2023-24 National APSE Board Member: Katie Taliercio, CO
The area(s) that best represents your current position/experience:
Person with a Disability, Family Member of a Person with a Disability, 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):
My work in Colorado began as a Self-Advocacy Coordinator. I learned many lessons in my role. Most importantly, I have learned the inside-out approach is what works best. Utilizing the inside-out approach means becoming an expert follower, following the lead of the job seeker to land the best-matched employment opportunities. This practice allows the person seeking employment to choose the places they want to work for with clear ideas for how they will contribute to the business’s success. Being a good follower is so much fun, and when these natural matches are secured, lots of motivation goes into finding so many more!
In 2014 I began involvement on our state chapter board. In 2016, our chapter executive team was involved in the drafting and passing of SB 16-077, marking Colorado as an Employment First state with the creation of the Employment First Advisory Partnership (EFAP). From 2016 to 2020, I served as Colorado APSE President. As our membership kept growing, we established working committees to break down barriers to employment. Through the committee work, we have excellent engagement from people with disabilities, family members, employment specialists, advocates, and state employees to address barriers to employment.
Some examples of the committee work are developing a website, well-attended Zoom Meetups to discuss challenges and best practices regarding employment, and designing a statewide benefits counseling guide with infographics to spread the word about what Benefits Counseling is and why it matters. And we were honored to host the National Conference in Denver in 2022!
In 2018, I joined Colorado’s Medicaid Program to work on the Supported Employment policies and practices. In 2019 I was voted on to the Employment First Advisory Partnership (EFAP) as a Subject Matter Expert. In my role for Colorado’s Medicaid Program, I have been directly involved in the recommendations created by EFAP to ensure we are improving policy and implementing strategies that result in more people with disabilities entering and advancing in the workforce. Vital initiatives include; eliminating subminimum wage employment, sequencing and braiding of services, incentive-based payment pilot, data collection and reporting, and professional development with training and certification.
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 can work to have a foundation of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in all efforts and initiatives. If we want to model what we want to see, impactful actions are critical to the mission and values of APSE. Diversity needs inclusion, and inclusion needs accessibility. With accessibility, inclusion, and diversity, we are closer to achieving equity.
These actions include the expectations to; use plain language as much as possible to avoid the segregation we cause with the clinical and systems words we use, engage in consistent reviews of how training is delivered to ensure various learning styles and cultural competencies are incorporated and to disclose and address gaps when our leadership is not representative of membership communities.
Reaching equity through diversity, inclusion, and accessibility requires constant attention, continuous learning, and a solid commitment to prioritizing APSE’s statement on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
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)?
My learning disabilities have contributed to my skill development in many areas. One is in collaboration for mission-oriented work. Because reading, writing, spelling, grammar, and math are challenging, I have learned how to get the job done in other ways utilizing talent in others to contribute to my more conceptual offerings. I know how to tackle issues and barriers with limited tools available and how to leverage resources to honor what we can all collectively bring to the table.
When I joined the Colorado APSE Board, or membership and finances were low. We have since more than tripped both our membership and finances. We recently secured our first grant of $10,000 to create a video about benefits counseling. As we grow, more people want to become active members, which means financial and skill-based contributions.
I love finding the matches between what members are passionate about and what skills they enjoy most to what we need to do to advance employment and self-efficiency for people with disabilities.
Self-Advocacy is one of the most important skills people need to get the support that works best. I will bring my commitment to creating accessible information-sharing strategies, generating new ideas for training and professional development, and my curiosity to learn more about the National APSE Board and Membership. I would learn as much as possible about goals, wish lists, and areas that need more attention to bridge my skills, networks, and dedication where it can be the best possible asset to the mission.
Katie Taliercio has a deep interest and passion for self-advocacy as one of the most essential and reliable skills to make choices and to grow in our personal and work lives. Katie is committed to making information accessible in diverse ways, so self-advocacy is always the guiding principle in how we all advance our careers.
Katie is a Colorado native with over twenty years of experience in social services. She has worked in Chicago and Seattle, and while she misses living in both those states, she also loves being back home in Colorado. Katie has worked as a Direct Support Professional, Training Coordinator, Self-Advocacy Coordinator, Manager, and in Human Resources recruiting and hiring. She believes in the power of meaningful employment matches that enrich the employee’s life and the business’s success. Katie now works for Health Care Policy and Financing (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) as a Home and Community-Based Services Policy Advisor for Supported Employment services.
Katie has served on the Colorado Chapter of the Association of People Supporting Employment First board for eight years as a member of several committees, Chair of the Communications Committee, and former President. Katie also serves as a Subject Matter Expert on the Colorado Employment First Advisory Partnership.