2023 National APSE Board Nominee: Solomon Parker, OH
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):
For two decades, I worked as a provider of intellectual and developmental disability services throughout the state of Kentucky. My career began in direct supports and progressed to case management and then management positions. Supporting people to obtain competitive integrated employment has been a passion of mine for some time. I learned early in my career that employment provider a higher quality of life and provided better outcomes than segregated employment. At various times during my time as a provider, I supervised supported employment programs for persons with IDD and serious mental illness. A highlight that helped ignite my passion in supported employment was attending the Supported Employment Core Training Series in 2014 with Katie Wolf Whaley and Carolyn Wheeler. This training gave me the foundational principles of supported employment that allowed me to better support my teams in the field providing the service. In my role now as the Director of IDD Program Strategy at CareSource, a non-profit health plan headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, my focus is to help create programs, strategies, and practices that promote full community inclusion and participation, personal autonomy and independence, empowerment, and optimal socioeconomic advancement of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While I have been working to create a supported employment framework in our organization to be implemented in different states, I have been championing my organization to be a model employer of hiring persons with disabilities and creating paid internships for young professionals with disabilities. In my view, I want our organization to walk the walk rather than just talking the talk. Not settling for just good enough, but exploring ways we can open doors for all.
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 has helped open many doors and break down barriers in helping people with disabilities achieve competitive integrated employment. The fight is long from being over as group and facility-based programming seems to be on the rise during the DSP workforce shortage. APSE’s focus on facilitating full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and community through recognizing that everyone has abilities to contribute is key and needed in the discussion at the national and state levels regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. At the national and state levels, disability and accessibility is overlooked when talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion. APSE is and can continue to be a leader in ensuring people with lived experience and advocates are included in the conversation at the national and state levels.
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)?
As I previously mentioned, my professional background is working as a provider of IDD services for two decades. This experience provided me with an understanding of helping to achieve CIE outcomes for people and it gave me insight into the systemic barriers in the provider world as to why competitive integrated employment has not been widely achieved, which includes rate structures. Now in my role as Director of IDD Program Strategy at CareSource, I have been introduced to a variety of different and innovative models across the nation that have helped to achieve CIE outcomes. My skill is to be able to talk the language with providers about supported employment services and be a bridge in conversation as a growing number of states are considering moving the LTSS population into managed care. Currently, I sit on two boards in my community, a FQHC and a non-profit community-based organization promoting literacy to a marginalized community. In both organizations, I am involved in the financial committees serving as the Finance Committee Chair of the FQHC. My knowledge of financial health from the lens of an administrator is a strength of mine.
Solomon Parker is the Director of I/DD Program Strategy at CareSource. CareSource is a nationally recognized nonprofit health plan with a mission to make a lasting difference in our members’ lives and communities by improving their health and well-being. In this role, Solomon has been responsible for leading, implementing, and driving strategies, partnerships, and innovations supporting persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Solomon is committed to supporting empowerment, advancement, inclusion, and independence, especially in the areas of employment and the use of technology. Prior to his current role, Solomon supported individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the provider community with several Kentucky Medicaid 1915(c) waiver agencies for nearly two decades. Solomon lives in Louisville, KY with his wife and two young children. He sits on the boards of Family Health Center, Inc. and The Decode Project. In 2022, he was recognized by the Louisville Metro Council for his outstanding community service during its Black History Month celebration.