Mark your calendars: TennesseeWorks plans 5th Annual Think Employment! Summit

ThinkEmployment! Summit 2017

For the last four years, TennesseeWorks has organized the Employment Summit each September, bringing together students with disabilities, adult self-advocates, family members, educators, policymakers, and providers to focus on raising employment expectations and opportunities for people with disabilities. The 2017 Think Employment! Summit will be held September 21 at Music City Center in Nashville from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Summit offers a unique blend of sessions aimed at empowering self-advocates, along with speakers sharing the latest on the changing employment landscape for individuals with disabilities.

As in past years, the Summit will feature two tracks for participants. One track focuses on transforming the employment landscape, where participants can learn about the latest in employment services and policies on both a national and state level. The second track is designed to be an interactive and practical guide to navigating the transition into employment and independence.

ThinkEmployment! Summit 2016

ThinkEmployment! Summit 2016

The presence of school groups and self-advocates is always a key highlight of the Summit. The “Employer Mingle” provides students and self-advocates with an opportunity to network with employers and to practice their “elevator pitches.” In previous years, employers from such diverse businesses as Comcast, Holiday Inn, Old School Farm, Averitt, and Goodwill participated. As with last year’s Summit, school groups and adult self-advocates will be provided with guided activities to facilitate networking.

This year’s keynote speakers will be Leanne Roth and Anne Thurston.

Roth has been supporting people with intellectual disabilities to achieve their dreams since 1999 when, after her work as a corporate trainer, she hired someone with a job coach to work in a store she managed. Roth believes that the key to meaningful lives for people who receive services is to encourage, empower, and enlighten the staff who work for them. Currently Roth fulfills that purpose as a partner in Blue Tower Solutions where, in addition to other projects, she provides support to the board of directors and member groups of the Illinois Self-Advocacy Alliance and Council on Quality and Leadership where she works as a Quality Enhancement Specialist.

Thurston is an accomplished speaker who has been active in the self-advocacy movement in Illinois since Illinois Voices! Thurston’s passion is to help people with disabilities, their staff, and employers understand that all people are equal and that people with disabilities are here and ready to overcome barriers.

The 2017 Summit is collaboratively sponsored by TennesseeWorks, the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), and the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. DIDD and the Council have been instrumental in developing sessions for the Summit and arranging the keynote speakers.

TennesseeWorks is supported by a Project of National Significance: Partnerships in Employment Systems Change grant from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Register now! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn about best practices in competitive employment and to network with self-advocates, government leaders, families, and industry professionals.

Cost to attend the Summit is $50 for general admission, and $25 for family members and self-advocates participating in Track 1. Registration is limited—please register as soon as possible. Click here to register. Please note: Track 2 registration for students and self-advocates will open in early August at www

For more information on the 2017 Think Employment! Summit, please email or call (615) 343-4138.

Click here to view a promo video for the Summit

Rachael Jenkins is dissemination program coordinator for TennesseeWorks.


This is a monthly email of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Notables published by the Communications staff of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.