Thursday, July 20, 2023 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM EDT
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Harrisburg Hilton 
One N. Second Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101

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Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission 
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Conference Schedule

9 am Opening Remarks by PHRC Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter 

9:15 am  Panel Discussion: Employment Services

This session will feature a panel discussion with a focus on services and reasonable accommodations available for employees with disabilities. Panelists will also discuss how employers should address and prevent microaggressions and ableism in the workplace.


Kait Gillis-Hanna, Owner, Nour Coffee Shop

Gillis-Hanna has spent her career translating particular needs into actionable marketing and communications plans. Her expertise in issues management and grassroots marketing programs has helped shift perception and inform the public of critical, complex issues all while successfully building long-term advocacy relationships. Simply put, Kait is passionate about helping the most vulnerable and ensuring a message is delivered in a digestible manner. Her 20 years of strategic communications experience were earned in a variety of roles and industries ranging from finance to state government to non-profit to agency work. Most recently, Kait founded Nour - a coffee shop with a competitive integrated employment model. That means we train, employ and empower neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals while delivering the highest quality coffee and food. 

Amy Nieves, Executive Director, Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, City of Philadelphia

Nieves is the Executive Director, for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities which oversees the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, the Office of ADA Compliance and Constituent Services. Together these offices work to make Philadelphia a better place for people with disabilities. As a neurodivergent with deafness, and as a person in addiction recovery, Amy has built her career as a statewide and nationally recognized advocate on the forefront of supporting families as a facilitator, keynote speaker, published author, and community leader.

Additionally, Amy is a Governor-appointed Council member of the PA Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC) and the PA Statewide Independent Living Council (PASILC). She completed her undergraduate degree at York College of PA in 2002 and obtained her master’s in Human Relations: Diversity, Equity, and Strategic Impact at the University of Oklahoma in 2022. She is a current Organizational Leadership PhD candidate at Eastern University. Amy has long advocated that equity, opportunity, and inclusion are rights for all people.

Dale Verchick, Advocate and PABSS Coordinator, Disability Rights Pennsylvania

Verchick is an advocate at Disability Rights Pennsylvania since 2008, working for the rights of people with disabilities in various matters. Prior to her life as an advocate, she was an elementary school teacher accredited through the American Montessori Society. A first-generation immigrant, she understands life as a refugee and the effects of war having lived through the Persian Gulf War- 1990. Dale is a parent of a child with a disability. She presently serves on the Board of Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation and is a Commissioner on Pennsylvania’s Employment First Oversight board. She has a master’s degree focused in Legal Studies and Public Policy.

Tricia Zeltwanger, Career Counselor, Penn-Mar Human Services

Zeltwanger has been a committed member of the Penn-Mar Human Services team since 1991. Starting as a DSP, she eventually became their Contract Manager before transitioning to her current role as a Job Developer in 2012. Her contributions to the organization are invaluable as she builds connections between Penn-Mar and the community through networking with employers. Tricia has her certifications in Marc Gold & Associates, CESP, and ACRE and she is a certified ACRE Trainer. In 2014, she graduated from Leadership York and has since served as the President of the York Business Networking Group. Tricia's active involvement in the community includes serving as an Ambassador for the York County Economic Alliance and being a member of the Board of the Southern York County Business Association. Her passion for helping employment seekers achieve their goals is evident in her successful placement of many individuals in community employment. Tricia also plays a vital role in training new hires at Penn-Mar on Customized Employment.

Mike Allison, PA Employment Support Manager, Penn-Mar Human Services

 Allison began his career in human services in 2003 at a residential psychiatric treatment facility for children/young adults after having worked in law enforcement. While there he served as a Mental Health Worker, Shift Leader, Night Supervisor and lastly as a Residential Supervisor. In addition to that he was a JKM Safe Crisis Management Instructor and Red Cross First Aid and CPR instructor as well. Allison then left to work as a Residential Manager/Program Specialist with a few agencies specializing in Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. During this time, he received his ODP Certified Investigator certification which he still has today. After working in the residential/day program aspect, he then transitioned to the role of Incident Management Coordinator/full-time Investigator where he managed any reportable incidents or investigations for the agency. Currently, he is the PA Employment Support Manager with Penn-Mar. Allison has been in this role since November of 2022 and says he is still learning what it takes to support the people he serve in the Supported Employment. For him, this is a very rewarding position as it is an amazing feeling to assist job seekers navigate the Employment process and secure a job that gives them a sense of purpose and the opportunity to earn their own money.

10:30 am Break

10:45 am  Susquehanna Service Dogs Demonstration

Susquehanna Service Dogs (SSD) breeds, raises, trains, and places assistance dogs, hearing dogs, and facility dogs to assist children and adults with disability to build confidence, increase their independence, and lead the lives they want to live. A program of Keystone Human Services, SSD is accredited by Assistance Dogs International and serves the Mid-Atlantic region of the US.

Presenter: Deb Tack, Executive Director 

Tack has served as the Executive Director of SSD since 2020. Before stepping into the leadership role, she worked as the Partner Coordinator, supporting people through the assistance dog application process and for the lifetime of their partnership with their assistance dog. She started her relationship with SSD as a puppy raiser and has since raised 5 dogs.

11:30 am Keynote Adddress

Michael Kiel, Author of the book, "Challenge the Moment."

Kiel is a rehab counselor/rehab specialist, advocate, and author. He holds an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in rehab counseling. He has been working the field of vocational rehabilitation for 20 years at the Hiram G Andrews Center in Johnstown PA. Michael works primarily with the Cognitive Skills Enhancement Program (CSEP), but also provides support for the Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology (CART) along with advocacy and outreach.

He has spent the bulk of his career working with young adults with disabilities. His career has centered around a comprehensive approach to employment and self-advocacy, which includes cognitive therapy, assistive technology, life skills/social skills, sexuality, and intimacy along with many other topics. The overall goal of which is to empower individuals with disabilities to be independent and have an active voice in the world around them, in the hopes that a taste of empowerment will lead to a thirst for independence. He sits on several Boards of Directors and his personal interests include spending time traveling, motivational speaking, playing chess, writing, and enjoying the company of friends and family, particularly his two nephews. He published his memoir, Challenge the Moment, in 2019.

12:15 pm Lunch

1:15 pm  Panel Discussion: Government Services

This session will feature a panel discussion with a focus on government services available to employees with disabilities. Panelists will also discuss how government agencies are working to become more accessible and accommodating and what legislation or changes need to be made across the commonwealth.


Janetta Green, Chief Executive Officer, Center for Independent Living of Central PA

Green has been a dedicated member of the Center for Independent Living of Central PA (CILCP) since 1989, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role. She holds a Bachelor's of Social Work degree from Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, WV, and a Master's in Business Administration from Eastern University in St. Davids, PA.

With over 40 years of experience in the field, Green has devoted 38 years specifically to independent living centers, having worked in various positions ranging from receptionist and skills trainer to program manager, Chief Operating Officer, and ultimately Chief Executive Officer. Her extensive expertise extends beyond her roles within the organization, as she has also served as a non-federal peer reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Region II for four years.

Furthermore, Green is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders. She is also a Certified Accessibility Inspector through the International Code Council and a Certified ADA Coordinator through the University of Missouri, demonstrating her comprehensive understanding of accessibility standards and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ryan Hyde, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

Ryan began his career with OVR as an intern at the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (OVR’s) York Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) District Office in 2002 where he worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) serving students with disabilities in Lancaster County. After working as a VRC for several years, he was selected to become a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist in OVR’s Bureau of Central Operations (BCO), focusing on Supported Employment. Since then, Ryan has held many roles and responsibilities within BVRS and BCO, working on key initiatives such as the OVR budget; case reviews; the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and all related services; and the development of OVR’s case management system, CWDS.

Ryan was promoted to BCO Bureau Director in 2013 and was asked to be the OVR Acting Executive Director in 2018. Ryan also worked in the Bureau of Workforce Development Administration (BWDA) as the Deputy Bureau Director where he supervised the units focused on services to youth and oversight/monitoring; wrote for competitive grants; and led the implementation of SkillUp® PA. In March of 2022, Ryan was again appointed to the role of Acting Executive Director of OVR and worked to address a variety of issues facing the agency as a result of the pandemic. In February of 2023, Ryan was appointed as the Executive Director of OVR.

Pennsylvania Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-EL, 49th District (Lancaster County)

Prior to his election to the PA Legislature, Ismail “Izzy” Smith-Wade-El was the President of Lancaster City Council on which he had served since 2017. During his four years on Council, Izzy helped secure the largest investments in affordable housing and lead removal for the City of Lancaster in its history. He championed the decriminalization of cannabis; a completely revamped use-of-force policy for police officers; and increased police accountability in response to community requests.

Izzy was born and raised in Lancaster, PA. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, Izzy returned to his hometown and began working in Lancaster's nonprofit sector to deliver relief to vulnerable people, first in behavioral health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, then as a grant writer and researcher. As a program specialist at Lancaster County Homeless Coalition, he coordinated services and support for Lancaster County's housing insecure community. Most recently, Izzy launched "Refresh Lancaster," a mobile hygiene unit which delivers showers, social services, and medical attention to homeless Lancastrians.

Izzy has fought for grass roots change in his community as the vice chair of the Lancaster County Democratic Party and as a community organizer with striking Kellogg’s workers for fair wages and benefits and PA's educators to demand fair funding for public schools. He's raised his voice to protect abortion access, defend Black Lives, welcome immigrants, and refugees, and denounce antisemitism.

Izzy is the first Black and first queer state representative from Lancaster.

2:30 pm Break

2:45 pm Assistive Technology Demonstration: United Cerebral Palsy of Central PA 


Marci Walborn, Director of Childhood & Ancillary Services, UCP Central PA

Walborn, OTR/L, ATP has a BS in Occupational Therapy. She started her career in UCP’s Assistive Technology program in 1999 however through the years has worked in a variety of different areas including early intervention and nursing home/rehabilitation. Throughout her career she has been implementing the use of Assistive Technology and adaptations to help individuals achieve their goals in all aspects of their lives. She recently completed her Assistive Technology Practioner (ATP) certification through RESNA to better serve the needs of individuals in the area of seating and mobility, communication, and environmental access using adaptive technology.

Jacqueline Wardle, Assistive Technology Specialist, UCP Central PA

Wardle has a BS in Special Education and an MS in Education of the Hearing Impaired. She began working in UCP’s Assistive Technology Program in 1991, where she was a part of the team completing assistive technology evaluations. She has an extensive knowledge of a variety of assistive technology. She helped establish and build UCP’s Changing Hands equipment reuse program. She also works with TechOWL, providing device demonstrations, short term equipment loans and assistance with obtaining adapted phones from Pennsylvania’s Free Special Phone Program.

3:30 Closing Remarks