Employee Voices

A Voice For Those With Unseen Disabilities

Tina Vineyard has become a powerful ally to the disability community.

Read time: 4.5 minutes

Tina Vineyard has long been a passionate ally to the disability community. It started with her teenage daughter, who has medically diagnosed anxiety and phonological dyslexia – which affects how the brain decodes or orders words based on their sounds – and continued with her advocacy for two young relatives with autism.

Though Tina was already a part of the disability community as a caretaker, a major career move to McKesson brought light to her own personal journey with hidden disabilities. Today, she’s fueling her passion for helping those like her through ABILITY, McKesson’s employee resource group (ERG) dedicated to empowering and connecting people with disabilities and their caregivers.

“Whether through my day job or allyship to the disability community, I thrive knowing I’m making a difference in people’s lives,” she says.

Paying it Forward

For years, Tina has dealt with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disorder. But as it never impacted her work, it remained a personal, unseen struggle – until a new, life-altering disability intervened.

Tina’s McKesson career began in 2013, when the company where she worked was acquired by McKesson. She was initially hired as a new customer implementation manager at McKesson Medical-Surgical – a role that entailed managing the timely and accurate facilitation of onboarding new customers to group purchasing organizations. So she packed up her home in Florida and moved her family halfway across the country to Texas.

Shortly after her move, she was hit with a series of new symptoms, including extreme exhaustion, ultimately putting her out of work for a couple of months. The diagnosis? Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder involving dry joints, rheumatoid arthritis, and unexpected flares of uncontrollable fatigue.

“I didn’t know anything about it, and I didn't know that you could have two autoimmune diseases simultaneously,” Tina, now a senior manager of contract sales support at McKesson Medical-Surgical, remembers. “I worried about what my new manager thought, but she was incredibly supportive, which got me through the rough patch.”

Once she was back in the office, she took on the challenge of leading a team of more than 20 direct reports.

“There’s so much you can do here to grow yourself,” Tina explains. “Through McKesson’s Excel Leadership training program, I learned how to manage a large team in a corporate environment. Through our ERGs, I connected with people of all experiences and backgrounds to be a better ally to all. It’s why I joined all nine of them, including sitting on the board of ABILITY. By doing so, I was able transform and feel not only heard, but empowered to make a difference as well.”

She also found there was much to do to advocate for those in the disability community and to support colleagues with unseen disabilities. Early on, several members of her team had hidden disabilities they didn’t discuss. Wanting to help, but now knowing how, fueled her interest in learning how to become a better ally.

“When people say they don’t feel well, I’ll ask if I can help,” she says. “When they say something isn’t clicking, I’ll ask more questions. It’s our job to educate ourselves on what others need and let them know they’re supported. It’s definitely my job as a leader. I didn't know somebody on my team had dyslexia, but now that I know about my daughter’s condition, it makes sense based on things I was seeing. Now I know how to help.”

Empowering and Connecting with the Disability Community

It’s perhaps no surprise that when a colleague encouraged her to join the board of ABILITY, she didn’t hesitate.

“I wanted to help get the word out that invisible disabilities are real, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to share,” she says. “I am able, and, therefore, I am ABILITY!”

At first, she immersed herself in the community, learning about conditions, potentially insensitive actions or phrases, and how to become a strong ally. She now serves as the operations lead and the liaison with ABILITY’s district lead and national board, assisting with education and event promotion.

She has supported ABILITY’s outreach, from community events for children with disabilities and their families, to suicide prevention walks and Special Olympics programs, to virtual workshops that help ABILITY members better understand disabilities.

“I especially wanted to help those who have children with disabilities,” Tina says. “I encouraged the parent of a child with autism to join ABILITY’s board. Now that colleague is more comfortable talking about it. Simply being heard can feel amazing.”

One of her favorite ABILITY memories was volunteering with her daughter at the 2019 annual holiday party at The Warren Center, a nonprofit dedicated to children with disabilities and their families.

“The children make Christmas decorations, Santa gives them treats, and they each receive donated, wrapped gifts tailored to their age, abilities and needs,” Tina explains. “Seeing my daughter experience giving to and serving others was a great feeling.”

Opportunities to help others have formed the foundation of Tina’s passion for her work with McKesson and ABILITY.

“In a crisis, McKesson is often there, volunteering and donating medical supplies,” she says. “But the support from colleagues, whether you’re sick or just having a bad day, is also amazing. We’re all in it together. I feel I can give back by supporting the causes that are near and dear to my heart, so it’s important to me to be part of ABILITY and speak up for those who can’t.”

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