Innovative Employer Engagement in Alaska’s PIE Project

Season 2, Episode 2 — 6 April 2018

We talk with Kristin Vandagriff, the Planner for the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education and lead of Alaska’s PIE project about the innovative steps that Alaska has taken to engage with employers, as well as the resources that Alaska has made available on their engagement efforts.

Kristin Vandagriff is the Planner for the Alaska Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, joining the Council in October 2013 as an Employment Program Coordinator. Kristin is the project lead for Alaska’s Partnerships in Employment project, the Alaska Integrated Employment Initiative (AIEI) working on the following major changes since the inception of the grant:

Alaska becoming an Employment First state

Repeal Alaska’s graduation qualifying exam with retroactive provision

Passage of the Alaska ABLE Act

Becoming only the third state in the nation to repeal subminimum wage regulation.

She leads an interagency employer engagement team comprised of Alaska state staff from the Departments of Health and Social Services and Labor and Work Workforce Development called the Business Employment Services Team (BEST) which is dedicated to improving hiring outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Kristin facilitated the creation of an Alaska Disability Benefits 101 website to assist Alaskans with disabilities in better understanding the important interplay of benefits and work. In addition, Kristin is the Statewide Coordinator for Alaska Project SEARCH. Previously she worked for the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Unit. Before coming to work for the State of Alaska, Kristin was employed for more than six years with a developmental disabilities provider agency working directly with people who experience disabilities. Kristin graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. Kristin has been involved with advocacy in the realm of people with disabilities for over 24 years and is very personally invested in this work, as her brother has an intellectual and developmental disability. She is very proud of his achievements and greatly looks forward to continuing to grow opportunities for people with disabilities in Alaska.

Donald Taylor is the Training Manager at the Youth Employment Solutions Center and the producer of YES To Employment.

Announcer: You’re listening to YES! To Employment, a podcast series that seeks to improve competitive, integrated employment outcomes for transition-aged youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Today we are talking to Kristin Vandagriff, who is the Planner at the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, which is the Developmental Disabilities Council for the state of Alaska. Most important for us, she is also the lead for the Alaska Integrated Employment Initiative, the state of Alaska’s Partners in Employment project.

Complete transcript forthcoming

Announcer: You’ve been listening to YES! To Employment, a podcast that seeks to improve competitive, integrated employment outcomes for transition-aged youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Today we spoke with Kristin Vandagriff about the State of Alaska’s employer engagement initiatives. As Alaska has completed its five year Partners in Employment project, they have a particularly robust collection of documentation on the programs they created, their outcomes and resources you can use to undertake similar initiatives in your state. Visit their website, dhss.alaska.gov/gcdse for more.

For more about YES! To Employment, including show notes, links to the resources discussed, a complete transcript and a schedule of episodes, visit www.yestoemployment.org/podcast. You can subscribe through iTunes or your favorite Android podcast app to have the series delivered automatically to your device so you never miss an episode. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please give us a rating on iTunes. Ratings will help us get the series in front of more listeners.

YES! To Employment is a production of the Youth Employment Solutions Center, the national Training and Technical Assistance Center that serves as a hub of information and expertise for the Partnerships in Employment (PIE) state projects. The YES! Center is a collaboration of TASH and TransCen. You can learn more about TASH at tash.org and more about TranCen at transcen.org. You can receive updates from the YES! Center on this podcast and our other activities by following us on Facebook or on twitter at @YEStoEmployment.

Partnerships in Employment is a series of seed grants funded by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, made to states for the purpose of transforming state disability support systems to competitive, integrated employment. AIDD is dedicated to ensuring that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families are able to fully participate in, and contribute to all aspects of community life in the United States and its territories.

Music for YES! To Employment is an original composition and performance by Sunny Cefaratti, the Co-Director and Autistic Self Advocacy Mentor at the Musical Autist. You can learn more about the Musical Autist at www.themusicalautist.org.

We’ll have another episode on competitive integrated employment for you in the near future.

This interview was originally recorded on 16 March 2017.

The audio of this interview and the transcript have been lightly edited for clarity.

Do you have an idea for an episode? We would like to hear from you! Fill out our suggestion form and let us know.

Thank you for joining our newsletter!

Stay tuned for more information from the YES! Center!