Wesley Anderson, New Jersey
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:
Family Member, Local Agency, Representative, Person with a Disability
Describe your history/nature of involvement/interest in integrated employment/supported employment.
I began down this path at age 11 when the martial arts school my family ran began partnering with disability and foster-care organizations. I saw the passion for equity work reflected in my mother’s eyes and never looked back. Over the past 13 years, I have worked as a military contractor placing “at-risk” youth into jobs after graduation. I have worked in special education and as an employment specialist. Currently, as the Director of Training at The Arc of New Jersey, I train the state’s supported employment agencies on the best practices in the field. Part of this work includes speaking and presenting in other states on a variety of employment/equity-related topics. This often involves working with agencies on ways to create a more diverse and inclusive culture. I am also an individual who experiences a disability. So, whether it is familial, experiential, or professional; my interest in APSE’s mission has lifelong and my involvement is all that I am.
How will you be able to contribute to the growth and improvement of APSE as an organization?
I have always been a big picture, systems thinker. During my first term on the national board, I was privileged to chair its first committee on professional development. We worked to bring the knowledge and legacy of APSE into the present, through projects like updating the APSE Core Competencies.
APSE is, as always, at an important place at a critical time. We need every voice, every advocate, everyone committed to the mission with us. However, many don’t yet see themselves when they look at APSE. I have never let my fear prevent me from asking difficult questions or tackling challenging issues. This is why I agreed to chair the Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion committee. I hope to help APSE combat the systemic racial barriers that impact individuals with disabilities, employment professionals, and limit the number of voices around us when we need everyone to advocate for Employment First.
Wesley E. Anderson is the Director of Training and Consultation Services at The Arc of New Jersey; where he provides statewide technical assistance and customized workshops to employment agencies and schools. Wesley has been providing supports to/for individuals with disabilities and their families for over 12 years. His career has taken him from special education, as a Traumatic Brain Injury specialist, to Employment Specialist in Camden, NJ.
In his current role, Wesley also sits on the national board of directors for APSE and chairs its Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Committee.