Key Collaborators

RRTC on Workforce Investment and Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities

The Law, Health Policy and Disability Center (LHPDC) at the University of Iowa

The Center has four fundamental missions:

  1. Provide quality education to all students and professionals.
    Students and professionals from varied disciplines seek to improve their ability in research, communication, advocacy, and collaboration skills for disability-related legal and societal issues.

  2. Promote quality research and information exchange with respect to legal, health policy, and disability issues.
    Students and professionals from varied disciplines design, develop, and conduct legal and social science research on disability and policy issues. The information gained from the research is disseminated through scholarly publications and also made available to the public online.

  3. Provide service to individual and community partners to enhance awareness of disability and health-related matters.
    The Center partners with local and national agencies and consumers to maintain and enhance diversity and sense of community. Consumers, the Center staff and students, and agency personnel collaborate to disseminate information and resources about disability law and policy. They also work to improve community integration of people with disabilities and provide direct service to practitioners and consumers. Important services are provided in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Economic Development, the Iowa Department of Education Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Iowa Department for the Blind. They include entrepreneurial training through the Business Assistance Services for Entrepreneurs, and the Iowa Entrepreneurs with Disabilities program.

  4. Pursue research on new technologies and evaluate their applications in education and service for persons with disabilities.
    The Center endeavors to develop, research, and evaluate applications of new technologies in education and service for persons with disabilities. Students and professionals from multiple disciplines work together to improve technology skills and access to technology for people with disabilities.

The Center's former director Peter David Blanck, a Professor of Law, of Psychology, and of Occupational Medicine at the University of Iowa received his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University and his J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he served as President of the Stanford Law Review. He is a member of the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, and he has been a Senior Fellow of the Annenberg Washington Program in which capacity he explored the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Blanck has written articles and books on the ADA, has received grants to study the law's implementation, and his work has received national and international attention. His books in the area include: The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Emerging Workforce (1998); Employment, Disability, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (2000, forthcoming). He also has been a Fellow at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, Domestic Policy Institute. Prior to teaching at Iowa, Blanck practiced law at the Washington D.C. firm Covington & Burling, and served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Carl McGowan of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Leonard A. Sandler is a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law. He received his J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1981, and has been admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of Maryland, Vermont, and Iowa. A Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow, Sandler represents individuals and organizations, and lectures extensively on disability and HIV/AIDS issues. Sandler has directed clinical law and systems reform projects, including the AIDS Representation Project, the Iowa Assistive Device Lemon Law Project, and the Iowa Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities County Management Plan Project. Ongoing involvement in other projects focus on assistive device tax credit legislation for small businesses to hire, retain, and accommodate workers with disabilities, telecommunications equipment programs for persons with disabilities, and housing and facility accessibility and building codes. At the Center, Sandler is engaged in the study and evaluation of programs relating to small business and entrepreneurial opportunities for persons with disabilities; assistive technology and accessible web site design creation and implementation; the effects of the ADA, civil rights, and other laws, regulations and policies that affect workforce dynamics. He also acts as a consultant to corporations on disability issues and corporate culture.

James L. Schmeling former Associate Director of the Law, Health Policy & Disability Center, and a policy researcher and administrator received his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1999. As a researcher in the LHPDC, he has focused on policy barriers and legal issues of importance in technology for independent living and environmental access. His studies include information technology in employment and education settings, small business and entrepreneurial activity, employment policy, work incentives, corporate culture, and other disability programs and policies. At the Center, Mr. Schmeling is project director for the NIDRR-funded IT Works project which examines IT-based employment for people with disabilities and provides ADA technical assistance to businesses and individuals through the regional DBTAC. He currently is a senior researcher for two DOL funded projects, one a technical assistance project for Workforce Investment System grantees, the other the National Center on Workforce and Disability. He has published on entrepreneurial activity of individuals with disabilities and on Supreme Court interpretations of the ADA.

Michael Morris, former the Director of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workforce Investment and Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities has over 20 years of experience in systems change activities to advance the employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Mr. Morris received his law degree from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1981, Morris was named the first Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow in Public Policy and came to Washington, D.C. to work in the Office of Connecticut Senator Lowell Weicker, as legal counsel to the United States Senate Subcommittee on the Handicapped. Mr. Morris also served subsequently as counsel to the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee. Mr. Morris is the Associate Director of the Law, Health Policy & Disability Center at the University of Iowa, and is involved in multiple federally funded projects that are seeking new solutions to overcome the barriers to social and economic independence for Americans with disabilities.

