Conference Agenda

8:00 – 9:00
Arrival & Registration

  • Visit exhibit area, network and continental breakfast

9:00 – 10:30
Plenary Session I

  • Welcome – Kathy Petkauskos, Work Without Limits
  • Opening Remarks – Lisa Colombo, Commonwealth Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School and Toni Wolf, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
  • Presentation of Employer and Employee of the Year Awards – Joan Phillips, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
  • Introduction of Keynote Speaker – Robert Wadley, EY
  • Keynote Speaker, Travis Roy

10:30 - 11:00

  • Visit Exhibitors
  • Travel to Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions

  • Improving Mental Health and Productivity in your Workforce - Room 101

    Click here for presentation materials.

    The World Health Organization says that depression is the leading cause of disability globally. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in five persons in the US has a diagnosable mental illness. Substance misuse and addiction are devastating families and communities across every demographic. Nearly every member of your workforce is or will be touched by the impacts of his own, friends, family members’ or colleagues’ struggles with these issues. Yet stigma, lack of knowledge, and legal and privacy concerns have traditionally kept employers from proactively reaching out on these sensitive matters. EY has had outstanding success with a unique educational program to equip colleagues to support one another in simple ways that use empathy, common sense, and mitigate risk. No extensive training is required and anyone can do it. Learn how you can employ their concepts to build trust, openness and promote better mental health and productivity in your workforce.

    After attending this session, attendees will be able to:

    • Describe how mental illness, including substance misuse and addiction, impact your workforce.
    • Build and sell the business case for undertaking a broad educational initiative around mental illness and substance
    • Identify at least 3 specific ways in which you can promote a more open, trusting culture and empower your people to make a positive impact in their colleagues’ lives and at work.

    Presenters: Robert Wadley, Partner; Briana Roy, Audit Manager, EY

  • Linking Customer Accessibility to Company Strategy - Room 103

    People either understand that accessibility should be a business priority, or they have never had a serious conversation about it at work. For most companies it is the latter. Disability tends not to come up naturally in strategic conversations, but it can! When presented the right way, leaders tend to engage and embrace it.

    In this session we share the story of how a small group of associates with disabilities created an employee resource group. Within two years this gave rise to a business case to prioritize accessibility for customers, and the creation of a new department that is moving the needle on company strategy today. We will overview the 10-12 elements of the business case that helped executives see the opportunity differently: not as a compliance requirement or a charitable endeavor but as an investment, and with the same rigorous scrutiny with which nearly all investments are measured and prioritized.

    After attending this session, attendees will be able to:

    • Articulate the prevalence of disability and the growing importance of the disability community as consumers
    • Provide at least 3 reasons endorsing customer accessibility as an prioritized element of company strategy
    • Create their own business case for a customer accessibility office at their company

    Presenter: Hale Pulsifer, Customer Accessibility Lead, Fidelity Investments

  • Tracking Success: How PwC Quantifies the Impact of their Disability Inclusion Efforts - Room 104

    In recent years, PwC launched an initiative called Ability Reveals Itself. This campaign is designed to improve accessibility, recruit campus and experienced hires, develop learning resources as well as raise awareness that our caregivers and professionals with disabilities are valuable contributors to the growth of the firm. PwC’s disability inclusion journey began more than a decade ago as a grassroots effort.  Our guiding principles have remained closely aligned with the firm’s value of caring, re-imagining the possible, working together, acting with integrity and making a difference both in the lives of our colleagues and in our communities.

    In this session, we discuss our 2018 Impact Report and share how we brought our story of disability inclusion to life while building trust in the workplace and the marketplace. We will engage you in an interactive discussion around the initiative’s evolution from action planning to progress and results tracking.  We strive to create a broader discussion that fosters greater understanding and increases disability inclusion at our firm and beyond.

    After attending this session, attendees will be able to:

    • Describe 3 critical drivers of a successful disability inclusion strategy
    • Identify resources that may be utilized in your organization to amplify inclusion impact
    • Outline key steps and benefits of creating a communication campaign that articulates your impact

    Presenters: Allyson Schiller, NE Diversity Leader; Scott Borchardt, Partner, PwC

  • Thinking Outside the Box to Obtain Employment for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder - Room 105/105

    Click here for presentation materials.

    Inclusion in the workplace continues to be an important topic for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, caregivers, and employers. Individuals with severe deficits and needs may have difficulty obtaining or maintaining employment due to a limited repertoire of vocational skills and interfering behaviors. This presentation will be geared toward those hoping to develop and maintain meaningful job placements for individuals with ASD. Presenters will discuss successful outcomes and creative strategies used when developing new job placements, interview strategies for those with difficulty communicating, and how to assess skills and preferences for work to ensure an appropriate job match. Employers play a significant role in this process. However, many may not have experience working with a diverse population or understand accommodations and modifications that can be made to include individuals across the spectrum in their workplace. Examples of how to communicate with employers about an individual and the supports needed in the workplace will be given.

    After attending this session, attendees will be able to:

    • Outline 3 critical first steps when establishing an initial placement
    • Identify at least 2 ways to increase an individuals’ repertoire of vocational skills to increase job responsibilities, duration of work, and independence in the workplace
    • Describe the importance of quality work and identify potentially helpful national supports 

    Presenters: Julie Weiss, Program Director Vocational Services, Christine Pellerin, Vocational Specialist, The New England Center for Children

  • The Job Interview Toolbox - Room 114

    A job interview is so much more than the words that are spoken. From eye contact and body language to disclosure and how to respond to inappropriate questions, the presenters will provide tips on making a great impression. Presenters will talk about appropriate interview attire, how to engage the interviewer, and some of the things that should never be discussed. To provide sample interviews for the participants to observe, Richard Curtis of State Street will conduct a mock interview with both Carol Cullins and Joe Buizon of Massachusetts Commission for the Blind who will play the role of job seekers. The participants will have the opportunity to share their observations, ask questions, and ultimately develop their own interview toolbox.

    After attending this session, attendees will be able to:

    • Identify appropriate interview attire, the importance of body language, and topics they should avoid
    • Recognize inappropriate interview questions, especially as it relates to disability and develop a strategic response to them
    • Develop a personalize interview toolbox

    Presenters: Carol Cullins, Employment Services Specialist, Joe Buizon, Employment Services Supervisor, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind; Richard Curtis, Vice President, Workforce Development, Global Inclusion, State Street Corporation


  • Charting the Job Search Process for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities - Room 115

    Click here for presentation materials.

    Regional Autism Program Coordinators from The Department of Developmental Services will initiate an interactive discussion and provide insight, feedback, and resources pertaining to the job search process. This breakout session is designed for job seekers, job developers and coaches, support staff, family members and natural supports, and any stakeholders interested in the topic. A timeline with actionable steps will guide the discussion, starting with determining employment strengths and goals and ending with tips on maintaining a job and thoughts on how to ask for a raise and seek a promotion. Topics covered will include: resume writing and job applications, job search and matching considerations, framing expectations, interviewing, disclosing a disability, dealing with rejection, and starting and maintaining a job. The session will also address executive functioning and sensory challenges, stress and anxiety in the workplace, and tools individuals can access to be successful on the job.

    After attending this session, attendees will be able to:

    • Construct an individualized job search timeline to include techniques and approaches that add structure to the process
    • Implement strategies to inform employers of ways individuals perform their best work

    Presenters: Maria Stefano, Metro Region Autism Program Coordinator, Lea Hill, Northeast Region Autism Program Coordinator, Pamela P. Ferguson, Central/West Regional Autism Program Coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services


  • Predictive Talent Analytics - Essex Room

    This workshop will provide a brief overview of how talent analytics is being utilized by both public and private employers. Predictive talent analytics is a process and application software that uses behavioral and performance data to enable businesses to better select, retain, and develop their most promising talent. The solution includes behavioral, cognitive, and cultural assessments, and also matches talent to particular jobs and roles. Key components of predictive talent analytics allows the human bias to be minimized while identifying qualified candidates who happen to have a disability. Further, talent science has demonstrated that job retention has been drastically improved through enhanced job matching within the world of work. Employers have engaged this technology as being the solution to hiring the most qualified individual while proving the concept of a workers DNA for the future specific to labor market sectors. This workshop will focus on an interactive discussion as to how this truly impact job placement with candidates with disabilities.

    Presenters: William Allen, Director Statewide Job Placement Services, Karen Johnson, Employment Services Specialist, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission; Deena Perro, Senior Account Manager, Infor Talent Science

  • Partnering for Success - Lennox Room

    Click here for presentation materials.

    Presenters will share lessons learned and promising practices for promoting access to career pathways and employment opportunities for youth with disabilities.  Presenters will also discuss the positive impact integrated resource teams (IRTs) have on aligning services as well as highlight the many successes youth have made during program participation.  The session will also discuss how the MassHire system is building mutually beneficial and effective partnerships that are resulting in employment outcomes.

    After attending this session, attendees will be able to:

    • Learn more about how effective partnership and the alignment of resources promote better outcomes for youth.
    • Better understand services and resources available to all individuals seeking services through the MassHire Career Center system.

    Presenters: Heather Donovan, MassHire Lowell; Richard Berrena, MassHire Springfield; Sacha Stadhard, MassHire Department of Career Services

Break - Travel to lunch

12:30 - 1:15
Plated Lunch

Click here for the menu

Plenary Session II

  • Presentation of Work Without Limits Partnership & Leadership Awards
  • Recognition of DEI Companies: Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion – State Representative Josh Cutler
  • Service Animals at Work – Facilitator: Hale Pulsifer, Fidelity Investments

Closing Remarks

Networking, Visit Exhibitors & Ice Cream Social – Foyer

Ready to register for the Conference day on October 10th?

Please Read Prior to Registering: Registration payment can only be made via credit card through the links below. For those needing to pay by check or PO, please contact Ellen Spilva for payment instructions. Once payment is received, you will receive instructions on registration. Thank you.

Register Now!


  • BAMSI**
  • Best Buddies
  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Disability:IN Massachusetts
  • EY
  • HMEA**
  • Massachusetts APSE
  • MassMatch
  • Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
  • Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority
  • MGH Aspire
  • Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
  • Perkins School for the Blind
  • Seven Hills Foundation
  • Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts
  • The Moody Street Group
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School/MassHealth OneCare
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School, SPARC
  • United Way
  • Work Without Limits

**Silver Exhibitor