The 19th Employment Supports Symposium

May 21st, 22nd & 23rd, 2019

NOW is the Time to Make Employment Happen!


Man holding bull horn shouting All Aboard


May 21st, 2019

Speaker Bios
& Information

May 23rd, 2019

Things You Should Know If You Are Coming...

Pre-Symposium:  The Pre-Symposium session is being held at a different location (see below)

DBHIDS Conference Center
801 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Transportation:  Transportation to Convene Centre

If you are driving, parking for Convene Centre guests starts on the third floor. Lower floors are reserved.

When You Arrive - Directions to the Symposium Space:   Upon Arrival  (PDF)  (WORD)

Lunch: No food is to be brought into the Convene Centre. Continental Breakfast is provided both days.

Pre-Symposium: Lunch is Provided
Day One: Lunch is ON YOUR OWN (see lunch recommendations)
Day Two: Lunch is Provided

Speaker Bios and Information

Pre-Symposium Session

Picture of Tim Vogt, StarFire
- Tim Vogt | Starfire -

TIM VOGT has worked at Starfire since 2000. He is charged with innovating best practices in two key areas: organizational change and family directed community engagement at Starfire. In 2006, he was named Executive Director and assumed responsibility for an outing program serving hundreds of people with disabilities, and day programs serving 150 adults with disabilities. In 2009, with the support of the Board of Trustees, Tim led Starfire on a strategic planning process to transform Starfire from an organization that offered large one-size-fits-all group outings and day programs to an organization that supported people with disabilities in being integrated in their community, individually.

Symposium: Day One - May 22, 2019

Picture of Carol Blessing
~ Carol Blessing ~

Carol Blessing, LMSW has earned national recognition as an expert in person-centered practices and planning, during her 35 years in the disability services field. Much of this time, Carol directed employment initiatives, including school to work within high school settings. She is the author and director of the landmark Citizen-Centered Leadership intensive course of study and international community of practice ( Currently, Ms. Blessing serves on the faculty of the Cornell University Yang-Tan Institute in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations where she has spent the past two decades directing statewide cross-system level impact and change initiatives focused on person-directed integrated community-based outcomes, with emphasis on employment, for people with disabilities.


Picture of Diane Perry, PEAL
~ Diane Perry | PEAL ~

Diane Perry has over twenty years of education, advocacy and family leadership experiences. Diane has worked in the field of disability with many statewide agencies. She is currently the Eastern Region Parent Advisor for the PEAL Center in Philadelphia. PEAL is the Parent Training and Information Center in the state. In addition to her work at PEAL, Diane was appointed by the Governor to serve as Chair of the State Special Education Advisory Panel. Diane’s son David, 26, received special education services; he is currently attending college, working part time, and recently voted on the board of Self Advocates United as 1(SAU1). She recently completed and received a certificate in Partners in Policymaking.

Michael Walling, MEd Over the past 26 years I have presented over 2750 workshops on Social Security benefit programs, Medicaid, and Medicare throughout the United States.  My focus is on how working affects the benefits an individual with disability receives from the federal government.  Previous to this, I was a special education teacher, school administrator, director of vocational services, and consultant.

Patti Trexler, CESP has been providing job development support at Penn-Mar Human Services since March of 2017. She earned her Marc Gold & Associates certification in the Discovery Process in December 2017 and the APSE CESP certification in March 2018. As a job developer, she has customized positions for 15 people during the last two years and is currently supporting 8 job seekers.

Kristen Mattei is the Director of Community Supports at Job Path, a without-walls program that provides individualized supports in the community.  Kristen believes that all humans deserve the opportunity to live full lives, including the chance to experience love, success, failure and appreciation.  For over a decade, Kristen’s passion has been working towards improving the lives of those with disabilities and finding ways to make their lives truly whole.  As a working artist with a degree from Pratt Institute, she brings a creative, collaborative and candid approach to tackle these complicated issues.

Stacy Kyle is the Director of Business Development and Partnerships at AHEDD and serves as the Project Director for AHEDD's business initiative, Disability:IN Pennsylvania.  She is responsible for new business development, making brand building strategies and identification of potential market segments. She directs, establishes, maintains, and plans the overall policies and goals for a business development effort.

Chelsea Lutts is the Director of Employment Services at SPIN located in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery and Lehigh counties. Chelsea holds a Master’s Degree in Education with concentration in Special Education from Arcadia University. Chelsea is a Certified Employment Support Professional and received her ACRE Certification in Customized Employment. Chelsea manages 24 Employment Specialists, who support people with intellectual, developmental, and autism spectrum disability to meet their employment outcomes. She leads a highly effective team providing supported and customized employment with evidence based results. Chelsea’s team successfully supports over 250 people to achieve their employment goals and a life of possibilities!

Imani Barbarin is a disability rights and representation activist, blogger, writer and public speaker. She is an expert on the ways the disability community uses social networks and how to build online communities. She is known for her viral hashtags, #DisTheOscars, #AbledsAreWeird, #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow, her blog and her work with Forbes.

Picture of Jessica
~ Jessica Stover | Networks ~

Jessica Stover, MS, ATP likes to think of herself as a life long student.  When she “stumbled” onto Reiki 6+ years ago at a local community class held at a department store of all places, she felt a shift and a curiosity spark.  Since this time, she has tip toed in with inquisitive skepticism  while studying various realms of bodywork.  Not one to dive in head first, Jessica quietly studied, questioned and explored what bodywork can do for herself and for others.  She has had the honor of being a part of the Networks’ Wholistic Practices team since it’s inception.  Jessica is currently enrolled in massage school at The Valley School of Healing Arts in Port Trevorton, PA and is a Reiki II as well as a Reflexology practitioner.  She continues to be enamored with the intricacies of the human condition and experience and will tell you story after story of change she has witnessed in others she has had the privilege to walk with as well as change within herself.

