Events

2022 Inclusion Through Policy Innovation Conference

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DATE: December 9, 2022

TIME: 08:30 AM - 4:00 PM

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

National Organization on Disability Wording with Blue Background
Co-Hosted by National Organization on Disability

As the largest source of employment in the nation, the federal government plays a pivotal role in the increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. With nearly 40% of federal government workers employed as federal contractors, these employers serve as leaders – not just in their respective industries but within the federal government as well.

The mission of Melwood’s Inclusion through Policy Innovation Summit (formerly known as the JWOD Legal & Policy Symposium) is to convene AbilityOne nonprofits, federal contractors, disability rights advocates, Congressional leaders, and representatives from federal agencies to leverage federal procurement policy to increase and expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

In recent years, more employers than ever are tapping into the talent available in the disability community. But there’s far more work to be done to increase opportunities for meaningful work for people with disabilities. The commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility is growing across the public and private sectors – and federal procurement is a powerful lever. Join us for a day of incredible conversations.

Inclusion through Policy Innovation: Procurement with Purpose

Keynote Speaker
Chairman Andres Gallegos
National Council on Disability

 

PROPOSAL:
Inclusion through Policy Innovation. Leveraging Federal Contracting to Expand Disability Employment

GOAL:

Create dialogue and partnerships between AbilityOne and broader federal contractor community to develop sustainable and dependable growth in opportunities for people with disabilities

DESCRIPTION:

As the largest source of employment in the nation, the federal government plays a pivotal role in increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. With nearly 40% of federal government workers employed as federal contractors, these employers serve as leaders – not just in their respective industries but within the federal government as well.

The mission of Melwood’s Inclusion through Policy Innovation Summit (formerly known as the JWOD Legal & Policy Symposium) is to convene AbilityOne nonprofits, federal contractors, disability rights advocates, Congressional leaders, and representatives from federal agencies to leverage federal procurement policy to increase and expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

In recent years, more employers than ever are tapping into the talent available in the disability community. But there’s far more work to be done to increase opportunities for meaningful work for people with disabilities. The commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility is growing across the public and private sectors – and federal procurement is a powerful lever. Join us for a day of incredible conversations.

One-Day Conference on December 9th, 2022

Location: National Press Club

529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20045

Agenda:

  • 8:00am – 8:30am – Breakfast
  • 8:30am – 9:30am – Kickoff Panel: The Power of Inclusion
  • 9:30am – 10:30am – Built to Last: The NPA of the Future
  • Break
  • 10:45 – 11:45am – Competitive Advantage: Federal Contractors and Section 503
  • Lunch
  • 12:45 – 1:45 pm – Fast Track to Inclusion: Can AbilityOne be a pipeline to 503 Compliance
  • 1:45pm – 2:45pm – Congressional Panel Discussion: Procurement Policy with Purpose
  • Break
  • 3:00pm – 3:40pm – Closing Session: It Takes a Village
  • 4:00pm – 6:00pm – Networking Reception
Session #1: The Power of Inclusion

8:30am – 9:30am

At a time of immense change in the American workplace, it is important to take stock of the state of employment for people with disabilities. In this session, you will hear from leaders as we build a foundational understanding of hiring initiatives, upward mobility, and retention for people with disabilities in the federal contracting workforce. We’ll discuss the current models and initiatives and lay the course towards the future with a more inclusive and equitable workforce for people with disabilities.

Key Discussion:

  • Assessment of federal hiring goals for people with disabilities
  • Underrepresentation of people with disabilities in the workforce, leadership roles, promotions, management
  • Retention and ongoing work to maintain inclusive work environments
Panelists:
  • Director Jenny R. Yang, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
  • Executive Director Kimberly Zeich, U.S. AbilityOne Commission
  • Chai Feldblum, Vice Chairperson, U.S. AbilityOne Commission

Moderator: Larysa Kautz, President & CEO, Melwood

Session #2: Built to Last: The NPA of the Future (AbilityOne Track)

9:30-10:30am

The AbilityOne Program is the largest collective source of employment for people who are blind or who have significant disabilities. For nearly 90 years, the program has provided meaningful employment and career opportunities. Yet, the program is in need of modernization. With the release of the final 898 Panel Report and the FY22-26 AbilityOne Strategic Plan, social enterprises must prepare and plan for the future of the Program for both business and for employees. In this session, we’ll examine the key pillars of the strategic plan, discuss how to adapt for a future that serves the double bottom line and lay the groundwork for future discussions around how AbilityOne can be leveraged to help other federal contractor meet 503 compliance goals.

