2023 National APSE Board Nominee: John Wardzala, NY
2023 National APSE Board of Directors At-Large Candidate
The area(s) that best represents your current position/experience:
Service Provider or Manager
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):
As Director of The Kennedy Collective’s Mobility Services Department, I promote Employment First through my department’s travel training program that teaches individuals with disabilities how to independently and safely use the public bus and rail systems throughout Connecticut to get to real jobs for real wages. I am passionate about ensuring inclusion, building communities, and challenging the status quo, and traveling training have helped make that happen by helping people with disabilities gain employment.
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)?
Significant relevance to be a voice for persons with disabilities who otherwise would not have a seat at the table on a state and national level.
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)?
I can bring support and awareness of APSE to support its mission to my transportation connections at paratransit districts and transit agencies across Connecticut.
John Wardzala is the Director of The Kennedy Collective’s Mobility Services Department, making Employment First possible through his department’s travel training program that teaches individuals with disabilities how to independently and safely use the public bus and rail systems throughout Connecticut to get to real jobs for real wages. John previously worked as Outreach Coordinator and Paratransit Eligibility Assessor at The Greater New Haven Transit District and prior to that was The Kennedy Center’s Mobility Manager for South Central Connecticut where he focused on improving the social determinants of health of individuals with disabilities by bringing awareness of public transportation options. John is currently on the Board of Directors at The Connecticut Association for Community Transportation (CACT) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Coalition of Connecticut (ADACC). John earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in interactive telecommunications with a focus on neural interface technology from New York University. “Although my pre-transportation career highlight was presenting a self-developed assistive technology design to Stephen Hawking at an M.I.T. Educational Forum (see attached), nothing compares to the satisfaction of knowing individuals with disabilities have achieved the necessary independence and confidence required to gain employment by learning how to safely ride public transportation through the travel training instruction the Kennedy Collective’s Mobility Services Department offers.”