2023 National APSE Board Nominee: Andrew Karhan, NY

2023 National APSE Board of Directors At-Large Candidate

MEET THE NOMINEES FOR THE 2023 NATIONAL APSE BOARD OF DIRECTORS: CLICK to read about all nominees before the election ends on March 22.

The area(s) that best represents your current position/experience:

Person with a Disability, Family Member of a Person with a Disability, University Staff

Describe your history/nature of involvement/interest in promoting competitive integrated employment in your state. Additionally, explain why you are passionate about competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities (no more than 500 words):

Throughout my 25 years in the field, I have had the unique opportunity to lead efforts around advancing competitive integrated employment of individuals with disabilities at the local, state, and national level. From leading New York State APSE in our efforts to advance employment by advocating for innovation and the expansion of strong systems of support in our state, to then leading New York State’s Employment First efforts from 2014-2019, I have had the honor to embrace APSE’s mission from various vantage points, while witnessing firsthand the change that was made possible through these efforts.  These are indeed challenging times for persons with disabilities in their pursuit of employment and financial self-sufficiency across the United States. While these times have been permeated with significant challenges at all levels of national and state(s) government, a myriad of opportunities have also emerged despite these challenges. I am increasingly encouraged by the heightened emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, but understand our need to engage in deeply embedded systemic work as well as ongoing dialogue to truly ensure the voices of people with disabilities, across all intersecting identities, are included in these change efforts. Thankfully, in my current role in working on two national technical assistance and policy centers, I am in the fortunate to be positioned in a way to advance this work, and ultimately the overall work of APSE.   From the very early days of my career, I was empowered by two wonderful mentors to be a leader in this field and to always hold employment as the first option for individuals at the forefront of every conversation. Along with strong mentors, and my personal and familial connections to the lived experience of disability, my passion and commitment to this work have only continued to grow.  I truly believe we are doorstep of innovation and change in our society, and it is through the shared efforts of APSE, and other organizations and leaders that we have reached this place. With this in mind, I truly look forward to the opportunity to advance APSE’s mission over the coming years. 

What relevance does/should APSE and its chapters/members have in national and state conversations regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion (no more than 350 words)?

As a member organization focused on advancing competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities in our country, APSE provides a critical voice in our conversations with local, state, and national government as well as the business community in ensuring people with disabilities are not forgotten in the equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility conversations. Further, we know from research the DEIA efforts only reach their intended impact when the efforts are done in a systemic and embedded way. Further, APSE has a role in raising awareness in our respective states and organizations on the DEIA activities to avoid, including doing equity to comply with trends, creating token or blanket equity initiatives, only focusing on surface-level work, and leaving the disability community out of the conversations. APSE is comprised of a unique set of leaders with vast influence across our country, and thereby can productively and effectively advance the DEIA conversation. 

What skills, knowledge or lived experience do you have that will contribute to strengthening and growing the financial health of APSE and promoting its mission to advance employment and self-sufficiency for all people with disabilities (no more than 350 words)?

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to be engaged in financially growing each organization of which I have been affiliated.  Whether through specific fundraising efforts or through project/program expansion through grants, it has been an area of my expertise. In fact, since my appointment to the board, I have worked with members of the board, as well as the APSE Foundation board, to explore new fundraising opportunities for both now and into the future. 


Andrew Karhan serves a Project Director at San Diego State University’s Research Foundation -Interwork Institute (SDSURF-II). Andrew has nearly 25 years of experience in the field of vocational rehabilitation, employment services, mental health, developmental disabilities, and transition.  He currently serves as the Project Director of the Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth, as funded by the U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) for SDSURF-II, and works on the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center – Quality Management.  He has administered employment services programs for individuals with disabilities across a number of states, as well as providing technical assistance on the implementation of best practices in employment, youth, and transition services across a myriad of states and organizations across the U.S. He was also responsible for co-authoring and facilitating the vision of Employment First in New York State through the development and implementation of the New York Employment Services System (NYESS); the administration of State’s Administrative Employment Network under Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program; the oversight and implementation of New York State’s Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) project; and the development of a state-wide work incentives navigator system.He believes firmly in the power of employment in the lives of all people and has spent his career finding ways to bridge gaps in systems to ensure that all people with disabilities are afforded the opportunity to engage in meaningful, competitive, integrated employment in their communities.  Andrew has a B.A. in Psychology from Messiah University, a Master’s in Public Administration from the Pennsylvania State University, a Master’s in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, and is completing is Ed. D in Leadership and Learning Organizations from Vanderbilt University.

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