The National Organization on Disability

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Add Us In - New York/New Jersey

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Add Us In is a new initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The initiative is designed to identify and develop strategies to increase employment opportunities within the small business community for individuals with disabilities. Included within the small business community are targeted businesses that are owned and operated by minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, women, veterans and people with disabilities.

Small business is the engine of U.S. economic growth, and the data on minority business growth clearly shows that minority-owned and operated firms are a significant contributor to the long term health of the United States economy. Over the past 10 years, minority-owned businesses have grown at approximately double the rate of all firms in the U.S. economy. If one considers the growth of additional targeted businesses such as those owned and operated by women or individuals with disabilities, then the influence of these businesses is even greater. Given this level of growth in the small business community, one of the high-priority goals of the Add Us In Initiative is to create business engagement models that can be replicated on a national scale. Related to this goal is the companion goal of building national and local networks of experts skilled in connecting small employers with the underutilized talent pool that is people with disabilities.

Consortium’s Vision

The Add Us In project serves small businesses in northern New Jersey and New York City, including small LGBTI-, minority-, and women-owned businesses, who seek to build a more inclusive workplace by hiring and promoting New Jersey residents with disabilities.

The project will build on the experience NOD has gained from its three signature projects: Bridges to Business, the Wounded Warrior Careers program, and the Start on Success Transition project. Add Us In will assemble multiple partners, led by NOD and further including the Workforce Investment Board, Vocational Rehabilitation, T.E.E.M. Gateway, the LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, JVS and Goodwill of New Jersey and New York, the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center as well as youth career seekers with disabilities and representatives from groups of black, female, and Hispanic business owners.

The project will work in partnership with—and in service to—a consortium of northern New Jersey and New York City businesses. The project’s activities will range from supporting internship and mentorship for youth who are beginning their career search, to direct connection and support of adult career seekers in competitive employment. In every discreet activity we pursue, our goal will be the same: to introduce the New Jersey and New York City business community to a heretofore undiscovered talent pool.

Read more about Add Us In, the Office of Disability Employment Policy, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Benefits to Businesses

Thousands of employers realize the benefits of tapping into a diverse talent pool of workers with disabilities. Not only do they gain quality employees, they receive many other benefits.

Save Time and Money

Capitalize on New Markets & Increase your Customer Base

Increased Productivity

The Facts about Employing People with Disabilities

Research and Publications

Image of Report Cover

Through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Add Us In initiative, NOD has piloted a program to connect employers with candidates with disabilities by forging relationships through local chambers of commerce. This brief explores the role chambers of commerce can play in linking employers to people with disabilities.

See more disability employment research and publications.

Training and Resources

A number of organizations in the New Jersey/New York regional area offer training opportunities for employers seeking to hire individuals with disabilities, including the Add Us In Consortium Members. Examples include:

For Youth

See more disability resources for employers and individuals with disabilities nationwide.

Consortium Members



Candidate Pipeline Team

Elaine Blake, Team Leader

Manager of Special Projects, JVS of Metro West

Joel Blank

Transition Specialist, Newark Public School District

Scott Chesney

Executive Director, The Raise Hope Foundation

Dana Egreczky

President, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce

Cynthia Mapp

Program Manager, New Jersey Division of Disability

Solo Okonkwo

Supervising Vocational Rehab Counselor, New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

Nelida Valentin

Executive Director, Newark Workforce Investment Board

Ken Karamichael

Director, Rutgers T.E.E.M. Gateway/YES Centers

Project Management Team
Howard Green

Deputy Director, Corporate Programs, National Organization on Disability

Maria Heidkamp

Senior Project Managers, John J. Heldrich Center on Workforce Devel

Joanne Kaiser

Add Us In New Jersey Project Director, National Organization on Disability

Employer Recruitment Team

Travis Reid, Team Lead

Operations Specialist, Newark Workforce Investment Board

Rebecca Shulman

Manager of Special Projects, JVS of Metro West

Lori Friedman

Director of Rehabilitation Services, Goodwill Industries of New Jersey & New York

John Harmon

President, African American Chamber of Commerce

Rev. Carmen Hernandez-DeArmas

President, New York City LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Ken Karamichael

Director, Rutgers T.E.E.M. Gateway/ YES Centers

Frank Latham

Youth Self-Advocacy, NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities

Greg Makely

Project Director, NJ WINS, New Jersey Family Resource Network

Advisory Team
Dan Baker

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities

Paula Barber

Senior Research Project Manager, John J. Heldrich Center on Workforce Development

Judith Formalarie

Senior Project Manager, Talent Networks, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce