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The second Think Employment! Summit was held on September 16th, 2015. Over 250 students with disabilities, family members, employers, service providers, and partners in state government attended with the goal of sharing best practices and building community partnerships in order to improve employment outcomes for Tennesseans with disabilities.

Participants chose from two tracks of informational sessions, one focusing on the policy and provider work that goes on “behind the scenes,” and the other providing interactive and hands-on experiences for self-advocates, preparing them for their job search as well as competitive employment. Three local school districts joined the event along with post-secondary programs from around the state.

Kevin Burke, a self-advocate successfully employed at Holiday Inn for over four years, brought the crowd to their feet in the kick-off sharing his success story and advice for the youth in the room. Aaron Bishop, Commissioner for the Federal Administration on Disabilities, gave the keynote address, engaging youth attendees in the audience to share their career dreams and emphasizing the great strides Tennessee has made in partnerships to increase employment for individuals with disabilities.

If you attended this year’s summit, we want to know your feedback! Take our survey by clicking the link below:

Think Employment! Summit Feedback Survey

Registration Materials 


(1) Track One: Behind the Scenes Action

A Guide to Understanding the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
Presenter: Aaron Bishop, Federal Administration on Disabilities & Susie Bourque, Department of Labor and Workforce Development

TennCare’s Employment and Community First Choices
Presenter: Lauren Pearcy, TennCare

Changing the Conversation in Tennessee: Tapping the Strengths of Communities for Integrated Employment
Presenter: Erik Carter & Jenn Bumble, Vanderbilt

Employer Panel
Employer Panel Notes
Moderator: Amy Gonzalez, Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Occupational Diploma Overview 
Presenter: Alison Gauld, Department of Education

Vocational Rehabilitation and American Job Centers: Increasing Collaboration
Presenter: Yovancha Lewis-Brown, Vocational Rehabilitation & Briana Johnson, Department of Labor and Workforce Development

(2) Track Two: Employment in Action

 Now Hiring! Self-Advocate and Employer Panel 
Moderator: Various

The Perfect Pitch Presentation 
The Perfect Pitch Handout
Presenter: Various

Hire My Strengths!
Presenter: Lauren Bethune and Kyle Jonas, Vanderbilt

Speak Up and Advocate
Presenter: Ashley Moseley and Heidi Oechsel, Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee

Click Here for Summit 2013

Click Here for Summit 2014

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