JD-VRTAC and Demand-Side RRTC National Conference, Meeting Employer Demand in a Job-Driven Economy: Diversity, Inclusion, and VR's Evolving Role

Presentation Date: 8/2/2017

The Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center (JD-VRTAC) and the Vocational Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Demand-Side Strategies (Demand-Side RRTC) hosted a national conference on August 2 - August 3, 2017 in Bethesda, MD. 

Meeting Employer Demand in a Job-Driven Economy:
Diversity, Inclusion, and VR's Evolving Role

This conference highlighted demand-side VR research and job-driven practices from VR agencies across the country. Demand-side strategies and research outcomes can help inform state VR agencies’ procedures and policies around improving business intelligence, serving business and consumers as the dual-customer, meeting industry demands, and using labor market information. 

Conference Materials: 

View the Agenda [PDF] | [DOC]

*Additions to the Conference Program

Download the Attendee List [DOC]

Download the Poster Session [ZIP] | [DOC]


Conference Presentations: 

August 2, 2017 1:15-2:05 PM

August 2, 2017 2:15-3:00PM

Business Perspective on Working Relationships with VR: 

August 3, 2017 9:40-10:25AM

Demand-Side Research Findings on Business Relations: 

August 3, 2017 10:40-11:20AM

Business Engagement Strategies for Working with Youth:

Additional Materials:

 

Please email Katie Allen at knowledgetranslation@umb.edu to request a text version of a powerpoint presentation. 


Presenter Biographies

Melissa Alford is a Research Study Coordinator at the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston. She has worked primarily on the index and case studies component of the Demand-Side project. This research involves collecting material on-line and through personal contacts for a database and in-depth interviews with agency leaders and front-line staff, VR counselors, and recipients. Ms. Alford has directed the process of collecting the nominations, consulting with an expert panel to choose the practices, conducting the interviews, analyzing and reporting the data, and disseminating the data to different audiences. Ms. Alford has a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College, a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and is a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counselor.
Jonathan Barad is a Staff Specialist for the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing with the Division of Rehabilitation Services of Maryland. After a long successful career as a certified sign language interpreter, he started his own pop-up interpreting agency and managed all aspect of the business with an entrepreneurial spirit.  He brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm about Deaf Culture, the Deaf Community, and ASL to his current role with DORS.  He assisted several local Starbucks stores on-board Deaf employees by facilitating communication and providing sensitivity trainings.  Jon continues to be an active part of the Starbucks Inclusion Academy, providing support to all stakeholders to create successful outcomes.

Jonathan Bibb is the Director of the Arkansas Career and Training Institute (ACTI) for Arkansas Rehabilitation Services. He also served briefly as the Interim Commissioner of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services. As Director of ACTI, Mr. Bibb led the team effort to achieve national certification by the Council on Occupational Education Accreditation.  The career and technical training provided at ACTI not only meets accreditation standards, but also has multiple industry recognized credentials.

Prior to his role as ACTI Director, Bibb was the apprenticeship program manager for the Arkansas Department of Career Education. He continues to serve as an ex-officio member of the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coalition, which lead to the development of pre-apprenticeship training at ACTI. 

