Cindy Burns, Georgia
2021 National APSE Board of Directors Southeast Regional Delegate Candidate
How many years have you been involved in integrated employment/supported employment?
The area(s) that best represents your current position/experience:
National Consultant and Trainer
Describe your history/nature of involvement/interest in integrated employment/supported employment.
Serving individuals with disabilities has been my vocation since 1988. It started long before that time since I grew up in a home that served as a foster/adopted family home for individuals who would have been in state hospitals. From a young age, I was able to see the capabilities of individuals that were given a diagnosis at birth that could have held them back from achieving their dreams. It is a passion of mine for individuals with disabilities to have the same opportunities as others in the community, regardless of IQ score, race, or ethnicity.
Building relationships with employers and other professionals in the field has helped me to develop community integrated employment opportunities for many individuals with disabilities in the Savannah area. This work included helping individuals in sheltered workshops move into employment. In addition, I have trained nonprofits, employers, and municipalities on many topics, including diversity and inclusion
In my current position as a National Consultant for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – Project SEARCH, I assist employers, schools, community rehabilitation agencies, and funding agencies with the development of internship programs in 5 southern states. I also provide job development training and consultation to agencies across the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.
My relationship with Georgia APSE has spanned over 20 years as a member, board member, and speaker at both local and national conferences. I received my CESP in October 2019 and continue to encourage others to obtain their certification.
How will you be able to contribute to the growth and improvement of APSE as an organization?
I will bring my expertise and experience with best practices to increase employment opportunities in the Southeast region, including Mississippi that does not currently have an APSE Chapter. I will advocate for community integrated employment, fair wages, and career advancement to be an option for anyone that wants it, regardless of stereotypes and stigmas that may exist. I will provide leadership and support to the Chapter and National Boards as needed to promote the mission of APSE. I have a strong interest in public policy and am interested in serving on the APSE Public Policy Committee. My experience of testifying before Georgia legislative committees related to the importance of Employment First will be my foundation for serving on this committee. One of my strengths is building strong relationships and I will promote the benefits of APSE to people in the southern states to promote APSE and build membership. I am also able to facilitate training at conferences, both in-person and virtually.
Discuss how you will represent the needs of the chapters in your region on the national board and work to strengthen APSE’s chapter structure.
Through regular contact, I will gather information related to the needs of each of the chapters in my region. This will be accomplished by recurring meetings with all the states in the region as well as individual state contacts. I have relationships with leaders in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, and Alabama and will continue to learn about the challenges and priorities from each of these states to report back to national APSE. I will utilize my contacts in Mississippi to develop a chapter. I will also work closely with the Director of Member and Chapter Engagement to identify resources that may assist the Chapters when they are having challenges with their structure, member engagement, and growing their membership.
Cindy Burns, CESP, is a National Consultant for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – Project SEARCH and assists employers, schools, community rehabilitation agencies, and funding agencies with the development of internship programs in 5 southern states. She has more than 25 years of experience working for/with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as a job developer and program director. Throughout her career, she has developed many partnerships with local employers, served on several community boards and committees, and is a graduate of Leadership Savannah. Her community involvement and relationship building led to extensive job creation for people with disabilities. She has been an APSE member for nearly two decades and has promoted Employment First with legislators at the state and federal levels through advocacy and testimony at legislative hearings. Cindy has presented at local, national, and international conferences on topics such as Job Development, Transition from School to Work, and Person-Centered Practices.