New Berlin woman shows others how 'able' she is
Down Syndrome doesn't hold Alexis Malloy back
New Berlin — At 23, Alexis Malloy has a lot most people don't have —an apartment, an iPhone, her own business, a network that includes politicians, a boyfriend, a steady job, a wealth of community involvement and, it just so happens, an extra chromosome.
The New Berlin High School graduate has Down syndrome but that didn't stop her from being the first in Waukesha County to complete the 18-month small business program through the state's Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.
She created A.J. Special Services, which combines copier equipment leases with clerical work agreements for several small companies throughout Waukesha County. She also works with schools to help provide work experience for other students with disabilities.
"Our whole goal was sustainable employment. If you start your own business you can make the accommodations to ensure your success," said Ron Malloy, Alexis' father who is also the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin.
A job and a life
Alexis graduated high school in 2011 and has enjoyed repetitive clerical duties.
"I love it now," Alexis said. "I can go really fast."
Ron Malloy said that, as a parent, he felt it was important to provide Alexis with the same opportunity other high school graduates had for employment.
"She's got a great work ethic," he said. "You know the single biggest reason people with developmental disabilities don't have a job five years after high school is that they don't understand that they work to buy the things they need and want. That concept took Alexis over two years to understand."
Ron said he is "very proud" of what his daughter has accomplished, including her strides of maintaining an independent lifestyle.
"We want Alexis to have the same life she would have if she didn't have an extra chromosome," he said. "That means she has a job, a place in the community, and she's got an apartment and lives independently and safely on her own."
CertaPro Painters is just one of Alexis' copier and clerical services clients. The company is Waukesha County's largest residential painting company servicing interior, exterior and residential painting needs and has been around for 12 years.
When their copy system was in desperate need of an upgrade, their sales associate mentioned Alexis' service.
"Alexis came in with a very professional presentation and a list of references that were fantastic. We did a one-week trial and it went great. She's just a great asset to our company," said Christie McCowen, marketing director at CertaPro.
That was more than a year ago and now Malloy has a five-year contract to provide services for the company.
"We've had college kids come in who don't provide nearly the quality of work that Alexis provides," McCowen said.
Alexis beams and tells stories of camaraderie in the office and the yearly kickball tournament. Her dad is equally as impressed with the company as they are with his daughter.
"CertaPro is a company that cares about their employees and their customers, but they didn't hire her because she is disabled. They hired her because she had a business proposition that made sense to them," Ron Malloy said. "When you're talking about people with disabilities where they work is half the battle. ... You need somewhere warm and embracing and where they care and that's important to understand. CertaPro is that type of place."
When Alexis saw state Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, at a community event in October, she was not shy about walking up to her and inviting the senator to come see what she does.
Lazich said she was intrigued at the invitation to to spend the day at one of Alexis' clients.
"I was immediately enamored when I learned she had her own business," Lazich said. "I was very interested in learning that not only did she have a women-owned business — that's an accomplishment in itself — but also that she has challenges to go along with it. I was very fascinated with how she went about creating her own business, and it's very impressive.
Lazich came to CertaPro on Nov. 14 to shadow Malloy, as part of the "Take Your Legislator to Work Campaign," which ties into with National Disability Employment Awareness Month each October. The effort invite legislators and other officials to observe someone who has found employment in their community despite having a disability.
Malloy greeted Lazich with a T-shirt and some photos and then immediately got down to business, demonstrating some examples of her daily work and showing off how to use her copy machine. Malloy showed a scrapbook — containing some of her favorite photos of friends and family along with some of her biggest accomplishments — and shared some of her favorite work memories so far.
Lazich was impressed in more ways than one.
"She is a delightful, delightful young lady. I see how her business will grow," the senator said.
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