Workforce in Central Massachusetts: Tim Murray, CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce will make the opening address with the status of current workforce shortages and needs in the Central Massachusetts area.
Keynote Speaker: John Elder Robison, author and Neurodiversity Scholar, shares his experiences, in employment and life, as a person on the autism spectrum.
National Trends in Employment for People with Autism: Leslie Long, VP of Adult Services at Autism Speaks will present national trends that are creating new and innovative ways to expand employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Autism Works at SAP: Tanya Regli, Executive Director of The Arc of Philadelphia provides an overview of the three years The Arc has been working with SAP to gain employment for people with autism. She will describe the process they have developed for the sourcing, training, onboarding and retention of people with autism to become employees. She will identify the benefits and advantages realized by SAP and other employers they have developed in eastern Pennsylvania to meet their workforce needs by hiring of a neurodiverse workforce.
Central Massachusetts Workforce Needs Assessment Results: Nationally the unemployment rate for people with autism is very high. It is estimated to be between 70 and 80% in some sections of the country. HMEA and Clark University developed a survey, which was distributed to employers, individuals with autism and family members of a person with autism, to learn more about this important issue. The results will be presented by an individual with autism, a family member of a person with autism, and an employer who employs people with autism.
Asperger/Autism Network (AANE) Speakers Bureau: Jamie Freed, Director of Adult Training at AANE will moderate a panel of four neurodivergent adults on the autism spectrum, diagnosed from early childhood to late adulthood, who will discuss their employment experiences. Types of jobs, environments, supervisors and fields that worked and did not work will be discussed.
Afternoon Workshop Descriptions (please chose one workshop when registering)
1. A Conversation with John Elder Robison for People on the Spectrum
Join John Elder Robison for a conversation about employment and life experiences as a person on the autism spectrum. This workshop is for people on the spectrum only.
2. Employment Across the Spectrum
Each segment of the autism spectrum faces unique challenges when it comes to finding and keeping employment. Based on the model of Extraordinary Ventures out of Chapel Hill, NC, Flutie Spectrum Enterprises (FSE) is creating micro-businesses to employ adults with autism. FSE aims to employ individuals spanning the spectrum, offering permanent paid employment and creating new micro-businesses based on the skills and interests of the employees.
Presented by: Brittany Collins, FSE Managing Director and Lisa Borges, Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism Executive Director and Allison Daigle, The Autism Alliance of MetroWest Co-Executive Director
3. Employment for People with ASD
This presentation and conversation will include the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s (MRC) employer engagement, relationship building and job placement initiatives with major corporations, including CVS and Home Depot. As well as a description of outreach efforts to high school students. An MRC consultant, a man with autism, will discuss his role in technology at the agency.
Presented by: William Allen, MRC Director of Statewide Job Placement Services and Steven Lueng, MRC Data and Research Consultant
4. Mass General Hospital Internship Program
The Aspire Internship Program is designed to help adults with high cognitive autism spectrum disorder or a related profile navigate the various aspects of the work environment while gaining important on-the-job skills. Key program features include our Aspire career counselors and weekly seminars designed to assist interns in identifying and managing their challenges while recognizing and developing their strengths.
Presented by: Leslie O’Brien, Aspire Internship Program Manager
5. Current Practices in Employment Services
Under the direction of a professional farmer, TILL Farms utilizes growing produce and small animal care as ways to teach vocational skills which can be generalized to life and social skills. The end product offers a particularly good way of understanding the sequence necessary to start form inception of produce to the end product. This is particularly beneficial to people with autism in that it offer tangible, concrete results in a teaching environment.
HMEA has been providing siteless employment services for 20 years including job placement for many people with autism. This presentation will focus on the successes and challenges, including the process and supports designed to place a young woman in her job as ADDP receptionist.
Presented by: John Stevens, TILL Director of Special Projects and Stephanie Guitard, HMEA VP of Employment Services
John Elder Robison, Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA and author of some of the most widely read stories of growing up on the autism spectrum and living with Asperger’s syndrome, including Switched On, Raising Cubby, Look Me in the Eye and Be Different. John’s writing has been translated into 18 languages and is sold in over 60 countries. He is very active in his efforts to support and promote research leading to therapies or treatments that will improve the lives of people who live with autism in all its forms. He’s widely known as an advocate for people with autism and neurological differences.
