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2024 National APSE Board Nominee: William Del Toro Vargas, PA

2024 National APSE Board of Directors At-Large Candidate

MEET THE NOMINEES FOR THE 2024 NATIONAL APSE BOARD OF DIRECTORS: CLICK to read about all nominees before the election ends on March 18.

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

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

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:

Throughout my professional journey, I have been passionately dedicated to advancing competitive, integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Pennsylvania. This commitment is deeply rooted in my broad experience across several key positions, such as Director of Client and Broker Services at Transition Consults Inc., Program Manager at HUNE Inc., and Legislative Advocate for the “I Want To Work” Campaign. These roles have emphasized work experience for high school students with disabilities, leading to the creation of Pre-Employment Transition Services and supporting the passage of Employment First PA, among other initiatives.  My drive in this field stems from a firm belief that access to employment is a basic right that plays a crucial role in achieving independence and self-reliance for people with disabilities. My efforts have been geared towards advocating for policy changes, leading coalitions, and executing programs that ease the transition of disabled youth into employment. I have spearheaded initiatives to raise awareness about the significance of inclusive employment and participated in campaigns such as Medical Assistance For Workers with Disabilities, which seeks to enhance employment prospects for the disabled without jeopardizing their health coverage.  The tangible improvements I have seen—how jobs not only offer financial autonomy but also instill a sense of community and contribution—fuel my motivation. My experiences have provided me with a firsthand look at the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and the widespread advantages of their workforce integration.  Furthermore, my active participation in organizing events like the Annual Youth Leadership Forum and my board memberships, including being the PEAC Treasurer and a member of the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council, affirm my dedication to this cause. These roles have refined my capabilities in advocacy, coalition management, and policy advancement, all aimed at promoting and including individuals with disabilities in the employment sector.  In essence, my zeal for fostering competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities is motivated by a steadfast commitment to fairness, inclusion, and the belief in the transformative impact of employment. My ongoing advocacy for policies and practices that uphold these values is intended to contribute towards a society that is more inclusive and equitable, where every individual has the chance to engage in meaningful work and flourish.

What relevance does/should APSE and its chapters/members have in national and state conversations regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion?

The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) is crucial in shaping national and state discussions on equity, diversity, and inclusion. APSE champions the integration of individuals with disabilities into the workforce, advocating for policies that break down systemic barriers and promote workplace diversity. Their expertise guides the development of inclusive employment practices, making sure that discussions on equity include the representation and needs of people with disabilities. By offering best practices and resources, APSE helps implement these inclusive strategies at the community level, demonstrating the importance of diversity in achieving a successful and inclusive workforce. APSE’s role is essential in ensuring that equity and inclusion principles lead to real employment opportunities for people with disabilities, reinforcing their importance in building a more inclusive society.

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?

APSE is pivotal in shaping discussions on equity, diversity, and inclusion at both the national and state levels, mirroring my career’s dedication to improving job opportunities for people with disabilities. My path has included advocating for legislative changes through the “I Want To Work” campaign, which aimed to educate legislators about the work experiences of high school students with disabilities and Employment First initiatives in Pennsylvania, as well as leadership roles at HUNE Inc. and Transition Consults Inc. These positions have focused on breaking down systemic barriers, fostering inclusive work environments, and helping families understand the value of employment. Living with Autism and a physical disability, I have a profound understanding of the significance of advancing employment, fostering inclusion, and enhancing community engagement. APSE’s efforts to promote policies that support diversity and equality deeply resonate with me, highlighting the essential need for integrated employment opportunities and active community involvement for a more inclusive society. My experiences underscore the importance of APSE’s goals in advocating for fair employment practices and demonstrate the collective work needed to develop workplaces that value diversity. Additionally, as an individual with Autism and physical disabilities, I bring my personal insights into accessing employment, being included in my community, and navigating various systems, further enriching the dialogue and efforts toward inclusivity.

Biography

William Del Toro Vargas is the Family Service Coordinator at HUNE, where he passionately works on behalf of the disability community. His leadership extends to roles such as serving on the PA Rehabilitation Council, where he leads the Legislative Committee and the Hiram G. Andrews Sub-Committee. William’s advocacy efforts include his significant role as the Lead Legislative Advocate for the #IWantToWork campaign, instrumental in the passage of Act No. 26, Work Experience for High School Students with Disabilities, and Act No. 36, Employment First Act. Previously, he was the Treasurer for The Pennsylvania Education for All Coalition, and he continues to contribute as a PEAC council member, a board member of Pennsylvania APSE, and a Staff Consultant for Transition Consults. Recognized for his advocacy in the Latinx community, William ensures the representation of diverse voices in policy-making. His commitment to advocating for people with disabilities and underserved communities in policy discussions guarantees their interests are represented and included. As someone with Autism and Physical Disabilities, William Del Toro Vargas offers a unique and personal insight into his role at HUNE. His experiences with employment barriers and system navigation have prepared him to provide invaluable assistance to families and professionals. By drawing on his personal journey, William is devoted to promoting the inclusion and representation of people with disabilities and underserved communities in policy-making, emphasizing the importance of listening to and incorporating their perspectives in creating inclusive policies.

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