OUR VR Y-TAC TEAM
Deputy Director, Center for Workforce Development
Mindy Larson is Deputy Director of the Center for Workforce Development at the Institute for Educational Leadership. She currently serves as a senior manager for the Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Technical Assistance Center (YTAC) as well as the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth), a federal technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Since joining IEL in 2010, Larson has provided technical assistance on a wide range of youth transition issues to state and local youth service professionals in workforce development agencies, postsecondary institutions, special education transition programs, state education agencies, and other human service agencies.
Through a cooperative partnership with Cornell. Wendy serves in the role of Co-Project Director of the VR Y-TAC, a national technical assistance center funded by the US Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration. In this role, Wendy provides leadership to the team of Technical Assistance Liaisons and Program Associates who are charged with supporting state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies to recruit and serve youth with disabilities under the new federal guidelines provided by the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). Wendy brings to the VR Y-TAC and IEL over 30 years of experience focusing on employment services for youth and adults who experience life with a disability. She has spent a majority of her career directing projects dedicated to providing education, training and staff development to professionals in the vocational rehabilitation field. Wendy is currently employed by Cornell University’s K. Lisa Yang, Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability as an Extension Associate where she is assigned to manage the VR Y-TAC project and the New York State Consortium for the Advancement of Supported Employment Project.
Jessica Queener, Ed.D., joined IEL as a senior program associate for the Center for Workforce Development in 2017. For the past 16 years, in Tennessee and D.C., Jessica has collaborated with key stakeholders in assisting youth and young adults with disabilities transition to adult life. Prior to coming to IEL, Jessica managed the communications and outreach and assisted in programmatic activities for the Youth Transitions Collaborative (YTC) at The HSC Foundation. The YTC brings together multiple organizations (50+) that focus on transition-related services, research, policies, and best practices to help young people with disabilities transition from adolescence to adulthood and school to work.
Senior Technical Assistance Liaison
Randy has been in vocational rehabilitation for the past 27 years. His professional career started by working in the early 1990s at a wilderness camp with youth who were adjudicated. He then worked in a sheltered workshop, was a case manager and finally a job coach serving individuals with intellectual disabilities until the late 1990s. He has worked with a variety of disability populations, but his focus over the last several years has been working with individuals who have involvement in the criminal justice system. He was the lead staff on several VR projects in Pennsylvania to improve employment outcomes for those with disabilities in the criminal justice system. In 2017, he developed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services to blend funding with the specific purpose of supporting youth in the juvenile justice system obtain positive employment outcomes.
Cornell University Extension Associate
Technical Assistance Liaison
Kimberly Osmani is a Technical Assistance Liaison for the Y-TAC through her role as an Extension Associate at Cornell University. Kim has extensive experience in working with youth with disabilities–first as a special education teacher for 10 years, then as an Associate State Director of Special Education Services at the Oklahoma State Department of Education, and finally as the Statewide Transition Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. She holds two master’s degrees—in special education and educational administration, and is currently working toward her doctorate in special education–transition. Kim Chairs the Oklahoma Transition Council, is Secretary for Oklahoma’s Chapter of the Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT), is Chair of the CEC-DCDT Policy and Advocacy Committee, and is Past President of the National Rehabilitation Association Transition Specialties Division.
Cornell University Extension Associate
Through a partnership with Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor and Relations, Leslie joined IEL’s Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Technical Assistance Center (Y-TAC) team in January, 2018. She focuses on data and evaluation of the Y-TAC technical assistance efforts with vocational rehabilitation programs and related rehabilitation professionals. Along with a masters in counseling and doctorate in quantitative psychology, Leslie brings experience from business, non-profits, and academic research to her role in Y-TAC. She started her career as a systems analyst before shifting to research and program evaluation at the Center for Child and Family Health, a non-profit in Durham, North Carolina affiliated with Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina Central University.
Whitney joined IEL in December 2017. She will be working as a Program Associate with the Center for Workforce Development and specifically on the Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Technical Assistance Center (Y-TAC) initiative. Whitney graduated from Catholic University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in Spanish. Throughout college, she held a variety of internship and job positions including Conference Coordinator for Catholic University’s Conference on Human Trafficking, Crisis Counselor for So Others Might Eat, and Social Work Intern for the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project (HCPP). Throughout her HCPP internship she learned what it takes to run a nonprofit aimed at serving youth and families experiencing homelessness in DC. She compiled a wide range of resources for parents, managed playtime enrollment and attendance, edited HCPP’s training presentations, as well as conducted child play therapy.
Sylvie joined IEL in December 2017. She will be working as a Program Associate with the Center for Workforce Development and specifically on the Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Technical Assistance Center (Y-TAC) initiative. Sylvie graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Urban Studies and Communication. Throughout college, she held a variety of internship and job positions in non-profits, both domestically and internationally. In 2013, Sylvie spent two months in Peru building latrines and leading community health fairs and subsequently volunteered as an English language teacher at a public elementary school while studying abroad in the Netherlands. In Pittsburgh, Sylvie wrote articles on current issues within education for online viewing and assisted with creating a guide for parents and tutors for the recent changes to Common Core State Standards at the time with the Pittsburgh Assistance Center for Educators and Students.
Jessica joined IEL in December 2017. As Program Associate, she supports the Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Technical Assistance Center, a groundbreaking initiative that provides state vocational rehabilitation programs and related professionals with technical assistance and training to help more effectively serve youth with disabilities. Prior to joining IEL, Jessica interned as a Law Clerk for the U.S Department of Justice. Under the Environment and Natural Resources Division, she did extensive research on prior legislation as well as writing about findings and supported attorneys in organizing paperwork and information in preparation for trials, hearings, and depositions. Jessica was also a Refugee and Migration Intern at Save the Children, an international non-governmental organization that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries. There, Jessica reviewed and edited proposals and reports prior to submission to donors, including the US State Department and the UN Refugee Agency.