2023 Inclusion Through Policy Innovation Conference

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DATE: October 18, 2023

LOCATION: National Press Club
529 14th St NW,
Washington, DC 20045

Register for the conference today!

All are invited to join us by registering here.

If you are a federal employee or event speaker or moderator, please register here.

The Inclusion through Policy Innovation Conference is a national conference to educate, inform, and advance change in government contracting to foster and grow employment for people with disabilities. This important conference will bring together federal contractors, government procurement officials, policymakers, and social enterprises to identify and leverage procurement for the common good.  The conference includes educational sessions, networking, relationship building, and practical business solutions that will equip attendees to capitalize on upcoming opportunities, particularly in the IT, security, defense, and construction sectors.

Join us October 18-19 to hear from acquisition specialists, procurement professionals, and experts in disability employment to gain a competitive advantage and build a more inclusive workforce.

October 18, 8am-10am: Melwood Ability Awards


Day 1 October 18
1:00pm – 1:05pm Event Kick-off: Keynote Address

Eliana, Zavala, Office of Federal Procurement Policy

1:45pm – 2:45pm Federal Acquisitions Panel: How Federal Agencies Can Incentivize Disability Hiring

Federal procurement agencies are exploring new ways to incentivize the hiring of people with disabilities through the bid proposal process. During this session federal procurement experts will provide examples of how federal procurement could be used to advance the hiring of people with disabilities. Gain a competitive advantage in the bidding process by hearing from agencies themselves talk about efforts to utilize tools at their disposal to encourage greater employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Moderator: Larysa Kautz


  • Jeff Koses, GSA
  • Julia Wise, NASA
3:00pm – 3:45pm Case Study: Pipeline Pilot [Click here to watch session]

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act directs employers to take action to hire, promote and retain individuals with disabilities. When seeking talent to satisfy this hiring goal, many employers don’t know where to start and struggle to find partners to help them fulfil their hiring needs. AbilityOne nonprofit agency are an ideal partner for federal contractors to engage to meet their Section 503 hiring goals. This session will feature a case study of the partnership between Melwood and Enabled Intelligence. Panelists will discuss some of the challenges faced and how those challenges were overcome as a result of the partnership.

Moderator:  Suzanne Heckenberg, President, INSA/INSA Foundation


  • Elizabeth Foster, Melwood
  • Lauren Bacon Smith, Enabled Intelligence
  • Scott Nycum, GDIT
4:00pm – 4:45pm Case Study: Subcontracting to an AbilityOne Nonprofit [Click here to watch session]

The federal government uses subcontracting to motivate prime contracts to engage disadvantaged groups in the federal contracting sphere. While this has traditionally been applied to providing opportunities to small business, veteran-owned business, women-owned business, etc. there are many advantages to developing similar relationships with AbilityOne Non-Profit Agencies. This session will present a case study operationalization of a prime-subcontractor relationship between a private sector federal contractor and an AbilityOne Nonprofit Agency. The panelists cover how the relationship developed, challenges or issues that arose throughout the course of the contract and how they were overcome, as well as benefits each party realized as a result of the relationship. Panelists will also discuss lines of business where they might be more opportunities for private sector federal contractors to subcontract to an AbilityOne Nonprofit.

Moderator: Jayna Rust


  • Mark Kessler, GCE
  • Art Spring, Cherokee Federal-Defense Health
Day 2 October 19
8:30am Keynote Address:  Taryn Williams, Office of Disability Employment Policy
9:15am – 10:30am Finding Your People: Recruiting and Outreach

A dedicated effort to hire people with disabilities can demonstrate a company’s commitment to developing a fully inclusive workforce and fulfill critical compliance requirements. Yet employers can struggle with finding the right candidates and the right recruitment partners to fill positions. This panel will introduce you to experts on where to find talent and how to make those relationships last. Our panelists will share best practices around outreach and hiring, address legal questions around accommodations and help attendees enrich their understanding of the recruitment ecosystem for people with disabilities.

Moderator:  Charles-Edouard Catherine, NOD


  • Raja Kushalnagar, Gallaudet University
  • Rachel Payne, Didlake
  • Daniel Blouin, Professional Recruiter, NGA
10:30am – 11:00am Networking Break
11:00am – 11:45am Fireside Chat: Neurodiversity Playbook [Click here to watch session]

Moderator – Elizabeth Foster

Featured Panelist:

  • Teresa Thomas, MITRE
  • Hala Annabi
12:00am – 1:00pm Lunch Break
1:00pm – 2:15pm Ensuring People Succeed at Work [Click here to watch session]

Recruiting the right people is only the first step towards creating an inclusive workforce. Employers also need to ensure that the employees recruited receive the right training and support to thrive and grow. Employee turnover is an issue that every company struggles with, but the Department of Labor found that employers who supported those with disabilities saw a 90% increase in employee retention, both among people with and without disabilities. This panel will examine how companies can create the right environment to help people with disabilities succeed at work, what resources employers can offer and how their management training can help retain and promote the right people.

Moderator: KayAnn Schoeneman


  • Kay Sargent, HOK
  • Sean Hoffman, KPMG
  • Jason Carr, NFP
  • Lori Golden, EY
2:15pm – 2:30pm Neurodiversity Hub Pitch – Teresa Thomas
2:30pm – 3:00pm Networking Break
3:00pm – 4:00pm Success Stories: The Employment Journey of Federal Employees and Federal Contract Employees with Disabilities [Click here to watch session]

People with disabilities are a vastly untapped talent throughout the United States. This session will feature panelists who are federal employees and federal contract employees with disabilities to spotlight the type of talent federal contractors are missing out on if they are not tapping into this population. Panelists will discuss what their lives were like before getting their employment opportunity, some of the struggles during the application/hiring process, how their employer has fostered an inclusive work environment and what it means to have the opportunity to work.

Moderator: Teresa Thomas, MITRE


      • Chad Brown, Service Desk Technician, CodePlus
      • Brian Callahan, KPMG
      • Raymond Montgomery, Outreach Coordinator, Bosma
4:00-6:00 pm Networking Reception – Hosted by the Alliance for Expanding America’s Workforce


Supporting Partners

Rectangle with wording, Intelligence and National Security Foundation and Red star graphic

Blue rectangle with wording National Organization on Disability




Breakfast Sponsor

Reception Sponsor

Session Sponsor

Break Sponsor


Dave Covington


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