Key Discussion:

  • Discussion of strategic growth and new opportunities for lines of business
  • Adapting and transforming towards greater competitive, integrated employment (even within constraints)
  • Fostering business models to advance employment for people with disabilities across the workforce

Panelists:

  • Julie Christensen, Executive Director, Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE)
  • Millisia Gary, AbilityOne Representative, General Services Administration
  • Dwight Davis, President, Global Connections to Employment
  • Larysa Kautz, President and CEO, Melwood

Moderator: Molly Weisner, Reporter, Federal Times

Session #3: Competitive Advantage: Federal Contractors and Section 503

10:45-11:45am

A central goal of hiring people with disabilities is affirming everyone is capable of full integration into all aspects of life, including employment. In this session, we’ll learn about Section 503 of the Rehabilitative Services Act, which requires federal contractors to make efforts to hire people with disabilities. In 2014, regulations introduced a 7% utilization goal for federal contractors to incentivize proactive hiring efforts and achieve greater employment of people with disabilities. In this session, we’ll discuss how to improve compliance with Section 503 and potential policy solutions and partnerships that can advance opportunities for people with disabilities.

Key Discussion:

  • Explore potential efforts to achieve proactive employment of people with disabilities
  • Should Section 503 have a required percentage?
  • Discussion of other policy mechanisms to incentivize and support hiring and retention of people with disabilities, including AbilityOne

Panelists:

  • Craig Leen, K&L Gates, Former Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)
  • Jayna Rust, Counsel, Thompson Coburn, LLP
  • Sarah von Schrader, Director Research and Program Evaluation, Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, ILR School at Cornell University

Moderator: Elizabeth Guevara, Senior Manager, Inclusion, Diversity & Giving, GDIT

Session #4: Fast Track to Inclusion – Can AbilityOne be a Pipeline to 503 Compliance?

12:45-1:45

Set aside programs and incentives in government procurement have long been tools to tap America’s most disadvantaged populations for work opportunities. Through the power of procurement – and with a shared vision of a future where people with disabilities are fully included – the federal government can lead the way to greater employment for people with disabilities.  In order to accomplish this mission, social enterprises, federal contractors, disability rights advocates, Congressional leaders, and the AbilityOne Commission must come together to develop opportunities for growth and expansion so that  no one is left behind. In this session, we will hear from leaders in both the AbilityOne and broader contracting fields on how federal contract policy can increase opportunities for people who are blind or have significant disabilities.

Key Discussion:

  • Fostering collaborative efforts to increase employment for people with disabilities and achieve Section 503 compliance, particularly in partnership with AbilityOne.
Panelists:
  • Charlotte Hammond, President and CEO, Challenge Unlimited
  • Steve McBride, Vice President, Operations, Skils’kin
  • Candee Chambers, Executive Director, DirectEmployers Association

Moderator: Jim Cook, VP, Strategic Engagements & Partnerships, MITRE

Session #5: Congressional Panel Discussion: Procurement Policy with Purpose

1:45-2:45

In this session, we will cover what legislative policies are being discussed to modernize the AbilityOne Program, what conversations are happening to address broader disability employment, and how federal procurement policy can be changed to incentivize more inclusive employment in the federal contracting workforce.

Key Discussion:

  • Congressional initiatives and background
  • Preview of 118th Congressional priorities
Panelists:
  • Phoebe Ball, House Education and Labor Committee, Majority Staff
  • Amanda Lowe, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Majority Staff
  • Brad Thomas, House Education and Labor Committee, Minority Staff

Moderator: Brigitte Custer, Vice President, Consulting Expert, CGI Federal

Session #6: It Takes a Village

3pm-4pm

Keynote Address

  • Chairman Andres Gallegos, National Council on Disability

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