Jonathan earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Arkansas and a Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Hugh Bradshaw is the Employment Services Manager at VocRehab Vermont, based in Waterbury, VT. Mr. Bradshaw is responsible for all employment programs within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and works with businesses across the state to help them meet their staffing needs by recruiting Vermonters with disabilities. Prior to his current position, he was Executive Director of the Vermont Association of Business, Industry and Rehabilitation (VABIR), a statewide non-profit partially funded through a Projects With Industry grant from the US Department of Education. Before entering the world of disability employment, Hugh gained considerable experience in sales and marketing through his work in the hospitality and specialty beverage industries. He has more than twenty years’ experience as a manager, supervisor and business owner, and enjoys helping fellow Vermonters find careers that are meaningful and productive. Mr. Bradshaw majored in Political Science at the University of Vermont.
Joe Buizon is the Supervisor of Employment Services at The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind where he oversees a wide range of work programs from job fairs and internships to mentoring and other   opportunities   to engage with   employer partners. He is a part of the JD-VRTAC team that is aimed at increasing collaboration with the Community Rehabilitation Providers and presenting an organized approach working  with  organizations  to hire  people  who are blind. Joe has a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Kathy Burris serves as Manager, Workforce Initiatives for CVS Health. Kathy joined CVS Health in 2011 and is responsible for development, coordination, and implementation of programs, which provide opportunities for employment across the nation. She also leads the Abilities In Abundance Focus group. This group leads with heart and is dedicated to creating disability programs throughout the CVS Health enterprise.  Kathy has a passion towards building a healthy workforce; she has spent over 20 years in Human Resources promoting career development, employment transitions and creating career opportunities for all employment groups. She currently serves on several Workforce Investment Board of Directors, Soroptimist and Pharmacy Advisor boards. This is her personal commitment in helping people on their path to better health and personal fulfillment.
Jason Clary is the Director of Orientation and Career Center at the Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB). Jason joined OCB in December 2016. As the Director of the Orientation and Career Center, he is responsible for the training and development of clients, both at the training center in the agency's Portland office, and in various locations around the state. Prior to joining OCB, Jason worked in higher education where he held various roles within Career Services and Student Affairs. During his fifteen-year tenure, he spent the majority of time in leadership roles supporting students in their academic pursuits. Jason holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Central Washington University and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Argosy University.
Janet Drudik is the Project Director for the RSA Career Pathway for Individual with Disabilities (CPID) Grant. Janet is also the lead for the Nebraska VR Meet You Where You Are Initiative, which incorporates Rapid Engagement (Progressive Employment) when working with clients and engaging businesses. Janet has a Master of Science Degree in Agency Counseling and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Community Service Counseling and Sociology. 
Jim is an Assistant Director at the Workforce & Technology Center, which is operated by the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services. He manages Workforce Services which includes work readiness and vocational training, customized/partnership training, counseling, employment services and Deaf services. He has worked for DORS for 23 years, starting as a counselor for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in field services before coming to the Center in 2001. He earned his Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the George Washington University.

John Ficca is a Special Educator with a background that includes the U.S. Coast Guard, Hospitality – Culinary Management, and Public School Teaching. His education and certification are in the area of behavioral disorders and he has taught special education students of all grade levels and exceptionalities.

With the help of the Florida Dept. of Education – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Blind Services, and Hyatt, Mr. Ficca developed the program to assist what he calls "the in-betweeners", those whose performance levels far exceed their academic test scores. The Hands on Education program has expanded to 30 Hyatt Hotels across the country and students are trained in all hotel departments. CSAVR and the NET were critical partners - helping introduce this unique program to various State VR Agencies. In 2014, Hands On @ Hyatt was recognized by the White House as one of the most effective and innovative training/employment programs for individuals with disabilities.

