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2018 National Conference

Don’t miss out! Network with colleagues from other states, learn about innovative practices for inclusive employment, get the latest public policy and funding resource updates, and enjoy Disney! For more details on why you should attend click here.


The National APSE Conference is the only national conference focused solely on the advancement of Employment First. The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) National Conference brings together more than 1,000 community leaders, businesses, and individuals with disabilities from across the country and around the world to network and discuss state-of-the-art strategies to ensure equitable employment for all citizens with disabilities.

What Does Employment First Mean?

Employment First means that employment in the general workforce should be the first and preferred option for individuals with disabilities receiving assistance from publicly funded systems. Simply put, Employment First means real jobs, real wages. Employment in the general workforce means regular jobs like everyone else in society; in typical work settings, working side-by-side with people without disabilities, earning regular wages and benefits and being part of the economic mainstream of our society. APSE supports Employment First to facilitate the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and community.

Why Should I Attend?

The APSE National Conference is the largest event for inclusive employment. The event attracts key influencers and stakeholders representing employers, communities, agencies, and services. APSE members are the very people and organizations impacted by Employment First; citizens with disabilities and their families, universities, rehabilitation counselors, agency personnel, and service providers. The National Conference is designed to provide actionable ideas, state-of-the-art programming, as well as tools, solutions, and technologies that will empower you to take back directly to your business, home and community to impact change. Come ready to learn, network, and do!


What Have Others Said about Attending an APSE Conference

"I look forward to the APSE National Conference each year because it’s nice to meet people from all over the USA who share my passion for Employment First. As an individual with a disability who has been employed for over 36 years, I know that competitive and integrated employment works and makes a big difference in a person’s quality of life. The APSE National Conference helps me learn new things that I can then bring back to Alaska to grow our chapter and our work in advancing real jobs and real wages for individuals with disabilities.”
- Lucy Odden

"Attending the National APSE conference gives you an opportunity to network with others around the county who are working to support Employment First and full inclusion in communities. It is a great time to learn and share innovative approaches that you can take back and implement in your community. There are a variety of presentation tracks that meet a variety of personal and professional interests. I personally have enjoyed the Students and Families for APSE pre-session as it promotes self-advocacy and inclusive employment opportunities for transition-aged students."
- Heather Lindsey

Do Employers Ever Cover the Cost of Attending?

Yes, many do! But it depends on the policies of the individual employer. To make your ask easier, APSE has put together a template letter that you can modify to best suit your needs.

Monday, June 25th, 2018


9AM-12PM: 3 Concurrent Preconference Sessions and CESP Morning Exam
1PM-4PM: 3 Concurrent Preconference Sessions and CESP Afternoon Session
3PM-7PM: Chapter Leadership Institute and Reception (Invite Only)

Learn more about the pre-conference on the pre-conference tab. You can learn about the CESP Exam here.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

2018 National APSE Conference
Day 1: General Conference

7AM-5PM: Exhibiting
7AM-8AM: Continental Breakfast
8AM-9:15AM: Opening Session: APSE Welcome, Followed by Opening Keynote Dale DiLeo
9:30AM-10:45AM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
11AM-12PM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
12PM-1:30PM: Lunch on your own
1:30PM-2:45PM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
3PM-4PM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
4:15PM-6:30PM: Welcome Reception

We have designed a track (just on Tuesday) that is specifically for organizations that are looking for more information on transformation. These sessions will be led by Subject Matter Experts who serve the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Project (EFSLMP) in partnership with the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

2018 National APSE Conference
Day 2: General Conference

7AM-5PM: Exhibiting
7AM-8AM: Continental Breakfast
8AM-9AM: APSE Membership Meeting (APSE Members only) and Awarding: Public Policy Award, Got Mike! Award, Wendy Wood Award, Dave Hammis Award and Rebecca McDonald Award.
9:15AM-10:30AM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
10:45AM-12PM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
12PM-1:30PM: Luncheon, Keynote Bev Harp and Awarding: APSE Employer Awards, Personal Achievement Award, Professional Award, and Organizational Best Practices Award.
1:30PM-2:45PM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
3PM-4PM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
7:30PM-9:30PM: FL APSE Family Fun Event
7PM-11PM: APSE Karaoke at Coronado Springs Resort

We have designed a track (just on Wednesday) that is specifically for employers who are looking for more information on hiring diversity initiatives and practices. These sessions are employer-led for employers.