William Allen, Director of Statewide Job Placement Services, MA Rehabilitation Commission
William (Bill) Allen has worked over 20 years for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC). He began his career as a job placement specialist. In his current role as Director of Job Placement Services, he oversees employer development and engagement statewide for 24 field offices of MRC. He works with organizations such as Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital; who was nominated by MRC and won the White House Champion of Change Award (2014) for their innovative strategies for hiring, promoting and retaining individuals with disabilities. Most recently, the MRC Vocational Division was nominated and won the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Gould Award which recognized CVS and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission for their ground breaking work with “job-driven” training programs for pharmacy technicians.
Lisa Borges, Executive Director, Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism
Lisa Borges is the Executive Director of The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism where she is responsible for the successful leadership and strategic development of the organization as well as the consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives. Since Lisa started with the Foundation in 1999, over eighteen million dollars has been raised through various fundraisers and the establishment of partnerships with loyal corporate sponsors. Under her leadership, the Foundation has implemented and funded seven new programs and developed the annual grant program into a widely recognized funding source in the autism community.
Brittany Collins, Managing Director, Flutie Spectrum Enterprises
Brittany graduated from Northeastern University with a BA in International Affairs and minors in Social Entrepreneurship, Business, and Spanish. She spent a month in Chapel Hill, NC working alongside Extraordinary Ventures to study their model and replicate it in Massachusetts. This became Flutie Spectrum Enterprises, which now employs 6 adults ages 18 to 50 in its Office Solutions micro-business, offering mailing, assembly, and shredding services.
Allison Daigle, CTRS, The Autism Alliance of MetroWest
Allison is currently the Co- Executive Director for The Autism Alliance of MetroWest, a program of Advocates and has participated in numerous community education projects at the local and state level. Allison is committed to supporting families with special needs and enhancing the quality of life for all individuals. In 2008, she was honored by the Westborough Special Education Parent Advisory Council and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for her exceptional contributions to children with special needs. Her son Justin was hired by Flutie Spectrum Enterprises as its very first employee and has been working hard for FSE for two years.
Jamie Freed, Director of Adult Training at ANNE
Jamie specializes in serving neurodivergent (Asperger Syndrome and related autism profiles) and trans/gender-expansive adolescents, adults, and their families. Since 2003, as Director of Adult Services at the Asperger/Autism Network (AANE), she has been privileged to hear countless stories from individuals, groups and families, have provided services and supports and have witnessed the growth and change that come from the community. Her therapeutic approach is attuned to the experience of neurodivergent and/or gender-expansive individuals, family members, and parents and based on validation and support for living more full, independent and meaningful lives.
She offers practical, concrete strategies for understanding and navigating an often confusing and rejecting world. She encourages the development of self-awareness, self-advocacy and deeper connection with others to improve overall health and well-being.
Stephanie Guitard, VP of Employment Services, HMEA, Inc.
Stephanie Guitard is Vice President of Employment Services at HMEA. In this role, Ms. Guitard oversees the operation of Employment Programs in Hopedale, Millbury, Plainville, and Sterling. She received a Master of Human Service Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and has an undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. Ms. Guitard has been with HMEA since 2003, and has been working with children and adults with developmental disabilities for more than twenty years in a variety of settings, including group homes, school systems and adult services. Stephanie also worked for the State of Georgia with the Real Choice Grant, transitioning individuals from institutions to the community.
Leslie Long, Vice President of Adults Services, Autism Speaks
Leslie Long is the Vice President of Adult Services for Autism Speaks. In that role, she manages the organization’s mission to promote supports for adults with autism spectrum disorders throughout the country. She has successfully completed an Employment Think Tank, Employment Tool Kit, Residential and Supported Living Guide, web portal page on housing resources, Small Business Initiative and town halls throughout the country, developed a best practices business guide and she supports continuing efforts on employment and community living resources.
