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May 9, 2023



The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) today announced it will host a Disability Employment Summit on Thursday, May 18 in partnership with Columbia-Greene Workforce NY. The event runs from 8am to 4pm at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson. It will feature speakers and a panel discussion focused on building collaborative partnerships and expanding the discussion of the New York Systems Change and Inclusive Opportunities Network (NY SCION) pilot project. NY SCION seeks to improve education, training, and employment opportunities and outcomes for adults with disabilities in New York State. NY SCION has been active for one year, successfully funding 27 Disability Resource Coordinators (DRCs) which cover over 40 counties across the state.

“We are committed to ensuring all New Yorkers have access to our services, and that includes those with disabilities,” said New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “This summit is a great opportunity to discuss the barriers New Yorkers with disabilities face and find collaborative solutions to help them find employment and excel in the world of work.”

The Disability Employment Summit is designed to showcase efforts to improve the accessibility and inclusivity of our workforce systems to promote career pathways for people with disabilities. More than 5,000 people with disabilities have been served in NYSDOL’s Career Center system and 1,000 more have secured employment through NY SCION.

NY SCION’s DRCs work to:

  • Increase the capacity of New York State Career Centers to serve individuals with disabilities;
  • Work closely with ACCES-VR and the New York State Commission for the Blind to support collaboration around a job seeker’s employment and/or training goals;
  • Advise the workforce development system on how to effectively promote the participation of individuals with disabilities in existing career pathways systems and programs; and
  • Assist and train the local workforce development areas, career center staff, businesses, community colleges, and training providers on such topics as the ADA, Ticket to Work, accommodations, and assistive technology.

“NY SCION is building opportunities for New Yorkers experiencing disabilities,” said Director of Columbia-Greene Workforce NY Chris Nardone. “New York State Career Centers serve as the ‘front door’ to support employment services for people with disabilities who can experience multiple barriers to employment. SCION is a person-centered and capacity building project that is designed to promote positive systems change in the workforce. We invite government officials, businesses, and others interested in improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities to attend the event.”

The summit will feature several Workforce and Disability experts, including:

  • Melinda Mack, Executive Director of the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP)
  • Doug Hovey, President, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Independent Living
  • Carlee Drummer, President of Columbia-Greene Community College
  • Kerry Wiley, NYSDOL Special Populations Disability Unit
  • Alan Gallagher, NYSDOL Office of Career Development and Inclusion
  • David Whalen, Project Director, Niagara University First/Emergency Responder Disability Awareness Training, Niagara University ADA Coordinator

Panel discussions will include:

  • Kerry Douglas-Duffy, Director, NYSDOL Bureau of Workforce Innovation and Quality
  • Julia Kelly, Acting Director, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)
  • Lisa Brown, Program Specialist, New York Employment Services System (NYESS)
  • Wendy Strobel-Gower, Project Director, Cornell Yang Tan Institute
  • Anne Gallagher Sagaas, Regional Coordinator, New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB)
  • Joseph Tedesco, Statewide Coordinator for Business Relations, New York State Education Department, Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR)

Key partners in NY SCION Include:

  • New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH),
  • New York Employment Services System (NYESS),
  • New York State Education Department’s (NYSED) Adult Career and Continuing Education Services – Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR),
  • New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the New York State Commission for the Blind (OCFS/NYSCB),
  • New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA),
  • New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (The Justice Center), and
  • New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), as well as other community and non-profit partners across the state.

NYSDOL Career Centers provide employment services to all job seekers, including individuals with disabilities. Some of these services include career counseling, resume development, career workshops, computer workshops, job search resources, and placement assistance. For individuals with disabilities specifically, the Career Centers provide physical and programmatic accessibility, and can also provide connections to Disability Resource Coordinators, and partner agencies such as ACCES-VR and the New York State Commission for the Blind. To learn more about these programs, visit the NYSDOL Access for Individuals with Disabilities webpage.

For more information about NY SCION and the Disability Employment Summit, please contact Danielle Palleschi, Disability Resource Coordinator at Columbia-Greene Workforce at [email protected].