6th Annual Summit

Vocational Rehabilitation
Program Evaluation & Quality Assurance

September 16-17, 2013 | Providence, RI


Download the collection of tweets posted to #vrsummit on twitter.com

Download the transcript (MS WORD)


Creativity, Measurement & Messaging: Moving Towards Stronger Practices

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Although promoting employment of people with disabilities remains a major priority among policymakers and practitioners, there is a dearth of evidence on what works in this area. Summit keynote speaker David Wittenburg will address barriers and facilitators to developing evidence on the efficacy of employment interventions and will provide an overview of some of the key ingredients needed to develop effective interventions that can be convincing to skeptics. Focusing on three general concepts of creativity, measurement, and messaging, Wittenburg will discuss how these key ingredients used in harmony can convince skeptical audiences and help to spread promising practices. Wittenburg will explore these concepts in action through recent demonstrations, such as the Youth Transition Demonstration. Attendees will learn how to test new ideas and scale up existing ideas for better practices and, ultimately, policies.

David Wittenburg is a senior researcher in the Center for Studying Disability Policy and an associate director in the health division at Mathematica Policy Research. He has directed projects that examine interventions to promote employment among people with disabilities. He has published reports, journal articles, and policy briefs for the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Education on employment initiatives for people with disabilities and has a specific interest in interventions for transition-age youth. Wittenburg has also written extensively and testified before Congress on the challenges facing youth who receive Supplemental Security Income in transitioning to independence. He joined Mathematica in August 2005. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Syracuse University.


People, Tools & Processes: The Secrets to Excellence in Service

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In a vocational rehabilitation world driven by numeric results, excellence in service provision is often lost. Keynote Steve Dickinson will address what, why and how excellence is achieved in the real world. He will explore how management can propel excellence by refining formal practices, linking measurements to customer needs, and “just do it” actions.

Tools and processes will then be paired with how to on-board already overwhelmed staff and other complications that arise from a less predictable human element. Kotter’s Model for creating change, the Baldridge Model for enterprise excellent as well as lessons learned during Dickinson’s thirty-three years of experience will guide a riveting discussion on harnessing the power of people, tools and processes.

Steve Dickinson is the President and CEO of PQS, Inc., an international management services and training firm specializing in Performance Excellence. Dickinson spent 23 years at Florida Power and Light Company, a winner of Japan’s famed Deming Prize for Excellence, in various leadership roles, from construction crew supervisor to corporate sales manager. In addition has served as the President of the Melbourne-Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce, and CEO of Enduris Extrusions in Jacksonville, Florida. Dickinson is the author of 19 workbooks in the area of performance excellence, including PQS’s multiprocess Six-Sigma curriculum, and author of The Turnaround,. He is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.S. degree in Industrial Technology, a certified Application Expert in Quality Tools and Techniques and a Six-Sigma Master Black Belt.


Posters & Exhibits
An early evening PE/QA Academy will provide an opportunity for attendees to hear from national leaders as well as to speak with poster presenters and exhibitors from across the field.

Posters include:

SuRGE: An Engine for Emergent Knowledge in VR Performance | Presented by Andrew Clemons
An interactive display explors the history, development, and future-scape of the Summit Reading Groups for Excellence (SuRGE), a professional learning community.

California VR Service Delivery Teams | Presented by Pat Santillanes
Poster focuses on California’s shift to a new VRSD team model that provides a more consumer-centric team and collaborative approach to implement VR service delivery processes.

Learn more about Posters in Schedule.


List of Chat & Chew Table Topics (downloadable PDF)

Round Table Discussion Groups

Attendees may sign up for a topic at the registration table on Sunday and Monday. Seating is limited, and will be determined by a first-come first-serve basis. Each round table will have a facilitator who will ask the group a series of questions to stimulate conversation. Come share successes, ask questions, and learn about resources, trends, and promising practices. The time will fly. After the conference, notes from table topic conversations may be posted on VRSummit.org.

A few examples of topics:

VR Performance Measurement | Facilitated by Michael Quinn
What measurements should states choose? How should they measure? How can data be used? Share promising practice in performance measurements.

VR Case Reviews: Quality & Compliance Issues | Facilitated by HarrietAnn Litwin
What are VR case review techniques, protocol & issues? Share lessons learned and best practices.

Supporting End Users as part of Project Management | Facilitated by Joshua Howe
Change is a constant in State VR. Project management primarily focuses on creating this change and often doesn’t address the impact on staff. This discussion will focus on strategies to support staff through change, minimizing the impact and easing the transition.


Moderated by Mark Schultz
How do VR directors use data in their leadership and decision-making and how are client services impacted by data and evaluative efforts? What are the Connections and challenges between leadership and program evaluation/quality assurance units? Join a panel of northeastern VR Directors as they discuss these questions and more.

Panelists: Amy L. Porter, Director, Department of Social Services in Hartford CT; Betsy Hopkins, Director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Augusta ME and President-elect of CSAVR (effective July 1, 2014); Debora Brown-Johnson, Assistant Commissioner, NY State Education Department’s ACCES-VR services, in Albany NY; and Stephen Brunero, Associate Director, Office of Rehabilitation Services, in Providence RI