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

2018 National APSE Conference
Day 3: General Conference

7:30AM-8:30AM: Continental Breakfast
8:30AM-9:30AM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
9:45AM-10:45AM: 10-12 Concurrent Breakout Sessions
11AM-12PM: Closing Remarks and Keynote Alison Barkhoff

Learn More about the 2018 National APSE Conference Keynote Speakers

Dale DiLeo, Opening Keynote, June 26th, 2018

A widely sought-after speaker and consultant, and well-known advocate for people with disabilities, Dale DiLeo has provided training throughout the US and in Australia, Canada and Europe on community inclusion for persons with disabilities. Dale has trained over 150,000 participants over the past 40 years, serving as the keynote for the European Union of Supported Employment in Oslo, Norway and presenting again in Barcelona, Spain. He has consulted with state and private agencies, universities, professional associations, and corporations. He is the Past President of the Board of the Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE), and is the lead author of that organization’s highly respected Ethical Guidelines in Supported Employment. His latest book, Raymond’s Room, focuses on ending the shameful segregation of people with disabilities in community life.
Bev Harp, Luncheon Keynote, June 27th, 2018

Information will be posted soon!
Alison Barkoff, Closing Keynote, June 28th, 2018

Alison Barkoff is the Director of Advocacy at the Washington, D.C. office of the Center for Public Representation. She works on policy and litigation related to community integration and inclusion of people with disabilities, including employment, housing, education, Olmstead enforcement and Medicaid. She served as an appointed member of the Federal Advisory Committee for Competitive Integrated Employment of People with Disabilities. She has recently co-authored several articles related to federal policies to promote employment of persons with disabilities. She is a co-chair of the Consortium for Citizen’s with Disabilities Long Term Services and Supports Task Force, policy advisor on employment to the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination, leader of the HCBS Advocacy coalition, and founding member of the Arlington Inclusion Task Force.

From 2010 to 2014, she served as Special Counsel for Olmstead Enforcement in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  In that position, she led the Division’s efforts to enforce the right of individuals with disabilities to live, work and receive services in the community.  Under her leadership, the Division issued its first Olmstead guidance and was actively involved in Olmstead litigation across the country.  During her time with the federal government, Ms. Barkoff also worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on finalizing rules governing Medicaid-funded community-based services and on guidance related to Medicaid funding for employment and housing supports for people with disabilities. She also worked with the Department of Labor on the implementation of its new home care rule in Medicaid-funded disability service systems. She has also worked at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and at a number of other public interest organizations on Olmstead enforcement, disability discrimination, Medicaid, employment, and special education cases. She speaks nationally and publishes articles on disability and civil rights issues.


June 25, 2018 – Pre-conference & CESP Exams
June 26-28, 2018 – General conference


Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
1000 West Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-1000, US

About the Resort:

Enjoy beautiful Lake Buena Vista at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. The venue provides a relaxing escape featuring Spanish-style haciendas, stunning courtyards and scenic nature trails as well as bike rental, a jogging trail, and arcade. The perfect setting for business and pleasure.


Four world-famous Theme Parks, unlimited recreation, world-class shopping, and savory dining will ensure your stay is unforgettable! Whether looking for one-of-a-kind networking opportunities with colleagues, magical vacation experiences with family and friends before or after your meetings and events, or simply finding time to relax and unwind, take advantage of everything Walt Disney World® Resort has to offer.

Walt Disney World Resort offers something for everyone. Don't miss your opportunity to spend a few extra days, relaxing at luxurious spas or creating magical Theme Park memories with family and friends. Take advantage of extended room rates (subject to availability) and specially priced Theme Park tickets to make the most of your visit.

