Community Conversations: Workplace Transitions for Neurodiverse Youth

The transition from education to the workplace can be a tricky time for young people with disabilities. Drawing together experts in disability rights, inclusive arts, and community employment, this Community Conversation offers families, students, and other stakeholders the opportunity to ask questions and learn about resources directly from the experts providing those services. This conversation with Jade Ann Gingerich (Maryland Office of Disability), Betty Siegel (VSA in the Kennedy Center), Mathew McCollough (DC Office of Disability Rights), and Sarah Grime (School Talk DC) will examine employment pathways inside and outside the arts. This event is free and attendees are encouraged to submit questions ahead of time. 

To register for this online event, please click here!

About the Panelists: 

Jade Ann Gingerich (Maryland Office of Disability)

Jade Ann Gingerich has over two decades of state policy making, starting as Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and most recently as Director of Employment Policy for the Maryland Department of Disabilities, the nation’s only Cabinet level cross disability Department. An expert in state level interagency coordination and collaboration, working with a broad array of state agency partners and key stakeholders, she has presented widely on the topic of employment of persons with disabilities, testified before the state legislature, and served as an expert on national advisory boards related to employment policy. 

Accomplishments include co-leading Maryland’s earliest Employment First efforts and playing a key role in the creation of Maryland’s Medicaid Buy In, the Employed Individuals with Disabilities program.  She also served as a member of the Advisory Board for the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Center Experiential Education Initiative Internship for Individuals, leading the Maryland Medicaid Infrastructure grant and co-founding the Maryland’s Youth Leadership Forum.  In addition to her policy work, Ms. Gingerich served as Project Director for Maryland PROMISE grant, a 5-year research grant from the US Department of Education, to improve the educational and employment outcomes of youth on SSI and their families. She continues to work to translate the PROMISE lessons learned in systems change and practice at the state and local level. Ms. Gingerich founded The Paradigm Players, a theatre company for individuals with and without disabilities, has taught theatre classes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, volunteered as a voice actor for shows at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf as well as performed in a number of shows both professionally and as an avocation. She has a Master’s of Science in Special Education with a specialization in Transition Services from The Johns Hopkins University.  

Betty Siegel (VSA in the Kennedy Center)

As the Kennedy Centers’ Office of Accessibility and VSA Director, Betty Siegel believes that arts and cultural experiences inclusive of people with disabilities of all ages is a critical civil, cultural and human right. She champions, defends, and leads national and international disability arts, education, employment and cultural practices. A highlight of her career was the Kennedy Centers’ LEAD® and accessibility work being recognized as a cultural rights defender in a 2020 report by a UN Special Rapporteur.

Another milestone and point of pride was the 2019 LEAD® and VSA Intersections conferences collectively convening a field of over 900 arts and cultural access, equity and inclusion professionals. As a respected and much sought after speaker, delivering training, lectures and presentations around the world and across the United States, Ms. Siegel addresses disability rights, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and on access, equity and inclusion. She acquired her J.D. in 2009 from the Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. and is the founder of the Accessibility Advisory Group. 

Mathew McCollough (DC Office of Disability Rights)

As a Filipino American with developmental disabilities, Mathew McCollough is currently the Director for the District of Columbia Office of Disability Rights (ODR), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance office for the District Government. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Mr. McCollough to ODR Director on July 10, 2017. Previously, Mr. McCollough served as the Executive Director of the District of Columbia Developmental Disabilities Council, which promotes independence and equal opportunity for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In 2011, Mr. McCollough was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the United States Access Board, an independent Federal agency devoted to establishing accessibility standards that promote the full integration and participation of people with disabilities. In 2015, President Obama reappointed him to serve a second term on the U.S. Access Board. Mr. McCollough is recognized for his communication and training expertise in the areas of education, diversity and sensitivity, cultural competency, person-centered principles, and disability issues to a broad spectrum of audiences—students, advocates, parents, managers, community leaders, and other stakeholders. He received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from American University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from James Madison University.

Sarah Grime (School Talk DC)

Sarah Grime joined SchoolTalk in 2011 and currently serves as the Arts to Advocacy Program Manager in Washington, D.C. Her expertise includes human rights advocacy, social justice, conflict resolution, and arts-integration in domestic and international settings for non-profit and multilateral organizations. In her role at SchoolTalk, she manages the design and implementation of arts-integrated programming for DC youth.

Sarah believes that youth are endlessly creative and know what they want for their communities. Her work with the Arts to Advocacy Program focuses on creating safe spaces to meet youth where they are at any given moment and provide them opportunities to collaborate with professional artists, create original pieces, share their voices, and pursue creative careers. Sarah’s practice is to use art to engage communities and youth in self-expression, in creating artistic pieces, and in advocating for change. Sarah Grime received a Master of Arts degree in International Policy Studies, specializing in Human Rights and Justice, from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2010 and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and International Affairs from Skidmore College in 2008.

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