At the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), Dr. Susan Foley has focused her research activities on studying vocational rehabilitation practices and innovations in the improved employment outcomes of people with disabilities. She leads multiple national centers funded through the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has worked with more than 30 state VR agencies and is currently active in identifying innovations happening within agencies, transporting them to other agencies, and testing for advances in outcomes. Dr. Foley is the Principal Investigator on the Vocational Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Demand-Side Strategies.
Daniel Frye has been the Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI or Commission) since 2013. Mr. Frye is President Elect of the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB), the professional organization of blindness-specific Vocational Rehabilitation agencies throughout the country; he will become President of this membership organization in January 2018. Prior to his election as President Elect of NCSAB, he served as chairman of the NCSAB Randolph-Sheppard Committee. On behalf of NCSAB, Mr. Frye is also a member of the National Advisory Board to the National Federation of the Blind Entrepreneurial Initiative. Mr. Frye earned his Juris Doctorate at the University of Washington, School of Law, and his BA in History and Government at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina.
Amanda Gerson has been the Coordinator of Vocational Rehabilitation and Transition Services for the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) since January 2016. In addition to policy and program development work, she also manages the Business Relations Unit for the agency. She has previously served in the roles of Assistive Technology Supervisor, Transition VR Counselor, and College VR Counselor for CBVI, and help to develop CBVI’s Work Skills Preparation transition program from 2006-2011 before joining the agency full-time in 2011. Ms. Gerson earned her M.S. in Community Counseling from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, and her B.S. in Clinical/Counseling Psychology from The College of New Jersey.
Keri Gray works as the Program Manager for the Rising Leaders Initiatives at United States Business Leadership Network (USBLN). In her work, she manages the Rising Leaders Mentoring Program and the Rising Leadership Academy for approximately 200 college students and recent graduates with disabilities who are interested in working in the private sector. These programs provide professional guidance so that students are equipped with knowledge and skills to transition from school to work. Additionally, Keri explores disability conversations with college students so that they are prepared to navigate how social topics impact their professional career and networks. Keri influences systematic change by re-constructing opportunities so that they are inclusive for individuals with multiple marginalized identities. Ms. Gray attended college at Abilene Christian University where she received Bachelor degrees in Political Science and Communication, and then a Master’s degree in Communication.
Tish Harris is a Grant Coordinator at Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. She manages the career pathways program, a state-wide grant that provides career pathway opportunities to individuals with disabilities, including individuals served by DBVI. Tish works to create workforce system collaboration by closing gaps, providing transformational training for staff, and promoting career pathways opportunities. Ms. Harris earned her MBA from Eastern Mennonite University.
Jessica is a Staff Specialist for Employment Services at the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services's Workforce and Technology Center. Mrs. Hawes has worked in the Vocational Rehabilitation field for over 10 years, with over 7 years in management. Jessica’s focus throughout her career has been on developing services so individuals with disabilities can gain employment and independence. In her current role, Mrs. Hawes provides supervision and instruction regarding job development strategies and employment activities, builds relationships with business to improve career development and competitive integrated employment outcomes and is working to expand Apprenticeship and Customized Training initiatives.
Melanie Hood-Wilson works as a program director for the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) where she designs vocational programs, develops curriculum, and coaches college instructors. Ms. Hood-Wilson previously taught sixth grade in the Baltimore City Public School System, where she also served as an information resource teacher and helped to develop special education programs.Melanie attended the Public Education Leadership Project at the Harvard Business School, for which she earned a certificate of completion that qualified her to help draft recommendations for the city's systemic preparation for new national (Common Core) learning standards. She holds a Master’s in Education for elementary education from New York's Sarah Lawrence College.
Tom Hooper is an Associate Vice President (AVP) at Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that designs and drives the adoption of innovative and scalable models that catalyze change in education and workforce delivery systems. In his role, Tom helps lead JFF’s Building Economic Opportunity Group, the JFF cluster dedicated to increasing opportunities for low-income, low-skilled adults to obtain the education and skills necessary to attain productive jobs and careers.  Tom’s role includes leading the development of new strategic sector strategies and work-based learning initiatives, building and maintaining effective collaborations with key JFF stakeholders, and supporting strong coordination among JFF’s program and initiatives. Before joining JFF, Tom was a Program Manager with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, where he managed industry-focused grant programs like the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants. Tom has a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Texas – Austin, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College.