Room Rate:
$169/night — The room rate is available for stays between June 18 and July 6. Feel free to add on a few days and make a vacation out of the trip! The room rate is $100 off the regular price and as this is a peak travel time rooms at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort are difficult to come by if not part of a block. Rooms are limited and are first come first served. To attain this rate, reservations must be made on or before May 18, 2018.  Call (407) 939-4686 to reserve or go to the online reservation site. The hotel will charge a portion of your reservation total rate at the time of reservation.
Park Entrance Fees:
As an attendee of the 2018 National APSE Conference, you will enjoy Special Meeting/Convention Theme Park tickets. Advance purchase lets you skip the lines at the Theme Park ticket windows, save money, and customize your free time to suit your individual agenda. Register now and book your travel plans early to save more money!
Conference Rates:
 Early (ends Mar 2) Middle (ends Mar 31) Late
Professional Member  $376 $476 $576
Non-Member  $476 $576 $676
Student/Family Self-Advocate Member  $226 $301 $351
Non-Member  $326 $401 $451
One-Day Registration Member  $226 $226 $226
Non-Member  $326 $326 $326
 Group Registration Group of 5  $1,380 $1,980 $2,580
If you plan to pay by check, please note that all checks must be received by March 2, 2018 in order to qualify for the early-bird rate.
Employer Support Template Letter

Register now and book your travel plans early to save more money!
Conference Attendee Cancellation Policy
Cancel by April 1, 2018, receive a full refund minus a 25% processing Fee Cancel by June 1, 2018, receive a 50% refund minus a 25% processing Fee


The CESP Certification opens the door to improved professional advancement and job opportunities, increased income opportunities and adds credibility with your employers. CESP certification is a national, portable individual credential. Exam will be held on June 25th. Visit the CESP webpage for more information.
Make the most of the National APSE Conference by attending a Pre-Conference workshop! These workshops are designed to be intensive, collaborative conversations around specific topics. You will discuss state-of-the-art strategies to ensure equitable employment for all citizens with disabilities.


Monday, June 25, 2018
Morning Session 9 am to 12 pm
Afternoon Session 1 pm to 4 pm

Pre-Conference Session Options:

National APSE is offering 6 engaging pre-conference sessions on Monday, June 25, 2018.

Three Available Morning Sessions (9 am to 12 pm):

Morning Session #1

On-the-Job Support: Upgrading the Job Coach’s Toolbox

“You’re hired!” These words can be among the greatest we hear as employment support staff, but also can be daunting. Will this job be a good match? How do I ensure employee success? How do I know what supports to provide? These questions and more have a direct impact on the success or failure of an individual’s competitive employment placement. This seminar will provide a comprehensive look at the ever-important role of a job coach. Topics covered include setting employer expectations, assessments, fade plans, handling disciplinary issues, fostering independence, the art of check-ins, use of adaptive technology, and more! From date of hire to date of independence, participants can expect a breadth of information and answers to many common questions around fostering success in the workplace, as well as learning about new tools to achieve more success with less time and resources.


Ryan Aldrich, New England Business Associates (NEBA)

Morning Session #2

Scary Broads take on Customized Employment: World Café style

Struggling with high staff turnover? Inadequate funding sources? Old mindsets? Incremental steps to change? This session is exactly what you need to start off your APSE conference. Join a committed, thoughtful and determined group of women affectionately known as “The Scary Broads”, as they facilitate a number of small group discussion related to barriers to Customized Employment. No one knows better than the Scary Broads the obstacles that get in the way as we support people to work to realize their ideal career. In this half day pre-conference session we will start the day using group brainstorming to list the road blocks in our way. The team will then set out, using the World Café style of problem solving to turn the road blocks into speed bumps. If you like to be a part of a team trying to solve problems, have some ideas of your own about tricks of the trade you have used, then this is the pre-conference session for you.


A formally informal community of powerhouses, Scary Broads can be found in more than 39 states and are most notable for their fierce commitment of creating pathways to Employment First. Comprised of self-advocates, service providers, family members, state and federal leaders, Scary Broads work collectively, and individually, to eliminate barriers, produce outcomes, and ensure change happens. There are no shortcuts to effecting change but there are tools, and in this group, you will find more than 150 combined years of grassroots experience. Facilitators include: Karen Lee, Debbie Ball, Gail Fanjoy, Stirling Peebles, Heidi Maghan, Erin Leveton

Morning Session #3

Policy in Action: How to Formulate your own Vision Quest

Do you have a policy goal you would like to achieve but aren’t sure how to get started? Come learn about Vision Quest, a three-phase approach to policy development. The Office of Disability Employment Policy, with the help of Subject Matter Experts Abby Cooper and Doug Crandell developed the Vision Quest Replication Manual, Using Collaboration and Aligning Resources to Achieve Systems Change within State Government, a month-by-month guide for best practices to create meaningful policy change.


