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Oklahoma APSE Conference

    The 27th Oklahoma APSE Conference! WORK: Where Talent Meet Opportunity

    This event brought together key community stakeholders, individuals with disabilities, family members and educators to network and discuss state-of-the-art strategies to ensure competitive and equitable employment for Oklahoman’s with disabilities. The attendees come from different backgrounds and experiences, but had a common goal:  to see that individuals with disabilities experience full inclusion in the workplace and in the community.

     As stakeholder’s, we strive to move toward employment first, and employment for all. Together we understand Employment First is a declaration of both philosophy and policy stating that:  Employment in the general workforce is the first and preferred outcome in the provision of publicly funded services for all working age citizens with disabilities, regardless of level of disability. Our goal is for the Employment First philosophy to raise awareness of the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.

    The Keynote ‘Lunch and Learn’ with Dick Venne, CEO of Community Enterprises in Massachusetts, provided a variety of successful strategies to develop employer relationships that can lead successful employment for individuals with disabilities; with good wages and benefits. Venne challenged attendees to think big, think differently, and adjust our vision and embrace the practical strategies to leverage employer relationships.

    Attendees had the opportunity to discover how to partner with the Oklahoma Workforce Innovation Board, ways to discover Hidden Talents through Person Centered Planning practices, and methods to develop resumes that Open Doors of Opportunity. The session, Marketing in a Digital World, provided strategies for applying for employment, while other sessions like, Positive Behavioral Supports in the Workplace, Soft Skills Don’t Have to be so Hard, and Assistive Technology Tools that Work for Work provided ideas to enhance career development and work experiences for individuals with disabilities.

    This is a time of evolution in the field of employment services and support for citizens with disabilities and service systems.  The conference encouraged all to move forward and transform our frustrations into visions for a better tomorrow and a plan for action. The events was a wonderful gathering place for energy, enthusiasm, and excitement that will advance improvements in practice and shape the future.

    Celebration of the 2017 Award Winners!

    Oklahoma APSE promotes INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYMENT success for workers with disabilities and SERVICE and SUPPORT EXCELLENCE for professionals and employers through a state-wide award program.  An award ceremony honoring the winners is held in conjunction with the annual Employment Conference. An awards committee, separate from the Oklahoma APSE Executive Council, solicits nominations from across Oklahoma.  After reviewing the submitted information against the award criteria, four award winners are selected from the following categories:

    The Donna Nigh Supported Worker:  An Individual with a Disability

    Direct Service Staff:  An Employment Consultant or Job Coach

    Organization or Business:  An Employer

    The award celebration event Master of Ceremonies was the inspiriting motivational speaker, Emeka Nnaka. Emeka’s life story of how he overcame and what he overcome is truly remarkable. In a moment, his life dramatically shifted from being a 6’5” star athlete to be a wheelchair user as a quadriplegic. He is an in-demand school assembly speaker, diversity speaker, and quadriplegic motivational speaker. He is an Ambassador for the Tulsa Area United Way, playing a key role in fundraising, marketing and community investments. As a speaker, coach and advocate, Emeka inspires other to remain hopeful through life’s circumstance, contribute to their community and pursue their best possible self. You can connect with Emeka at emekannaka.com.

    Congratulations to the 2017 awards winners:

    Donna Nigh Foundation Supported Worker of the Year

    Gregory Brown

    Jason McGlothlin

    Jonathan Fulmer

    Jessica Boone

    Employment Consultant of the Year

    Vivian Naegeli

    Kris Pruett

    Lorri Elston

    Carl Bielstein

    Business / Employer of the Year

    Russell and Kathy Pratt from Runt’s in Muskogee

    Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City

    John Galloway from ACE Hardware in Duncan

    Allison Daghlian from Saint Ann Retirement Center in Oklahoma City


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