In honor of Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month, you are invited to join the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and JEVS Human Services, a leader in connecting job seekers with employment opportunities for more than 80 years, to a panel discussion about the changing career landscape for people living with disabilities in times of COVID.
The panel will explore how the pandemic impacted employment for people with disabilities and what new opportunities have emerged for those seeking employment. Hear from employers, advocates, service providers and clients with first-hand experience navigating the labor market during COVID.
Virtual EVENT DETAILS
Monday, February 28
For questions or for more information, contact Jason Holtzman, Director of JCRC, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Susan Schonfeld, Executive Director of Community Integrated Services (CIS)
- Julia Barol, President of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE)
- Suzanne Erb, Disability Navigator at the JEVS Human Services operated Suburban Station CareerLink and self-advocate
- Luke Tomczuk, Travel Trainer at Community Integrated Services (CIS) and Community Outreach Specialist at Temple University.
- Robb Opp, Sourcer, TD Bank
Moderated by Julia Blackwell, Executive Director of JEVS hireAbility, a program of JEVS Human Services
Click on the panelists below to learn more about them.
Julia Blackwell is the Executive Director of JEVS Human Services disability employment program, JEVS hireAbility. Before taking over JEVS hireAbility, Julia joined JEVS in 2018 as the Director of Business Development supporting the Disability Employment and Community Health programs. She is currently a member of the JEVS Diversity Equity & Inclusion Council, Justice Coordinating Committee, and Business Development team. Julia’s background encompasses improving quality employment outcomes for people with disabilities, policy, and advocacy. Julia currently serves in various advocacy capacities championing Employment First efforts including serving on the PA APSE Board, the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Executive Council, and previously chairing the employment committee of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities. Julia believes in connecting people and bridging siloed systems with the intention for those systems to better serve the people. Julia is a graduate of Temple University, an avid fan of Philly sports, food, and traveling.
As Executive Director of CIS for over 30 years, Susan has overseen the agency’s remarkable growth from a university pilot program to the region’s largest supported employment agency serving over 2,000 people annually in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. Susan has become a “go-to” source of information and expertise in employment services for people with disabilities. She has worked on Senator Bob Casey’s Employment Roundtable, sits on the board of Pennsylvania’s APSE chapter, and works as a consultant for other states and organizations on implementing effective community-based employment models. Susan was the recipient of National APSE’s Best Practices Award in 2014, earned for her unwavering commitment to the best interests of people with disabilities, along with her contributions to the Employment First movement. Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in Special Education from The College of New Jersey and a master’s degree in Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Julia Barol is on staff at Temple University Institute on Disabilities working on Employment and Transition systems issues. She is also President of Transition Consults where her work focuses on creating meaningful days for people with disabilities. She believes that everyone should have to opportunity to live and work in their community and be able to self-direct their lives. She is president of the Pennsylvania chapter of APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First) and has been working to advance Employment First in Pennsylvania since 2012. She serves on the national APSE Board of Directors as both the Delegate Chair and the Mid-Atlantic States Delegate. Julia was a part of the initial cohort of the Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach (BPAOs) and the rollout of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act and was certified as a benefits counselor in 2001. She has counseled hundreds of people on work and its impact on benefits so that people can make informed decisions about their future, and she has trained groups on work incentives, Social Security benefits, and healthcare options for many years. Julia holds a Masters in Secondary Special Education and Transition from The George Washington University.
Suzanne Erb’s career in self-advocacy and inclusion has been a life-long pursuit. From her matriculation into her local public high school which she was the first totally blind student in 1971, before the passing of pl. 94-142, she has demonstrated her belief that, with determination, advocacy, and willingness to think creatively to find solutions, many problems can be solved. Suzanne is currently the Disability Navigator at the JEVS-operated Suburban Station CareerLink. She previously held roles including Accessibility Advisor at Networks for Training and Development, the Board of Directors of Disability Rights Pennsylvania, and chaired the City of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Commission on People with disabilities. She currently serves as a member of various advisory committees, and chairs the Philadelphia Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) of the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR).
Suzanne is knowledgeable about accessibility and assistive technology for people who are blind, which she uses both personally and professionally, and has helped people to make informed decision regarding the purchase of assistive technology for their personal use. She also provides disability etiquette training for the University of Pennsylvania, as well as other organizations. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Counseling Psychology, and she brings over 30 years of experience in direct service, case management supervision, and training in the disabilities field. In her spare time, Ms. Erb is a professional musician, serving as an organist, soprano, and choir director for over 25 years.
Luke Tomczuk is a travel trainer for Community Integrated Services as well as a community outreach specialist for Temple University University’s Department of Rehabilitation Sciences REACH (Research, Engagement and Advocacy for Community Participation and Health) Lab. Prior to his employment at CIS, he was a peer support specialist with Community Behavioral Health (CBH). Luke earned his BA in history at Temple University in May of 2019. Luke is currently enrolled in the Public Policy MS program at Temple University. Luke’s passion is autism advocacy. Luke is providing needed services in his community, especially teaching autistic individuals public transportation skills. Luke’s skill set allows individuals with Autism to come closer to their goals within society.
Rob Opp is a Sourcer for TD Bank who focuses on the Veteran and Individuals with Diverse Abilities (IwDA) communities. He focuses on strengthening TD’s relationships with those communities by advocating for their employment and creating mentorship and volunteer opportunities. He has worked with organizations including Project Search, Specialisterne, and the City Universities of New York (CUNY).
Rob is an Army veteran, and his time included a deployment to Afghanistan and time in Jordan. He served as a Maintenance Control and Information Operations Officer, and retired at the rank of Captain. Before working at TD, Rob worked with the MLB team the Washington Nationals, the MLB Network, and Major League Baseball. He takes great pride in building inclusive hiring initiatives and connecting with all underrepresented demographics.
Rob lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Emily, daughter Olivia, and dog Brutus. They are expecting their second child in May.