2023 National APSE Board Nominee: Darrell Spears Jr., CT
2023 National APSE Board of Directors At-Large Candidate
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The area(s) that best represents your current position/experience:
Family Member of a Person with a Disability, Transition Coordinator, University Staff, and State Agency Representative
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):
I have acquired a hefty amount of involvement in the CIE movement for individuals with disabilities. My experience dates to Job Coaching work I committed to with Goodwill of Western CT in 2013. I furthered my education (16’,19’) to then hold a position with the ID/DD Department here in CT. My everyday work involves advocating, researching, and collaborating with other professionals in my agency to help individuals become competitively employed. This work includes interaction with other national agencies and organizations such as ADS/BRS (Voc Rehab), State Employment Leadership Network (SELN) and even APSE from a state level. In my work, I have met with employers, participated in chambers of commerce and personal letters to state officials to promote employment and recruit champions to support in the movement. I am passionate about CIE, through personal and professional experiences. In my personal life, I have supported family members with obtaining CIE and have since been an advocate for employment for those with disabilities. From a professional level, I have seen many success stories that show and exemplify how an individual’s livelihood and quality of life are influenced by having CIE.
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)?
APSE as a national organization has a duty to ensure that fair and equal opportunity for resources, options and choices are available for individuals from all cultures, economic backgrounds, religion, race and so forth. I am rigorously always advocating here in CT for equal opportunity amongst the entire state as the wealth disparity gap is very wide here. Ensuring the folks who live in urban areas have the same opportunities and resources as those in suburban and in some cases rural areas, is vital.
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)?
To help with financial health and to promote the mission, I have had experience with promoting the missions and goals of organizations much like this, which in turn recruits people to sign up and join the movement. This will help with financial health as more people, through my marketing/networking, will be compelled to sign up and become members. I have been a part of the local chamber of commerce, where meeting employers and discussing the benefits of hiring individuals makes way for more employment opportunities as well as encouraging employers to invest in APSE which in turn supports financial health. I have experience with recruiting sponsorships and donators at the state level.
Darrell Spears Jr is currently a Transition Advisor in the Employment and Day Services unit for the CT Department of Developmental Services. Darrell has been in the field of disability services for 7+ years in positions ranging from Job coach/Job specialist and ABA/Behavioral Specialist and has worked with several different populations ranging from work and research in CT’s homeless population, collegiate Disability Services and Persons with ID/DD with an emphasis on Autism. Darrell’s employment environments have ranged from work in school settings, hospitals, and collegiate. Darrell is a proud alumnus of Central CT State University, having studied Special Education with a specialization in inclusion and transition. Darrell possesses a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Transition Planning/Specialist. Darrell was awarded a CCSU Graduate Academic Award by the Graduate Studies department for academic excellence. Darrell enjoys time with family, the arts, and traveling.