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ICI COVID-19 Publications & Resources

The Institute for Community Inclusion (IC) has an ongoing series of publications and resources to help professionals, individuals, and families maintain an Employment First focus through this challenging time. Go to ICI’s special COVID-19 web page.

Employment First Missouri provides training and technical assistance to service providers and staff to advance community employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Missouri. This initiative operates under the guiding principles of Missouri’s Employment First policy that community integrated employment services and supports are the first service option and primary outcome for people with disabilities, and that individual integrated employment is the preferred option for everyone.

The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD) is providing funding to the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston to provide training and technical assistance (TA) under this initiative. As a leading training, TA, research, and direct service organization focused on the full inclusion of people with disabilities in mainstream society, ICI has extensive and long-term experience on a national basis working with service providers and public systems on advancing employment. Since 2009, ICI has partnered with DD on a variety of employment initiatives focused on systems change and provider transformation.

Employment First Missouri Technical Assistance & Services

Under Employment First Missouri, service providers receive training and TA from ICI Missouri-based staff to advance the organization’s community employment efforts. Areas of focus include staffing structures, organizational and staff competency and capacity, service structure and flow, reconfiguration of resources, engagement of individuals and families, and development of business and community partnerships. Specific services include:

What Organizations are Eligible To Participate?

Service providers in Missouri who contract with the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Division of Developmental Disabilities to provide Medicaid waiver employment services for individuals with are eligible to participate at no cost.

To Learn More about Missouri Employment First & Request Technical Assistance:

Are you a professional who wants to improve your skills in helping people with disabilities find and keep fulfilling jobs in the community?

Are you an organization that is looking to strengthen its ability to help individuals succeed in employment?

If so, these free trainings are for you!


Community Employment Overview and Advocacy

Get an overview of employment of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Topics will include:

  1. history and background on movement towards community employment and current status of these efforts,
  2. jargon and terminology,
  3. core values and strategies of community employment,
  4. the growing focus on community integration activities in conjunction with employment.

You’ll also learn ways to help job seekers improve their self-advocacy skills, which are essential for robust community employment and participation.

Planning and Exploration for Employment in the Community

Employment and integration activities should be driven by individual interests, goals, and needs. In this training, you’ll learn the basics of person-centered planning, and how it serves as the basis for the employment and community integration activities an individual pursues. We’ll also look at how person-centered planning guides and is integrated with exploration and discovery activities that assist individuals in determining their preferences for employment.

Business Engagement and Job Development

Developing relationships with businesses is essential for creating employment opportunities. This training will share best practices in employer engagement, with networking as a primary method of connecting with employers. Attendees will learn how to identify and respond to business needs, resulting in strong job matches between the business and job seeker, with effective negotiation strategies at the core.

Community Life Engagement

This session will discuss strategies for identifying and supporting individuals in non-work activities in the community. Emphasizing a person-centered approach, we will review how to identify potential activities, and engage with community organizations. We’ll also explain how to use non-work time to support employment efforts for those who are either working or interested in pursuing employment. Strategies for managing schedules of multiple individuals will also be covered.

Best Practices in Job Coaching and Support Strategies for Community Success

What are the most effective strategies for staff supporting individuals in employment and community integration activities? We will go over the critical importance of staff supplementing, not replacing, existing natural supports, the full range of support strategies you can use, and the importance of facilitating social inclusion in employment and community settings. You’ll also learn about accommodations and assistive technology, as well as strategies for fading.

Promoting Person-First Language: Why Does it Matter?

Person-first language places the emphasis on the individual, rather than the disability. Learn why this is important, and how to incorporate this powerful language style into your communication with individuals and employers, as well as your marketing materials. We’ll discuss how the shift towards person-first language can enhance your workplace culture and promote an environment that focuses on the whole person. We’ll also explore identity-first language and the importance of honoring individual preferences.

Task Analysis and Breaking New Jobs Down

This training focuses on helping individuals learn the core tasks of a new job, or learn new tasks at their current position. We’ll focus on getting to know the individual you’re supporting so that you can break down any new task into steps that person can easily manage. You’ll learn the level and depth that some tasks may need to be broken down into so that individuals can succeed. We’ll also go over ways to choose the best learning method for the individual being supported.

Volunteering: Do’s and Don’ts

In this session, we’ll explore strategies to support individuals in volunteer activities as a method for gaining work-related experiences. We’ll discuss ways to identify volunteer opportunities based on individual interests, guidelines for picking the best options, legal considerations, and pitfalls to avoid. You’ll also learn the ins and outs of other unpaid work experiences, including internships and work assessments.

Using Technology to Support Employment Success

Taking full advantage of technology can help you to assist individuals to thrive in the workplace. Together, we’ll look at how apps and assistive technology can promote independence on the job. In addition, you’ll learn how technology can be used in program operations for documentation and tracking. Web-based information and resources on best practices in employment will also be reviewed.

Training sessions on additional topics are available upon request. To schedule a training or for additional information, please contact:

NICK HOLZ, Training Associate |

JESSICA KEENOY, Training Associate |


David Hoff

david hoff

David Hoff is the Project Director for the Missouri Employment First Project. David has been with the Institute for Community Inclusion for 20 years, doing training and technical assistance with public agencies and service providers across the United States and internationally, and has also written extensively regarding employment of persons with disabilities. A particular emphasis of his work is on public policies and their impact on the lives of people with disabilities. Since 2009, he has done work with the State of Missouri on expanding employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities. Along with his work with disability agencies and organizations, David has also focused on enhancing the ability of the general workforce development system to serve people with disabilities. David has also been a regional workforce development system administrator, and spent several years in a direct service role, assisting individuals with disabilities to find and maintain employment. Prior to entering the human service field, he spent ten years in management roles in the private sector. David is a Past President of APSE, a 3,000+ member national organization focused on integrated employment of people with disabilities. David has a Master’s from Rutgers University, and is also a graduate of Cornell University.

Nicholas Holz

Nick Holz

Nick Holz serves as staff to the Missouri Employment First Project, operated by the Institute for Community Inclusion. In his role, Nick provides training and technical assistance to employment service providers and professional staff throughout Missouri to expand their capacity to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to succeed in employment. Nick previously worked for community rehabilitation providers in three different states: Missouri, Kansas, and Washington State. In these positions, he filled several roles: Employment Specialist, TBI Service Coordinator, Employment Coordinator, and Director of Employment Services. Nick was one of the first 75 individuals to obtain the Certified Employment Support Professional (CESPÔ) from APSE – The Association of People Supporting Employment First. Nick is the former President of the Kansas APSE chapter, and was also a member of the Washington State APSE Board. Nick has a B.A. from Missouri Southern State University.


Phone: 417-437-4155

Jessica Keenoy

Jessica Keenoy

Jessi Keenoy serves as staff to the Missouri Employment First project operated by the Institute for Community Inclusion. In her role, Jessi provides training and technical assistance to employment service providers and professional staff throughout Missouri to expand their capacity to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to succeed in employment. Prior to joining the project, she worked as a Coordinator for Student Services in the Disability Center at the University of Missouri. She was also employed for several years as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the state of Missouri. Additionally, she has professional experience in program management. Jessica earned a Master’s of Education in Educational and Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri.


Phone: 573-303-8770