Chris Payne comes to work each day with so much joy. He lives with autism, but never let it hold him back.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany, he works full-time as a commodities specialist assistant in a busy office.

"Sometimes people disagree, but people will respect you and like you if you do a good job and if you do your best," Payne said.

Payne works for New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID), a not-for-profit that connects companies looking for workers or services with organizations that support people with disabilities — people like Chris, who came from the Autism Society. 

"Working with NYSID has helped me strive to reach different goals," Payne said, "and they know I have a journalism background and they try to incorporate that, and the communications team is amazing."

"He has an incredible attention to detail," said NYSID CEO and President Maureen O'Brien. "When there’s a mistake, all of our people will miss it, but Chris will find it."

O’Brien wants local companies to know there’s a valuable workforce of capable people like Chris who often get overlooked.

"Sixty-seven percent of people with disabilities are unemployed, and it is a staggering unemployment rate," O'Brien said, "and we need to do a better job of educating employers about the benefits of hiring an individual with disabilities onto the job."

And coworkers benefit, too. They say Chris brings joy and inspiration to the office.