Elizabeth (Betsy) started her career at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, CT, assisting adults who were deaf, as they transitioned from a Mental Health Hospital to living and working in their communities.  Since 1993, Betsy has worked for the state of Maine in various capacities, including as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Casework Supervisor, working currently as the DVR director since 2010. Betsy has a B.S. in Counseling from New Hampshire College and an M.S. in Education, Rehabilitation Counseling, from the University of Southern Maine with a post-graduate certificate from San Diego State University in Rehabilitation Administration.  Betsy is currently enrolled in her 4th year at the University of Massachusetts Boston as a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Global Inclusion and Social Development (SGISD). 
Ashley Kavanagh, a Social Services Administrator for the DE Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.  She spent the first 7 years of her career providing employment services to individuals with disabilities, primarily transition students.  Since 2013 she is responsible for staff training and a Program Manager for the transition unit.  Her time is devoted to implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), program development, and collaborating with a variety of stakeholders statewide.  As a key partner in the collaborative programming between VR, school districts and Dept. of Ed., her goal is to create a level playing field for ALL students to meet business and industry demands.  As a strong proponent for the changes WIOA means for the community and for State agencies, training is designed to empower staff to deliver VR services with quality and integrity.
Jocelyn Langrehr, Deputy Director for the DE Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, is graduated from San Diego State University, California with a Master’s Degree in Counseling following a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Special Education. Since 2015, she is responsible for the day to day operations of DVR, policy development and compliance with WIOA.  Her time is devoted to implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), program development, and collaborating with a variety of stakeholders statewide.  As a key partner in the collaborative programming between VR, the Workforce Development Board, DOL and the Dept. of Ed., her goal is to create an inclusive environment for all Delawareans with disabilities in the workforce.
At the United States Business Leadership Network (USBLN), Emily Malsch is tasked with building connections between the Going for the Gold (GFG) participating companies and sourcing partners (higher education institutions, community organizations, state workforce agencies, and state vocational rehabilitation agencies) to establish a talent pipeline of qualified career seekers with disabilities. Emily has over 15 years’ experience in working with programs (in both the private and public sectors) aimed to increase the employment opportunities for individuals of all abilities. She possesses expertise in the public workforce development system and integration of federally funded programs designed to expand services and program outcomes. Additionally, Emily has many years of experience assisting companies to source well-matched candidates with disabilities through various initiatives including the USBLN’s Rising Leaders Mentoring Program, American Job Centers, Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work Program, higher education institutions, and community based service providers.
John Marchioro is the statewide trainer of policy and administrative rules for the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation. He provides additional training outreach to the division's community partners, as well as local businesses and national corporations. John spearheaded the statewide business engagement specialist team training initiative, traveling to each of the five regions in Illinois to orient and onboard VR counselors, employment specialists, and supervisors to Illinois DRS's new business engagement strategy. John is also the Illinois Point of Contact for the National Employment Team (NET).
Kevin Markel is a Transition Program Specialist for the Texas Workforce Commission – Blind Services Division.  He has worked for this agency for more than 13 years in his current role, and previously, as a Transition Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in the Ft. Worth area.  His current job duties focus on statewide initiatives and guidance for providing Pre-Employment Transition Services in Texas.  Mr. Markel is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and holds an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of North Texas.
Joe Marrone is a telecommuting Senior Program Manager for Public Policy at the ICI, based in Portland, OR. Mr. Marrone has served as Deputy Administrator of a large Community Mental Health Center in Washington. He has consulted, trained, published, and lectured across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Asia, and Europe on policy and program issues in employment services, workplace supports, psychiatric rehabilitation, program management, quality assurance and program accountability in human services, workforce development, community rehabilitation, welfare to work issues, and consumer empowerment. Mr. Marrone has over 30 years direct service/administrative experience in delivering rehabilitation services and in community mental health.
