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2019 Conference Track: Workforce

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2019 Conference Track: Workforce


Breakout Sessions

2019 Moving Mountains Awardee: St. Coletta of Wisconsin’s Moonshot Initiative

Tuesday, May 7 | 10:30-11:30 am | Concurrent Session

The Moving Mountains Award recognizes organizations using leading practices in direct support workforce development that result in improved outcomes for people with disabilities. St. Coletta of Wisconsin is the 2019 Moving Mountains Award recipient in recognition of its Moonshot Initiative, which is centered on fair wages, competency-based merit increases and career advancement opportunities through clearly defined career pathways. During this session, the team from St. Coletta will discuss the program design, its accomplishments and lessons learned since the Moonshot Initiative was launched in late 2015.


  • Ted Behnecke, St. Coletta of Wisconsin
  • Elizabeth Brzeski, St. Coletta of Wisconsin
  • Art Young, St. Coletta of Wisconsin

The Graduates: The Next Generation Shaping the Future of I/DD Services

Tuesday, May 7 | 1-2 pm | Concurrent Session

Organizations must have a strong bench. This session will feature a conversation with emerging leaders who graduated from The Training Collaborative for Innovative Leadership, a nationally accredited project in New York City that has been recognized for its innovative approach to building emerging and talented leadership. Graduates of the program have excelled in agency leadership roles and have demonstrated creativity in offering solutions and getting results at their agencies and in their disciplines. Participants in this session will hear the next generation’s perspectives about our current system of supports, the challenges they see on the horizon, solutions they have implemented at their agencies and their vision for the future.


  • Jeisson Cardona, ADAPT Community Network
  • Katherine Contreras, ADAPT Community Network
  • Ed Matthews, ADAPT Community Network

A Lean System Applied: Recruiting, Retaining and Engaging Direct Support Professionals   

Tuesday, May 7 | 3:45-4:45 pm | Concurrent Session

Recruitment, retention and ongoing support of DSPs are essential to the overall health of I/DD programming. Lean, a model for continuous improvement, can be applied to address DSP workforce stability. The lean model prioritizes quality service, listening to the people doing the work and using metrics to drive toward the right outcomes. Participants in this session will walk away with foundational knowledge of lean principles and ideas for applying lean thinking to complex challenges.


  • Michelle Kidwell, Albertina Kerr
  • Aimee Reichert, Albertina Kerr

Investment in Leadership: The Road to Improved Organizations

Wednesday, May 8 | 9:45-10:45 am | Concurrent Session

What if you could reduce burnout and retain your best employees? Even better, what if you could challenge and develop your best employees to have them leading effective teams and build a dynamic, comprehensive organization culture? Development of your leaders, supervisors and managers touches every corner of your organization with a positive impact. In this session, participants will consider leadership development and how it requires not only introducing leadership skills, but also promoting a culture where knowledge is shared, frequent feedback is valued and taking risks is encouraged. Insights from Pathlight's Leadership Institute will demonstrate how to make leadership development a priority to result in a stronger, more dynamic agency culture.


  • Ruth Banta, Pathlight
  • Peter McLean, Pathlight

Employee Engagement Strategies: From Vision to Execution

Wednesday, May 8 | 1:15-2:15 pm | Concurrent Session

Research from SHRM shows employee engagement can promote retention of talent, foster customer loyalty, and improve organizational performance and stakeholder value, which is why business executives identify enhancing employee engagement as one of their top five global business strategies. This session will profile two strategies for promoting and enhancing employee engagement. Focused on its DSP workforce, Bethesda established its DSP Leadership Team to offer agency leaders with recommendations about recruitment and retention strategies, methods to improve job satisfaction, and ways to promote collaborative relationships between DSPs, corporate staff and regional staff. To meet its strategic objectives, Woods Services created an employee engagement and development program that embraces and promotes personal and professional growth of all employees and includes career paths, educational assistance, mentoring and enhanced employee benefits.


  • Kristen Erway Farry, Woods Services
  • Mark Hagen, Bethesda Lutheran Communities
  • Tine Hansen-Turton, Woods Services

ANCOR Film Festival

Invaluable—The Profession of Direct Support

Tuesday, May 7 | 1-2 pm | Concurrent Session

The direct support workforce has been in crisis for over 30 years, with stagnant wages, high turnover and vacancy rates, little recognition and understanding of this work by our communities, and no professional recognition by the U.S. Department of Labor. This session will explore the DSP workforce through a new documentary film produced by the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living. DSPs who participate will glean strategies for framing their stories to advocate for livable wages and speak up on behalf of this invaluable profession.


  • Barbara Kleist, Research & Training Institute, University of Minnesota
  • Jerry Smith, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota