Friday, September 10, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM CDT


This is an online event. 



Kris Steinmetz 
Autism Society of Iowa 

2021 Autism Society of Iowa Employment Conference 

The Autism Society of Iowa and Iowa DD Council are sponsoring a virtual conference via Zoom on Autism & Employment for those on the autism spectrum who are interested in employment, family members, employers, human resource managers, case managers, social workers and anyone interested in helping those with ASD in the work place. This conference is free to those on the autism spectrum.


9:00 – Welcome

9:05 – 10:05 – Benefits Planning for working when you receive SSI and SSDI with Diane Hernandez, Program Director Ticket to Work (T2W & CFI), Children and Families of Iowa

The Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program connects you with free employment services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for work, find a job, or maintain success while you are working. If you choose to participate, you will receive services such as career counseling and job placement and training from our authorized Ticket to Work Employment Network (EN), thus helping you on your journey to financial independence.

10:05 – 10:15 - Break

10:15 – 11:00- Staying Relevant and Self-Advocating with Lisa Shaw from Mosaic Haven

This interactive presentation will help employees stay relevant and learn how to self-advocate so the individual’s efforts of staying relevant into today’s changing world is known and valued by their employers.

This is an interactive training session where you will interact, problem solve and vote by zoom when learning about different scenarios in the workplace. 

11:00 – 11:10 – Break

11:10 – 12:30 – Service Providers Panel

  • Balance Autism's Employment Services Work Readiness Program using Digitability Curriculum – Bridget Quinn
  • Mosaic Haven's Employment Program - Lisa Shaw
  • Access to Independence Services – Joel Wesselink
  • Metro West Learning Center Employment Program – Ambrose Ball Harney
  • Employment supports that are available within the Intellectual disability, brain injury and HAB waivers through Medicaid waivers in Iowa. – Denise Juhl, Program Manager – Employment Services at Amerigroup

12:30 – 1:00 – Lunch Break

1:00 – 2:30– Virtual Reality Job Interview Training for Autistic Individuals

Matthew Smith, Ph.D., MSW, MPE, LCSW, Director of the Level Up: Employment Skills Simulation Lab at the University of Michigan (http://leveluplab.org)

Dr. Smith will discuss research on how virtual reality assists those with autism and will demonstrate his virtual reality job interviews training. 

.2:30 – 2:40 – Break

2:40 – 3:30 – Learning How to Approach Interview Questions from an Autistic Interviewer with Gregg Fort, Senior Director of Community Engagement and Partnership at Epilepsy Foundation

Gregg will discuss how to answer open ended interview questions from someone with autism who does a lot of interviewing, and recommendations for interviews on zoom.


Continuing Education Units

Continuing Education Credits: The Autism Society of Iowa is an accredited sponsor for CEU’s for Social Work #300 and Speech Language Pathology. This conference offers 5.5 credit hours in both Social Work and SLP. Certificates of Attendance will be provided for CEU’s.


Speakers and Panelists

Ambrose Ball-Harney

Ambrose Is a Lead RBT for Classroom Support and Transitional skills group leader at MWLC. He received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology along with a minor in Religious Studies from the University of Iowa and is currently finishing his thesis for his master’s in psychology from Purdue. He has a long history of working in the Human Services and Mental Health field and greatly enjoys working with individuals with autism and challenging behaviors.

Gregg Fort

Gregg Fort is in his third year with the Epilepsy Foundation currently serving as the Senior Director of Community Engagement and Partnership after over 30 years in higher education leadership.  Gregg oversees EFAs 10 community engagement and partnership geographic territories across the country.

Immediately prior to EF, Fort coordinated all development, alumni and affinity activities at Hartwick College in New York as the Vice President for College Advancement, including intercollegiate athletics.
A native of McKinney, Texas, Gregg also served three years as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Hilbert College and five years as an Assistant Vice President at DePaul University in Chicago.
Gregg is a graduate of Austin College where he recently on the alumni board of advisors and his wife Nicci is a women's basketball coach at Drake University in Des Moines.

Diane Hernandez


Diane is a certified rehabilitation counselor, work incentive counselor and brain injury specialist trainer. She received her master’s degree in counseling from Drake University. Diane has spoken in state and national forums on work incentives, effective collaboration, return to work after brain injury, working with impulsive populations, and the reverse job fair concept.

Denise Juhl

Denise is a Central Iowa native.  During Denise’s career she has enjoyed assisting persons with barriers to employment with connections for opportunities leading to training and employment options.

Denise is the Manager of Member Employment Services with Amerigroup Iowa and has been with Amerigroup since 2016. Prior to that she assisted homeless young adults, level 3 high schools students and senior citizens with employment assistance.

Lisa Shaw

Lisa Shaw – CEO / Founder Mosaic Haven + Future-Ready Transition Program

Lisa Shaw has been leading parents, teachers, and schools in building meaningful IEPs and Transition Plans that appropriately prepare teens for life after high school.  With extensive lived experience, Lisa understands the importance of supporting every child in reaching their fullest potential not only within the classroom but also within their home, work, and community.  Her proven methods and customized programs have helped hundreds of families to prepare their children to become future-ready with further education, employment, and independent living.

Matthew Smith, PH.D., MSW, MPE, LCSW

Matthew J. Smith, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Dr. Smith’s primary motivation is to reduce social isolation for underrepresented groups through enhancing their opportunities to obtain and sustain employment. Dr. Smith received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Dr. Smith’s main research interests focus on developing and evaluating technology-based interventions that can be delivered in high schools, community mental health agencies and prisons to improve employment and mental health outcomes for transition-age youth with autism or other disabilities, adults with serious mental illness or other disabilities, and returning citizens.

Dr. Smith's research is currently funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Justice, and the Kessler Foundation.

Bridget Quinn, MA

Bridget Quinn is the Community Employment Director at Balance Autism and has been with Balance Autism since 2018. She recently graduated with her master’s degree in Special Education and a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from Ball State University. She’s currently working on her supervision hours to sit for the BCBA exam.  Bridget lives in Bondurant with her fiancÚ, their two sons and their puppy.

Joel Wesselink

Joey Wesselink is an autism self-advocate in the state of Iowa. He was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum when he was 25 years of age. He is currently the Administrative Assistant at Access 2 Independence, which is one of the six centers for independent living in the state of Iowa. He lives in Iowa City and enjoys reading, writing, playing video games, being outside, watching sports or pro wrestling with friends and trivia nights. He was a part of the LEND training program in 2019-2020 as a self-advocate trainee. He graduated from the LEND program in May of 2020. Joey is also on the Autism Society of Iowa Board and is a member of the group #UpgardeMedicaid. Joey Graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism in 2013.