Helling Named a State Ambassador for Employment First

Kristen Helling

Kristen Helling

Kristen Helling, DODD lead person for the Ohio Employment First initiative, has been named an Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program State Ambassador by the national Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). She observed,

“I am excited to be named an Employment First State Ambassador by ODEP. I believe the State Ambassadors Network is uniquely positioned to allow peer states to receive guidance and support from states that already have begun the challenging work of implementing systems change. Each state is unique, and efforts must be customized to work successfully, but by sharing the tips and strategies that have been successfully implemented in Ohio, I believe I can support others to make real progress.”

In announcing the 2015 State Ambassadors, ODEP noted that the ambassador role is extremely important in moving the workplace improvement programs forward, nationwide.  ODEP recognizes that many states desire to align their efforts to support individuals with disabilities toward an Employment First approach, but may not yet possess the capacity, experience or technical resources necessary to lead and facilitate such change.

The announcement stated, “To address this need, ODEP has initiated the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program, a cross-disability, cross-systems change initiative. It will provide a platform for multi-disciplinary state teams to focus on implementing the Employment First approach with fidelity – aligning policies, coordinating resources, and updating service delivery models – to facilitate increased integrated employment options for people with the most significant disabilities.”

Helling is among only nine 2015 appointees to the group, a network comprised of people demonstrating exemplary leadership among local and state officials who are guiding high-impact systems-change efforts to promote Employment First principles in their state or local community.

DODD Deputy Director Teresa Kobelt noted that ODEP honors only top talent leadership – people who really are making a difference in implementing the vision of Employment First. She stated, “Kristen has helped to lead and advance Ohio’s Employment First initiative, and will be a valuable mentor to other states. She has helped to implement Ohio’s Employment First Rule, develop a strong partnership with Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, and has spearheaded greatly improved data tracking. She has a breadth and depth of knowledge that definitely will be an asset to the national efforts.”

More information:  Learn about Employment First and the 2015 State Ambassadors