Leslie has over 20 years of professional experience in leading federal, state and local advocacy efforts to benefit consumers with developmental disabilities. Her expertise includes supported employment, school to adult life transition issues and Medicaid, specifically home and community-based waivers for individuals with developmental disabilities. Leslie was appointed by NJ Governor Corzine to serve on the “New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force,” received recognition for Advocacy Work on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recognized by the NJ Senate on behalf of her work on a series of bills for autism with autism and received leadership recognition for service to persons with supported employment by NJ APSE.
Steven Lueng, Data and Research Consultant, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
Scott graduated from Clark University in Worcester, MA in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a minor in Geography, and is currently working as a part-time data and research consultant at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission office in Boston, MA. He maintains the job recruitment database system for the Job Placement team there and also does designing and coding for various software applications (such as Geographic Information Systems and Microsoft Excel/Access) in Research and Development. Scott has also worked for other state agencies within the past couple years, including University of MA Medical School and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, and hopes to further utilize his skills and experience through full-time employment.
Michael Moloney, CEO, HMEA, Inc.
HMEA is led by CEO Michael Moloney, who has been with the organization for over twenty years and has managed disability service systems in both public and private sectors for more than thirty-five years. Mr. Moloney received his graduate degree in Education from Northeastern University and completed Harvard University’s program on Negotiation. He is the current Chairman of the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, and founding Chairman of The Caring Force; a coalition of direct care workers, clients, and parents of human services recipients. He is also currently on the ADDP Autism Committee. Mr. Moloney is passionate about the possibilities for technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities, give staff the tools to do better work, and enhance communication among all stakeholders.
Mr. Moloney is the recipient of 2012 Executive of the Year award from the Providers council and was named “Master Social Innovator” by the Boston College Center for Social Innovation for leveraging corporate partnerships at EMC and CISCO Systems to incubate a non-profit IT startup “Cloud4causes.”
Tim Murray, CEO, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Timothy P. Murray became President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce in June of 2013. He leads a team of professionals serving the region’s business community by focusing on economic development, public policy, member services, and other activities that contribute to a vibrant business climate. The Chamber’s mission of recruit, retain, and incubate aims to bring new businesses to the region, retain existing businesses, and nurture those in emerging sectors.
Leslie O’Brien, Program Manager, Aspire Internship Program at Mass General Hospital
Leslie is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with over 10 years of experience working with children, teens, adults, and families in educational, residential, and outpatient settings. As the Internship Program Manager at Aspire, Leslie aims to empower and help interns increase their knowledge, self-confidence, and work experience for use in their employment as well as their everyday lives. While always having a clinical interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Ms. O’Brien began working more closely with individuals with ASD through her work with Aspire in the Explorations program. When the right tools, motivation, and practice are provided, she believes individuals with ASD can reach their potentials and goals.
Tanya Regli, Executive Director, The Arc of Philadelphia
Tanya has served as Executive Director at The Arc of Philadelphia since 2013 with 25 years in education advocacy. She developed the High School Secondary Transition program at Olney Charter High School and co-founded Viewpoints Learning Project and Special Education Alliance of Cheltenham (SEAC) to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities in their schools and community. Her professional career in Philadelphia has included Taller Puertorriqueno, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Aspira, The Philadelphia Foundation and Hispanos Unidos para Ninos Excepcionales (HUNE). Tanya completed the Masters in Social Service (MSS) and Masters in Law and Social Policy (MLSP) at Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and a BA at Georgetown University.
John Stevens, Director of Special Projects, TILL Inc.
John Stevens has been working with TILL for 30 Years. He oversees Springboard, a unique social club for adolescents and adults with learning differences, Asperger’s syndrome, and other unspecified mental health needs, currently serving 140 members. John developed and performs with The TILL Wave Band, a performing Music Group composed of musicians of all abilities and co-developed TILL Games which is in its 22nd year. TILL Games is a track and field event offering a variety of competitive events for over 200 athletes of all abilities. Over the last 3 years, John has developed and overseen TILL Farms, a working farm for individuals with autism and learning differences. TILL Farms is currently located in Westboro, MA.