Sharon Brent served as the Training Coordinator for the RTC. Sharon is the parent of a son with multiple disabilities who has over ten years of experience training and assisting community providers and family members with understanding the relationship between different public benefits programs. She is an expert on SSI, SSDI, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security work incentive provisions.

The Center for the Study and Advancement of Disability Policy

The overall goal of the Center is to promote systemic change in public policy that fosters the inclusion, independence, and empowerment of individuals with disabilities and then families. To accomplish this goal the Center has three major objectives:

First, the Center will provide leadership development and training opportunities for individuals with disabilities and their families with national, state, and local policy makers, and other stakeholders about disability policy. Leadership development and training activities will also focus on enhancing effecting and meaningful involvement in the public policy process and consensus-building skills of individuals with disabilities and other stakeholders.

Second, the Center will provide technical assistance to individuals with disabilities and their families and other stakeholders who are attempting to sort through complex public policy issues that affect individuals with disabilities and their families and achieve a broad-based consensus. The Center will also provide national forums for discussion of public policy issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.

Third, the Center will conduct action research and analysis of disability policy and translate research into policy alternatives related to current issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.

The Center in its second year of operation is directed by Robert Silverstein. Robert has over 25 years experience providing policy analysis and research for and technical assistance to policymakers and negotiating and drafting public policy at the Federal, State, and local levels. From 1987-97, Robert Silverstein served as the principal advisor to Senator Tom Harkin (D. Iowa), who served as chair of the Subcommittee on Disability Policy (1987-95), ranking member of the Subcommittee (1995-97), and lead member on disability policy issues on the Committee on Labor and Human Resources (1997). In this capacity, Robert Silverstein played a central role in all important disability policy legislation produced between 1985-1997, including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, and numerous other pieces of legislation and disability-related amendments to other bills concerning health, civil rights, education, and job training.

Assisting Bobby will be Allen Jensen, a former staff member of the House Ways and Means Committee and a former staff director of the Human Resources Committee of the National Governor's Association. As an advisor to the Social Security Administration, Mr. Jensen is a frequently consulted expert on work incentives and disability policy. Allen Jensen is associated with the Center for Health Services Research and Policy, at The George Washington University.

John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Established in 1997, the Center has two priority goals: to enhance the quality of the nation's workforce development system and to become one of the nation's leading academically-based research centers focused on employment policy and workforce development. Key activities include:

  1. Research and evaluation of workforce development programs.
  2. Dissemination of best practices for the improvement of programs.
  3. Educating and training professionals and volunteers involved in the design and delivery of workforce development programs.

The Center is directed by Carl Van Horn who has been on the faculty of Rutgers since 1978, specializing in public policy analysis in the fields of employment and economic development. Dr. Van Horn was the Director of Policy for the State of New Jersey and on the professional staff of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. Dr. Van Horn is currently involved in a research project for the U.S. Department of Labor on development of an evaluation system for workforce programs.

Karen Dixon is the project manager for this initiative. A Project Manager for the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Dixon is responsible for public policy research regarding the Workforce Investment Act. Karen Dixon has a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Rutgers University.

University of Vermont

Coordinating the research projects will be Michael Collins. Michael has a Masters degree in Special Education from the University of Vermont and more than 20 years of experience with transition and employment policy and practices for persons with significant disabilities. From 1993 to 1998 in Vermont, Michael directed the Rehabilitation Services Administration funded Choice project and more recently has directed a unique Labor and Vocational Rehabilitation collaboration to assist welfare recipients with disabilities return to work. Michael Collins and Dr. Susan Hasazi, Director of the Center for Transition and Employment at the University of Vermont will assist the RTC with research design and evaluation activities. Michael Collins serves as the lead researcher for the RRTC on welfare reform, and outcome based reimbursement strategies for improved employment services and customer choice.

Community Options, Inc. (COI)

Although only ten years old, COI based in Princeton, New Jersey has emerged as a national leader in conceptualizing and implementing new approaches to employment and housing opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities. It now provides support to over 1,000 individuals with disabilities in ten (10) states on a weekly basis and has placed over 250 individuals in competitive employment settings.

Key Collaborators:

The Law, Health Policy and Disability Center at The University of Iowa

The Center for the Study and Advancement of Disability Policy

Center for Health Services Research and Policy at The George Washington University

John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development

University of Vermont

Community Options, Inc.