Rose Sloan - Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Abby Cooper - Independent Consultant Doug Crandell - Griffin Hammis Associates

Three Available Afternoon Sessions (1 pm to 4 pm):

Afternoon Session #1

Let’s Talk Money: Financial Independence for People with Disabilities is possible!

People with disabilities live in poverty at a rate twice that of their non-disabled peers. In fact, many people with disabilities have never managed a budget, opened a savings or checking account, used a Social Security Work Incentive, applied for an assistive technology loan or understood how to build assets. However, we know that financial education, benefits planning, savings opportunities, and tax advice improve positive behavior and reduce negative behavior for low-income earners. We also know that the best time reach individuals and teach them about their money is at a point in time when it’s needed… such as during a job search. Join the LEAD Center and National Disability Institute as we discuss strategies such as benefits planning and work supports, employment, free tax preparation, financial education/financial coaching and asset development. You will learn the importance of economic stability, strategies that support economic advancement, and how to use these strategies with public benefits such as Social Security Disability benefits to improve the economic stability of job seekers!


Elizabeth Jennings - National Disability Institute (NDI) Marlene Ulisky - Social Security Administration (SSA)

Afternoon Session #2

Customized Employment and Discovery: New Approaches and Partnerships for Success

Customized Employment (CE) became a part of federal law with the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014. CE is an approach to hiring, retaining and returning to work that matches a job seeker’s skills, abilities and interests to the needs of an employer. Self-Guided Discovery (SGD) and Guided-Group Discovery (GGD) lay the groundwork for CE. Both serve as an alternative assessment tool that identifies the strengths and ideal conditions of employment for job seekers with disabilities. GGD/SGD assists people in securing and maintaining employment by supporting them in small groups or individually to create their own individual “blueprint” to guide their job search process. LEAD Center staff will discuss the pilot projects it is supporting that use GGD/SGD, review materials and resources to support Discovery and Customized Employment that have been shown to be effective in working with youth and adults with significant disabilities, and share the curriculum to implement GGD/SGD in their communities.


Rebecca Salon - National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities (LEAD Center) Christopher Button - ODEP Nancy Boutot - National Disability Institute (NDI)

Afternoon Session #3

Provider Transformation 2.0

- More information to be announced soon!

Pre-Conference Rates:

APSE Member Pricing Non-Member Pricing
One Session (Either Morning or Afternoon) $110 $160
Two Sessions (Both Morning or Afternoon) $160 $210

Pre-Conference Attendee Cancellation Policy
Cancel by April 1, 2018, receive a full refund minus a 25% processing Fee
Cancel by June 1, 2018, receive a 50% refund minus a 25% processing Fee

For 29 years, APSE has been the only national organization with an exclusive focus on integrated employment and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities. APSE is a national nonprofit membership organization, founded in 1988 as the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst!

The National APSE Conference brings together businesses, individuals with disabilities and community leaders from across the country and around the world to network and discuss state-of-the-art strategies to ensure equitable employment for citizens with disabilities.
Based on past conference attendance, we anticipate 1000 registrants. Last year the APSE Conference brought together representatives from 47 United States and Washington D.C., Canada, Singapore, Chiba, China, Saipan, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, Turkey and Finland!

Exhibitor Information

National APSE is offering 2 Exhibiting Opportunities at the 2018 National APSE Conference:

2018 National APSE Conference Exhibiting Information and Contract

Sponsorship Information

How to Register as a Sponsor:           
Reach out directly to Jenny Stonemeier to discuss sponsorhip opportunities.
Email Jenny at

2018 Exhibitor and Sponsor Prospectus
Each year, APSE honors individuals, organizations and employers for their individual and collective contribution to Employment First. We invite nominations for the 29th Annual National APSE Conference: “Imagination Drives Transformation”. APSE would like to honor those who have excelled in the following Award Categories:

The Professional Award

The Professional Award aims to recognize an individual for outstanding state-of-the-art practices and professional achievements in Employment First as a job coach, job developer, employment specialist, or other agency personnel.

