international study on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities.


Commissioned by the Essl Foundation, the report is a commentary on the state of the UN Convention in 36 countries based on 21 social indicators. Read the full report here.

Specialisterne Now in the USA!

It is with great pride that we can reveal that Specialisterne Foundation, Inc. has now formed in the USA. Incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware. The foundation will drive and support the adoption of the Specialisterne model across the United States, and carry out fundraising to facilitate the global drive to enable one million jobs for people with autism and similar challenges.

Furthermore, Specialisterne Minnesota has also become an official entity, which will bring the Specialisterne model into the state of Minnesota. Continue reading

Specialisterne Now in Austria

The Specialisterne model continues to spread to more locations around the world, and we are delighted to announce that Specialisterne Austria is now an officially registered association. Local Coordinator Stephan Dorfmeister is leading the operation and is already in full swing with fundraising activities and business planning.

Read also the updated posting about about the Specialisterne Austria team here.

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Iceland and Scotland Grow Their Business

Business is progressing for Specialisterne Scotland and Specialisterne Iceland with both organisations growing. Just a few short months after launching Specialisterne in April, the Iceland organisation is expanding – and not just in terms of the number of employees. An assessment manager joined the team on June 1; the same day that the company moved into larger offices. They have since welcomed eight new candidates into the assessment process, and plan to take in more before the end of the year. They also plan to hire a personnel manager early 2012. The Icelandic consultants are also keeping busy with a number of interesting assignments, for example they worked on building a new website for the island of Videy, Iceland. This is where the Imagine Peace Tower  – a memorial to John Lennon from his wife Yoko Ono – is located. The new website is due to launch on Lennon’s birthday October 9. “Things are moving forward,” says Bjarni Torfi Álfpórsson, General Manager Specialisterne Iceland. “We are really pleased with our progress, and happy with the positive response we are getting from companies here in Iceland.” Continue reading

Specialist People Conference 2011 – A success

“My dream is that the Dandelion approach will be the management model of the 21st century.”

This is how Thorkil Sonne expressed his dream at the first global conference of the Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation) in May. The conference was held in May in Copenhagen, Denmark, hosted by Nokia Danmark and with participants from a total of 25 different countries, united in a common goal to create career opportunities to improve the life for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The conference was another step in reaching theSpecialisterne Foundation’s (former Specialist People Foundation) goal to create 1 million jobs globally for people with ASD and similar challenges.

The time is ripe for global change

We had a couple of fantastic days with inspiring presentations, knowledge sharing and cross-border collaboration, with an atmosphere clearly reflecting that the time is ripe for global change in attitude and approach with regard to employment of people with ASD. It was inspiring to see  so many like-minded people gathered, dedicated to realizing the vision of creating respect and understanding for people with ASD, with a goal to get more such ‘specialist people’ into the global workforce.

A sustainable business model and strong partnerships

The first day of the conference focused on an introduction to the concept of ‘dandelion management’ and the conceptual framework behind Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation). With a very strong and sustainable business model based on numerous successful case studies, Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation) introduced some key partners, such as AshokaLions Club and World Autism organization. We also heard several examples of companies who have successfully worked with specialist people from through their partnering with Specialisterne, including companies such as Nokia, Deloitte, the largest Danish telecoms company TDC, and innovative IH Food from the food-technology sector.

Getting operational – replicating “Specialisterne” around the world

On day two the focus was on operationalization matters with a deep dive on the operational framework of Specialisterne and the different key elements of the sustainable business model. We reviewed cases from countries that have already started up Specialisterne operations, or are about to. We then had three break-out sessions where discussions of “how” continued. We also shared current plans to start up Specialisterne operations in more countries including Ireland, Spain, Germany and Poland, and the U.S. The ambition is that many more countries – not just the Western world – will become part of the vision.

The dream of leadership in the 21st century

We’ve had a huge amount of positive feedback in the wake of the conference, proving that there is both support and confidence that it is time to change attitudes, and work towards helping people with ASD become valuable and worthy members of the global workforce. Robert Austin, professor at CBS expressed his view of leadership and innovation in the 21st century:

“Innovation needs variation…placing value on differences creates innovation. That’s the key for 21st century management.

Specialist People Conference was the first of its kind, but it is certainly not the last!  Since the end of the conference, planning for starting up Specialisterne around the world has truly accelerated. Teams are now progressing the planning in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, USA, Turkey, Singapore, Dubai and many other countries.

See pictures from the conference here: