Emily Munson, Indiana
2021 National APSE Board of Directors At-Large Candidate
How many years have you been involved in integrated employment/supported employment?
The area(s) that best represents your current position/experience:
Advocate, Family Member, Person with a Disability, State agency staff/Senior Attorney/Protection and Advocacy Service Provider
Describe your history/nature of involvement/interest in integrated employment/supported employment.
I am 36 years old and, as a person with a severe disability, have been involved in planning for employment since approximately sixth grade. Professionally, I led Indiana Disability Rights’ Employment Team for five years, assisting clients with disabilities resolve disputes with public and private employers, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and local employment networks. This advocacy was completed through a variety of means, from informal negotiation to federal court litigation. Prior to my transition to Indiana Disability Rights, I was an attorney and administrative law judge for Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration. In that role, I primarily advised the state’s Medicaid agency and Division of Mental Health and Addiction.
Currently, I have transitioned to a Senior Attorney position at Indiana Disability Rights and continue to be involved in Employment First advocacy. A couple of years ago, the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities provided funding for the Work to Include coalition. I am a member of the coalition’s Advisory Council and have provided webinars regarding the employment rights of people with disabilities, collaborated with the State Personnel Department to develop disability training materials for human resources professionals, and discussed Employment First on the Inside Indiana Business television show. My colleagues and I are pushing for state agencies to actually implement Employment First legislation passed in 2017, and we continue to advocate for the state to become a model employer for people with disabilities. A fun fact about me? Just before the pandemic, I was invited to give a TEDx Indianapolis Talk. The subject was disability employment, of course! If interested, you can watch it at this link: https://youtu.be/GwJKRHihLrw.
How will you be able to contribute to the growth and improvement of APSE as an organization?
APSE has conducted some terrific advocacy, but the organization should continue to grow. Specifically, I am eager for APSE to embrace its commitment to advance employment for all people with disabilities. In my experience, these efforts have traditionally been led by employment service professionals, rather than people with disabilities. Additionally, when I have attended APSE conferences – both in Indiana and nationally – the individuals with disabilities given speaking roles have been primarily individuals with intellectual disabilities. While these contributions are undoubtedly valuable, there are more voices that need to join the discussion.
I hope to add my perspective to the Board, as an individual with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type 2. I sleep on a ventilator at night and require assistance with every activity of daily living. However, I am a Senior Attorney at Indiana’s protection and advocacy system. I realize that I am incredibly privileged to have accomplished gainful employment as an individual with a disability, and I believe I could contribute unique insights to the APSE Board if elected. I would not assert that I am self-sufficient, but I’ve achieved a level of interdependence that I hope others can experience.
In addition to the personal insights I can share, I believe my professional background would help advance APSE’s mission. Again, many of the individuals currently advocating for Employment First implementation come from social work, education, and other social service backgrounds. I have two law degrees and a Master’s in Philosophy. This background has developed my critical thinking skills and shaped me into a zealous advocate. If elected, I will tirelessly continue my efforts to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities and explore opportunities for collaboration with my peers.
Emily Munson is an Indianapolis attorney with a passion for disability rights. She serves as Indiana Disability Rights’ Senior Attorney for Health Care and Policy, conducting litigation for individual clients and systemic advocacy projects. Prior to that, she led the agency’s employment practice group. Earlier still, Munson was an attorney and administrative law judge for Indiana’s Family & Social Services Administration.
In 2017, Munson graduated with distinction from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law with her LL.M. in Health Law, Policy & Bioethics. Her thesis addressed patient autonomy in the context of traumatic injury. In 2010, Munson earned her J.D. with a health law concentration and M.A. in Philosophy. She graduated with honors from Hanover College in 2006.
In 2019, Munson spoke about disability employment at TEDx Indianapolis. She was recognized by The Indiana Lawyer as an Up & Coming Lawyer in 2015 and was Ms. Wheelchair Indiana 2009.