Steve Marshall has served as business services coordinator for SCVRD for two years. In the prior five years, Steve served as a local business development specialist. In his current role, Mr. Marshall coordinates business outreach across the state and directs 21 local Business Development Specialists. Steve also serves as agency liaison with the South Carolina technical college system, local workforce development board business service teams, registered apprenticeships, and customized training. Mr. Marshall began is career with the South Carolina Employment Security Commission as a Job Corps Recruiter for 23 years. Prior to joining SCVRD in June 2010, Mr. Marshall served four years as Deputy Executive director for employment & training with the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. Steve received his Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Lander College in Greenwood, SC.
Jeanne Miller was the Director of the University of Arkansas CURRENTS for 21 years, and has worked in continuing education and consulting with the University of Arkansas since 1991. Prior to her UA service she has been a secondary level special education teacher, rehabilitation counselor and program administrator with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services’ Office for the Deaf. Her greatest contribution and delight is the development of future leaders and serving as a mentor in career development, program and curriculum design. Jeanne graduated with a BA in Special Education from the University of Florida and an MA in VR Counseling from Gallaudet University.
DeBrittany Mitchell, MLA, works with multiple national centers at the Institute for Community Inclusion as a Knowledge Translation Associate, and is responsible for the design and implementation of knowledge translation efforts across projects. Her work focuses on the translation of research evidence into usable information for policy and practice development, ensuring products are of highest quality and create significant impact.  Ms. Mitchell currently helps lead and facilitate the ExploreVR web portal and a number of communities of practice, forums, publications and other KT activities that disseminate findings from the Job-Driven VRTAC and Demand-side RRTC projects. Ms. Mitchell holds a MLA from Harvard University with a concentration in Government Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Spelman College.
Milton Moats is a Rehabilitation Specialist with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. Mr. Moats is responsible for the VR case management system design, modification, enhancement, data collection, and RSA reporting.  As a state office specialist Mr. Moats participates in program development, implementation, monitoring, and data collection in the areas of transition, supported employment, community rehabilitation program services, employment development, and WIOA compliance in concert with other ADRS specialists. He also serves as the project manager for the ADRS LMI dashboard efforts under the ICI Demand Side grant. Mr. Moats has a Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Alabama.
Linda Mock is a Senior Policy Fellow and Program Specialist at the ICI. Ms. Mock brings over 40 years of experience working in vocational rehabilitation and special education. Prior to joining the ICI, Linda spent worked in a variety of capacities for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, beginning as a rehabilitation teacher and vocational rehabilitation counselor, and serving as the agency Administrator. Ms. Mock served as president for both the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) and the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB).
Shannon is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Employment Specialist at Iowa Department for the Blind. Ms. Myers works with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) core partners, VR counselors, community agencies, service providers, schools, colleges, employers, and clients on training and education around disability related topics. Shannon leads strategic planning initiatives, conducts large and small group trainings, facilitates groups, and provides technical assistance. Ms. Myers earned a Master of Science Degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling from Drake University, as well as, a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Iowa State University. Ms. Myers has experience working with the following populations: transition aged youth, veterans, substance abuse and addition, supported employment, and individuals with disabilities. She is passionate about systems change and collaboration.
Kimberly Osmani is the Transition Coordinator for Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. Ms. Osmani holds two master’s degrees—in special education and educational administration—and was a special education teacher for10 years. Kim spent four years at the Oklahoma State Department of Education prior to taking her current position. Kim is the President of the National Rehabilitation Association’s Transition Specialties Division, Chair of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition Policy and Advocacy Committee, and Chair of  the Oklahoma Transition Council. Kim spends much of her time developing partnerships and other initiatives for youth with disabilities while also working on her PhD.
As Chief of Staff and Director of Policy at the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, Mary leads program and policy development initiatives.  She spearheaded the JD-VRTAC project at MCB, facilitating the collaboration with the Community Rehabilitation Providers to develop a shared employer business partner database through Salesforce.  Mary has an MBA in Social Policy Management form the Heller School at Brandeis University.
Michael Quinn is Program Evaluation Coordinator with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ARDS). Much of Mr. Quinn’s work is concerned with the development of shared knowledge resources through Business Intelligence. Michael serves as ADRS primary business user and analyst, conducting both scheduled and “on-demand” program evaluation research and analysis. Mr. Quinn holds his Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling and Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation Psychology from Louisiana State University.
