The 2015 conference sold out. 

This conference for families, educators, employers and service providers focused on the practical information necessary to find or create employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  Over 125 participants attended from every region of the state.  New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno (pictured) delivered the opening address.

2015 Conference Agenda

8:30am    Registration, Continental Breakfast and Exhibits


9:00am    Opening Remarks and Welcome


Eric Jager, parent and conference producer

Joanne Kaiser, New Jersey Project Director, National Organization on Disability


9:30am    Kessler Foundation Update

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. Learn about key findings and implications of the 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment & Disability Survey.


Rodger DeRose, President & CEO, Kessler Foundation


10:00am   Employer Case Study: The Toys“R”Us, Inc. Differently-abled Hiring Initiative

Toys“R”Us, Inc. established its Differently-abled Hiring Initiative (DHI) in 2012.

Last year, this initiative resulted in the hiring of over 100 dedicated and reliable team members in Distribution Centers around the country. This case study offers insight into the program's objectives, hiring process, utilization of external resources and on-going benefits to the organization.

Jeff Kellan, Vice President, Supply Chain Operations, Toys"R"Us, Inc.


10:45am   Refreshment and Discussion Break


11:00am   Employer/Service Provider Discussion: Successes and Challenges in Employing People with Disabilities

New Jersey employers and vocational service providers share successes in hiring and training individuals with disabilities.  Panelists provide advice on identifying and presenting job candidates for positions in various employment environments.  They offer a frank assessment of the challenges inherent in hiring staff with disabilities. 



Jessica Mayer, Owner, JB Access, Inc.



Jennifer Joyce, Director, Supports Program and Employment Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities

Kevin Mahar, Senior Area General Manager, Sodexo

Muhammad S. Siddiqu, Community Employment Developer, Eden Autism Services

John Toner, Vice President, Information Systems, Prudential Financial, Inc.


12:00pm   Luncheon sponsored by Toys"R"Us, Inc.


Luncheon Speaker:

Alice Hunnicutt, Director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development


1:00pm     Assistive Technology in the Workplace

Assistive Technology (AT) can often be used to allow employees with disabilities to perform job functions which would have been otherwise beyond their capacity. This discussion provides an overview of the types of AT supports that are available including how they are accessed, utilized and integrated into the workplace.



Mike Marotta, Owner, Assistive Technology Consultant, Inclusive Technology Solutions, LLC



Curtis Edmonds, Managing Attorney, Disability Rights New Jersey

Tracy Lee, CCC-SLP/ATP, Assistive Technology Coordinator, The Gramon Family of Schools

Fred Tchang, Director, Assistive Technology Services, Advancing Opportunities


1:45pm   Coordinating Pre-Vocational Skills Development Activities at Home and in School

Many of the skills necessary to work in an office, retail, industrial or entrepreneurial setting can be developed and refined in your own home and in classrooms. Get nuts-and-bolts ideas for facilitating skill development and generalization across settings based on individual interest and ability. Panelists will also offer advice for facilitating productive IEP meetings which include meaningful vocational goals.



Nina Finkler, President, Nina Finkler Autism Consulting



Susan Marshall, Newark Public Schools Autism Coordinator

Kathleen Whelan Ferris, Independent Disability Advocate


2:30pm   Using Community-based Experiences to Develop Social Skills, Identify Vocational Interests and Network with Potential Employers

Many schools effectively use community-based instruction (CBI) to familiarize students with a variety of public settings. The social skills gained in local stores, restaurants, libraries and other public settings may be maintained and further developed through family outings and even routine tasks outside of the home. Entrepreneurial community employers may be well suited to "job-shaping," the practice of creating new jobs to match the interests of the individual, which can have positive effects on employee morale and the bottom line. Learn to create and build on positive experiences by establishing relationships with local merchants and by being a visible member of the community.



Katelynne Collick, Director, Training and Consultation Services, The Arc of New Jersey



Helen Ihde, Workplace Training Program, Freehold Regional High School District

Jane Wilkie, Program Director, Midland Employment Services

Jonah Zimiles, Managing Principal, [words] Bookstore


3:15pm    Refreshment and Discussion Break


3:30pm    Addressing Behavioral and Communication Challenges on the Job

Even with extensive pre-vocational planning and community exposure, some individuals will be challenged in work settings due to behavioral and social issues. What strategies may be used  to develop the skills necessary to engage more effectively with co-workers? What types of supports, schedules and employer accommodations may be used to address these challenges? Panelists discuss the characteristics of employers and work environments which are most likely to adapt.



Daniel J. Baker, Ph.D.; NADD-CC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School



Caroline Kim, Transition Coordinator/Social Worker, Ridgefield Public Schools

Judith Lindenberger, parent

Jessica Short, Training/Consultation Specialist, The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School 


4:15    Closing Remarks


4:45    Networking Reception