Symposium: Day Two - May 22, 2019

picture of Beth Barol
~ Beth Barol, PhD | Widener ~

Beth Barol, PhD - Widener University, has dedicated the past 40 years to   serving and supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who also have challenging behaviors. After working in a community- based agency for 19 years, she served for 10 years as Clinical Director of the PA Office of Mental Retardation’s  Training and Technical Assistance Initiative, as a full-time consultant.  Her areas of special interest include: Positive Approaches with people with IDD and challenging behaviors including co-occurring mental illness, the effects of trauma, and neurological differences. She works on the behalf of these individuals through her clinical roles as well as through her experience in Group Process, Conflict Resolution, Partnership Building, Leadership Development, System Change, and Management. Beth is currently the Associate Dean and Director of Widener University’s Center for Social Work Education. She initiated and co-directs the certificate in IDD associated with the MSW program as well as the Clinical Services for Vulnerable Adults (CSVA) clinic,  and consults regularly in the U.S. and internationally.

Randy Loss is the Employment First lead for the PA Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS).  He has worked with a variety of disability populations, such as mental health, substance abuse and brain injury, but his focus over the past eight years has been working with individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system. His has served as lead staff with the state VR office on several projects to improve employment outcomes for those with disabilities in the criminal justice system, including liaison to the PA Department of Corrections and the State Board of Probation and Parole. He has been working with several state VR agencies nationwide to support transition services to opportunity youth.  His current work with OMHSAS is promoting Employment First within this agency and providing TA to providers, MH case management, and community partners on evidence-based practices approaches to vocational services to individuals with a diagnosis of serious mental illness.

Jill Gromen, MSW, is the Director of Operations for NJ and Independence Network Services of JEVS Human Services. Jill has worked with people with disabilities for more than 25 years.

Eric Welsh is currently the Vice President of Employment Supports at ACHIEVA where he has been employed for 14 years. Prior to his current role, Eric served as the Assistant Director of Business Operations overseeing both the programmatic and business operations within the vocational department at ACHIEVA. Eric graduated from Bethany College with a B.A. in Sports Management and from Point Park University with a Master's in Business Administration.Eric is a graduate of The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies.

Tracy Lapreziosa, M.A, BS OTR/L is the Assistive Technology Team Lead for Networks for Training and Development Inc. She formally joined Networks in 2017 after working 30+ years as an occupational therapist. Tracy has worked with High school students in Transition to work programs assisting supporting teams with adaptations to help make work experiences comfortable and successful. She has also consulted with agencies regarding accessibility of buildings and workspace accommodations. Tracy has a special interest in the exploration of sensory processing differences and low tech adaptations to make everyone comfortable in their environments.

Allison Smale is a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and has worked for KenCrest for 18 years helping people attain their career goals in the community and supporting them to develop self-advocacy and leadership skills. Alli enjoys developing new strategies for assisting people to build social capital and full participation in their communities. She presents on transition topics and social capital at the state and national level. She is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium at the University of Delaware and is a Certified Employment Support Professional. Alli is working towards her Masters in Community Based Education.

Skyler Deitrick is a Clubhouse Rehabilitation Specialist with Community Services Group. Skyler graduated from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2014. Upon graduating, he was hired at Workabilities Clubhouse, located in Sunbury, PA. His main job duties include providing vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with primary mental health diagnoses. Skyler became the Employment Specialist in November 2017 and Staff Lead in March 2018. He is currently certified as a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practioner (CPRP) and Employment Support Professional (CESP).

Anthony Chan is the assistant program manager for The Arc of Pennsylvania's ADEPT program. He is certified in Discovery, Customized Job Development and Systematic Instruction. He also mentors in Discovery.

Julie Rasmuson is a job specialist for The Arc of Pennsylvania's ADEPT program. Julie is certified in Discovery, Customized Job Development and Systematic Instruction. She is also a certified mentor in Discovery. In addition to her work with ADEPT, Julie served as an inclusion specialist for The Arc of Pennsylvania's Include Me program.

Matthew Sheaffer has been working in the Criminal justice field for the past 12 years, and is currently the Acting Western Region Reentry Administrator for the PA Department of Corrections. Prior to his current position, he worked for the PA Board of Probation and Parole as a Parole Manager in the Offender Reentry Bureau. Matthew has been working with recently released individuals since 2010, and has overseen several projects to enhance the reentry process in Pennsylvania.

Dorenda Hamarlund has been with the PA Department of Corrections for the past 3 years as the Career Pathways Program Manager. Prior to taking the Program Manager position with PA Department of Corrections, Dorenda worked for 17 years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Dorenda has been instrumental in implementing new training and certifications for inmates, and working with outside organizations and companies to increase employability skills within Corrections.

Darlene Hemerka, Esq. is an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The law firm, Greenberg Traurig, sponsors Darlene’s fellowship. Darlene works to ensure that students with disabilities ages 14-21 are receiving appropriate “transition services;” activities designed to prepare the student for employment, further education and independent living. She also gives presentations on reasonable accommodations and disclosing disabilities in the workplace. Darlene graduated from The Pennsylvania State Dickinson School of Law in May of 2016. While in law school, she completed an internship at the United States Department of Justice in the Disability Rights Section.

...Continuing Education opportunities!

This Symposium may qualify for CEUs toward CESP Recertification. Please click HERE to learn more.

Additionally, Social Work CEUs are pending via Widener University Center for Social Work Education


An "Early Bird Rate" is in effect for the
FULL Symposium until April 26, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
-- don't miss out on the savings!