Jonathan Richmond has 25 years experience in the vocational rehabilitation field, which includes 16 years with Connecticut's Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind where he has been in the position of a vocational rehabilitation counselor coordinator for the last several years. In this position, he works to improve workforce development services and increase employment opportunities for individuals who are legally blind.  A 10-year Board member of the Capital Workforce Partners, the central Connecticut workforce investment board, Jonathan represents his agency and its clients to ensure their needs are considered in the state employment plans and efforts. He has collaborated with state agencies on various disability awareness events, including the Connecticut Department of Labor to host the annual October Disability Awareness Day.  He holds a Masters degree in rehabilitation counseling from Assumption College in Worcester, MA.  Jonathan is also a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.
Morgan is a Business Development Coordinator at the Oregon Commission (OCB) for the Blind in Portland, Oregon. Ms. Rincon provides outreach and education for employers who are interested in diversifying their workplace and learning more about accessing the pool of qualified and unique job seekers who are Blind and Low Vision throughout the state of Oregon. Morgan acts as a liaison for the OCB to build bridges between the agency and employers to insure that our vocational counselors and clients have access to the resources they need to find, obtain and retain employment. Morgan also provides disability awareness trainings for employers across the state, as well as host tours and educational and networking events at the OCB Training Headquarters in Portland. Ms. Rincon earned her Master's in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from Western Oregon University, and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.
Ralph Roach is the Business Services and Outreach Division Chief at PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). In his current role, Mr. Roach developed a comprehensive OVR Business Services and Outreach Division to offer customized workforce solutions for employers in finding qualified pre-screened employees, while offering on-boarding supports, hiring incentives, and accommodation assistance for successful new talent retention. Ralph is holds membership in the Mid-Atlantic ADA Leadership Network, Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), PA and the National Rehabilitation Association (PRA & NRA). Mr. Roach is the  PA OVR point of contact for the vocational rehabilitation National Employment Team (VR-VET) of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR). Ralph works closely with the Pennsylvania Business Leadership Network (BLN) to connect employers to colleagues on how to bring VR talent into any organization or business.
May-Lorie Saint Laurent, MPH, is a Research Study Coordinator at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston where she contributes to the Vocational Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (VR-RRTC) on Demand-Side Strategies, and to the Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation and Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC). As part of the JDVRTAC, she works as a member of the evaluation team and has conducted a variety of surveys. She has five years of research experience.
Mark Schultz has served as Deputy Commissioner since 2009 when he became the Director of Nebraska VR.  He was the Assistive Technology Partnership Director for the twenty years prior to his current role. His professional experience began with eight years as a Barrier Free Design Specialist at an Independent Living Center. Mark’s career has been focused on creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities to succeed. Mark has worked to establish programs to benefit Nebraskans with disabilities, collaborate with public and private organizations, secure grants, and foster partnerships to advance the mission of the agency. Programs and partnerships include the RRTC on Developing Strategies to Meet Employer Needs in Changing Economic Environments (Nebraska’s Demand-Side Certificate Programs) and RSA’s Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities grant (Nebraska’s Career Pathways Advancement Project).
Jennifer is proud to have worked for CO DVR since 2000. She currently manages the Business Outreach Team, Self-Employment and Supported Employment Programs for DVR. She is a member of the Colorado Department of Labor’s Statewide Executive Team for Business Services and the Colorado Workforce Development Council’s State Technical Assistance Team for Sector Initiatives. She also serves on the SILC as the Public Policy Chair and on the Rural Consortium Workforce Board. She is lucky enough to live in Steamboat Springs with her husband and dog, thoroughly enjoying this mountain environment with regular hiking, camping, paddle boarding and anything else that the day may bring.
As Assistant Director, Libby has responsibilities ranging from personnel and human services to oversight and management of multiple areas of work including collaborative efforts with the Departments of Education and Corrections, supervision of the State’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator and liaison to the Bureau of Employment Services’ Disability Employment Initiative. She reviews, monitors, and evaluates the delivery of agency services and provides guidance to the Division on issues related to youth in transition. Prior to this position, Libby oversaw a 3-year federal grant to improve accessibility for customers with disabilities at Maine Department of Labor’s Career Centers. Libby is currently chair of the State Advisory Panel for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and a member of Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC). Libby has a BA and an MA from the University of Maine and a Certificate of Graduate Studies in Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician III from the University of Southern Maine. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Global Inclusion and Social Development from the University of Massachusetts - Boston.
