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.


Pre-conference Events

October 17, 9am-3pm: Service Contract Act Compliance and Best Practices

Melwood is proud to join with GSA National and BDO USA, LLP to offer a training on the Service Contract Act Compliance and Best Practices. The event will take place Tuesday, October 17 from 9am-3pm at Melwood’s Arlington offices (750 23rd Street South, Arlington VA).

For more information click here.

To register to attend click here.


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

Learn more about our honorees and purchase your ticket for the event here.


See a full agenda and speaker line up on our event page: 2023 Inclusion Through Policy Innovation Conference – Melwood

Featuring high-level experts from:

  • Federal Agencies: NASA, General Services Administration, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
  • Federal Contractors: KPMG, GDIT, NFP, Enabled Intelligence, EY, Global Connections to Employment
    And more!
Day 1 October 18
1:00pm Event Kick-off: Keynote Address
1:45pm – 2:45pm Federal Acquisitions Panel: How Federal Agencies Can Incentivize Disability Hiring

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. During this session federal procurement experts will provide examples of how federal procurement could be used and is being used to advance the hiring of people with disabilities.


  • Jeff Koses, Senior Procurement Executive, GSA and Chairman AbilityOne Commission
  • Julia Wise, Director of Procurement Management & Policy Division, NASA


  • Larysa Kautz, President and CEO, Melwood
3:00pm – 3:45pm Inclusion in Action: Pipeline Pilot Case Study

When seeking talent, many employers don’t know where to start and struggle to find partners to help them fulfil their hiring needs. AbilityOne nonprofit agencies are an ideal partner for federal contractors to achieve compliance with disability hiring. This session will explore staffing pipeline arrangements and how federal contractors have leaned in on disability hiring. Panelists will discuss some of the challenges faced and how those challenges were overcome as a result of the partnership.


  • Scott Gibson, Chief Strategy Officer, Melwood
  • Peter Kant, Chairman and CEO, Enabled Intelligence
  • Scott Nycum, Vice President, Inclusion, Diversity & Giving, GDIT


  • Suzanne Heckenberg, President, INSA/INSA Foundation
4:00pm – 4:45pm Inclusion in Action: Subcontracting to an AbilityOne Nonprofit Case Study

This session will present a case study of the operationalization of a prime-subcontractor relationship between the federal contracting community and an AbilityOne Nonprofit Agency. This panel will 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 leverage subcontracting partnerships to improve compliance and the bottom line.

Subcontracting to an AbilityOne Nonprofit Panel


  • Mark Kessler, Vice President of Innovation and Business Development, GCE
  • Art Springer, Account Executive Defense Health, Cherokee Federal


  • Jayna Rust, Partner, Thompson Coburn LLP
Day 2 October 19
8:30am Keynote Address:  Taryn Williams, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, 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. 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.


  • Raja Kushalnagar, Professor and Director of the Information Technology Program, Gallaudet University
  • Rachel Payne, Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy, Didlake
  • Daniel Blouin, Professional Recruiter, NGA
11:00am – 11:45am Fireside Chat: Neurodiversity Playbook
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch Break
1:00pm – 2:00pm Ensuring People Succeed at Work

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. 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 grow talent.


  • Kay Sargent, Director of WorkPlace HOK
  • Sean Hoffman, Partner, KPMG
  • Jason Carr, Technology Coordinator, NFP
  • Lori Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader, EY
2:45pm – 3:45pm Success Stories: The Employment Journey of Federal Employees and Federal Contract Employees with Disabilities

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.


  • Chad Brown, Service Desk Technician, CodePlus
4:00-6:00 pm Networking Reception – Hosted by the Alliance for Expanding America’s Workforce



Supporting Partners

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Blue rectangle with wording National Organization on Disability

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