The Organizational Best Practice Award

The Organization Best Practice Award aims to recognize an organization for outstanding accomplishments in promoting state-of-the-art practices in Employment First.

APSE Employer Award - Large & Small

The two APSE Employer Awards for both Large (50+ employees) and Small (less than 50 employees) aim to recognize employers in the public and private sectors for outstanding achievements in advancing Employment First.

APSE Personal Achievement Award - Citizen with a Disability

The APSE Personal Achievement Award aims to recognize an individual's personal achievement, through integrated employment or self-employment. Note that the nominee must be an individual who experiences a disability.

Public Policy Advocate of the Year Award

The Public Policy Advocate of the Year Award distinguishes an individual who has excelled in grassroots advocacy to ensure that local, state and/or federal policies meet the goal increasing Employment First. The Public Policy Advocate of the Year is someone who inspires others to make a difference by engaging with elected officials and key stakeholders in discussions to promote policies that support the mission of Employment First!

Wendy M. Wood Award

Wendy M. Wood is the founding Executive Director of APSE. To begin this organization took great vision, effort, determination and risk. To honor her contribution to this organization and to the overall field of supported employment and Employment First, APSE’s Board of Directors established this award. The Wendy M. Wood Award recognizes emerging leaders in developing a vision and creating action toward full inclusion of citizens with disabilities in our society.

Dave Hammis Innovation Award

Dave Hammis was an incredible innovator in the field of community employment. His creativity and fresh approach to supporting individuals in integrated jobs-whether in a business or through self-employment inspired many of us to see beyond the realities of what we thought possible. To honor his contributions to this organization and to the overall field of supported employment, APSE has established this award.

To honor Dave’s contributions to APSE and Employment First, this award is offered to individuals or organizations who demonstrate innovation in the area of technology, customized strategies, and/or self-employment for individuals with significant disabilities.

“Got Mike!” Fund Educational Leadership Award

Dr. Michael McAllister was a tireless advocate regarding employment for all people and a dedicated APSE friend. He was a true lover of life and inspired others to find and follow their dreams. The “Got Mike!” Fund was created in his honor to perpetuate these passions and zest for life, and to help increase opportunities for others to live fully regardless of issues of disabilities they may have. This award has been established to continue his quest for educational advancement.

To honor Dr. McAllister’s contributions to the advancement of integrated employment and the ongoing educational advancement of professionals interested in the field. We continue his legacy by honoring a graduate student (masters or doctoral) whose leadership and commitment toward integrated employment is outstanding, passionate, and furthering the inclusion of all people in the world of work. Award winners will receive $1,000.

APSE Rebecca McDonald Award for … State Chapter Leader

Rebecca McDonald was a tireless advocate for supported employment and dedicated friend and promoter of APSE. She passed away in August of 1999 after a long and valiant struggle with breast cancer. She was one of supported employment’s greatest advocates, serving APSE in various ways for 11 years. She was the organization’s founding Vice-President, served as its President for three years, and was an officer for the APSE Foundation until a few months before her death. Rebecca deeply believed in the principles APSE was founded upon, and she supported and encouraged others to give and share resources to make those principles a reality.

To honor Rebecca’s contributions to APSE and the employment of people with disabilities, this award is offered to APSE chapter leaders who demonstrate exceptional leadership, tireless volunteerism and extraordinary commitment to the mission and vision of APSE in their work with their state chapters.

2017 Award Winners

Professional Award: Sandy Hanley
Best Practices Award: Hope Haven - My Choice Employment
Employer (small) Award - less than 29 employees: Bagel Sphere
Employer (medium) Award - 29-249 employees: Lane County Developmental Disabilities Office
Employer (large) Award - 250+ employees: Lane Transit District and Harry S. Truman VA Hospital
Wendy M. Wood Award: Elizabeth Jennings
Rebecca McDonald Award: Chaz Nickolaus
Dave Hammis Innovation Award: Tricia Jones Parkin
Personal Achievement Award - Individual with a disability: Glenn Dukes and Rachel Shuld
Public Policy Advocate of the Year Award: Senator Mark Stoops