Kartik Trivedi, MPA, is a Research Associate at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He has contributed primarily in research focusing on Vocational Rehabilitation system through various grants and projects. He uses both quantitative and qualitative research tools in his research. Most recently, Kartik has been working on Vocational Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (VR-RRTC) on Demand-Side Strategies, and on the Job-Driven Vocation Rehabilitation and Technical Assistance Center (JDVRTAC). He is a regular contributor on ExploreVR where he develops data analysis and visualization to present latest findings concerning VR.
Kathy West-Evans is the CSAVR Director of Business Relations for the National Employment Team (NET) at CSAVR. She has been in the field of rehabilitation since 1978. Kathy started her professional career working as a vocational consultant and manager of the Projects with Industry (PWI) program at the Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center in Seattle. She moved into the Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) in 1983 and held a number of positions within DVR during her 14-year tenure with the state agency, including the development of their Business Relations program. Kathy moved to RSA in 1997 where she worked as a VR Program Specialist in the in the Region X office. She was the regional lead on employment services and other areas. Kathy served on the planning committee for multiple RSA – CSAVR National Employment Conferences as well as publications focused on VR’s work with business. She moved to CSAVR in 2005 to develop a national strategy with business which is now known as the NET as well as the centralized Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP). Kathy has her MPA from Seattle University, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington and is a CRC who is fluent in American Sign Language. She has served on the accrediting board for VR counselors and is currently the Chair for the Veterans Advisory Council on Rehabilitation.
Mary V.L. Wright directs Jobs for the Future initiatives that help low-skilled adults move into and through postsecondary education and on to careers that pay family-sustaining wages.  She focuses on leveraging the important role employers must play in improving both pre-employment labor pool and the incumbent workforce.  Ms. Wright has over 20 years of experience connecting the public and private sectors in municipal finance, government affairs, and workforce development. Ms. Wright has an MBA in public/nonprofit management from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in urban affairs from Connecticut College.
Yvonne Wright is the Director of Workforce Development and Business Outreach for Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation.  She oversees the 7 member Missouri VR Business Outreach Team.  In 2014, Yvonne was named to co-lead the WIOA implementation efforts for Missouri’s Department of Education with the Division of Workforce Development.  She currently sits on all WIOA implementation subcommittees and was instrumental in helping to develop the WIOA Combined State Plan.
Aaron Thompson is currently a License District Manager with Starbucks Coffee Company and has been a Starbucks partner since January of 2012.  He is currently responsible for providing consulting  support and service to build capability within each licensee to ensure they deliver legendary customer service to our customers in accordance with Starbucks guiding principles.  Aaron has over 13 years of varied leadership experience supporting the growth and development of the employees he has led, accomplishing operational objectives, implementing new programs, and delivering sales and revenue growth.   Aaron currently serves as a member of the advisory board responsible for our partner networks in the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as a member of UMBC’s Choice Jobs Program advisory board.  Recently he was awarded the “Spirit of Starbucks” award for his work serving the Baltimore community.  His personal commitment is to help individuals realize their potential and achieve what they may not have thought possible.
Denise Jameson has been a Starbucks Coffee Company partner since July 2003. She has managed markets throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. She is currently a District Manager in Anne Arundel and Prince Georges County, MD.  As a district manager,  Denise supports her partners to achieve goals through “Living our Mission & Helping Others Succeed”. Denise has over 29 years of retail management experience supporting the growth and development of retail employees. Her success is a culmination of accomplishing operational objectives, implementing new programs, and delivering sales and revenue growth. Denise is a member of the Armed Forces Network. She also supports other partner networks including recent work with Inclusion Academy. Her passion is helping communities by servicing the people..
Alison Levy is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Disability Employment Program Manager where she leads efforts to improve hiring, inclusion, advancement, and retention of individuals with disabilities. Alison has over 24 years’ experience in the Federal service and previously worked in the non-profit and post-secondary environments.  As a former VR client Alison is committed to supporting partnerships between Federal employers, VR staff, and their clients.
Lori Nairne is the Director of Human Resources at the Grand Hyatt Washington. She has been with Hyatt Hotels for 28 years and the Grand Hyatt Washington for the last 15 years. Prior to that she was with seven other Hyatt hotels across the United States. She has always been a part of the Human Resources function and has partnered with Hands On Education, and Vocational Rehabilitation, for the past ten years.
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Job-Driven VRTAC