The Diversity Advantage: Hiring Employees on the Autism Spectrum

Program Time: 8:00 – 10:30 a.m. (Registration and Networking Breakfast 8:00-8:30)

Location: Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), 2001 Maywill Street, 2nd Floor

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Join us to learn from experienced panelists about what it’s like when organizations hire people on the autism spectrum. The employers on our panel will share best practices for recruiting, hiring and supporting diverse talent in the workplace. Deepen your understanding of the employee perspective as panelist Samuel Leckrone, an engineer and self-advocate, shares his personal experiences. You can expect our panelists to speak and answer your questions candidly about available resources, benefits to businesses, the importance of having partnerships along the way, and anything else that’s on your mind.

Panelists:

  • Bill Auchmoody, East Coast Regional Vice President for Partnership Staffing, a CorTech company
  • David Wilf, Founder and CEO of xStellar Inc.
  • Lori Golden, Americas Abilities Strategy Leader, EY
  • Sam Leckrone, Engineer, Virginia Department of Transportation
  • Howard Green, Deputy Director, Professional Services, National Organization on Disability (moderator)

The VABLN is pleased to present this forum in partnership with the Virginia Autism Council.  The VAC is comprised of self-advocates, professionals, and family members working to advance knowledge and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Speaker Bios:

Bill Auchmoody is currently employed as the East Coast Regional Vice President for Partnership Staffing, a CorTech company, a nationwide staffing firm.  Prior to owning Partnership Staffing, he was the Richmond District Manager for Golden Personnel Services, a light industrial staffing firm. In the past Bill has worked as a Marketing Director for the Flood Zone Performing Arts Center, a Regional Service Manager for the James River Corporation, an Account Executive for Paychex Payroll Services, and an Executive Recruiter for the Virginia Employment Corporation.

He graduated from VCU in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science from the School of Business with a concentration in Marketing.  His current community involvement includes Chairman for the Capital Region Workforce Development Board, Board of Directors Capital Region Workforce Investment Board, and past Vice President of Community Affairs Richmond SHRM

David Wilf is a US Air Force veteran and Founder and CEO of xStellar Inc. a company entirely dedicated to helping adults with autism build meaningful careers in Information Technology, direct production support and office administration.  Over the past 29 years David Wilf has been instrumental in leading large-scale multimillion dollar programs in Federal, DoD, education, nonprofit, local government, financial, publishing, healthcare and supply chain arenas.

David is dedicating the rest of his career to providing adults with autism opportunities for success in work environments where their unique skills and abilities bring great value to organizations. The Autism2Work program he established at xStellar Inc. changes the lives of individuals with autism, not through accommodation, but through a focus on proving how what has previously been viewed as a disability can actually be molded into highly sought-after skills in the workforce. This is accomplished through direct training and mentoring of these valued team members as well as autism awareness training and guaranteed performance for the hiring organization.  He majored in Computer Science at Drexel University and holds various certifications including PMP, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Agile Implementation Expert and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.

Lori Golden is EY Americas Abilities Strategy Leader, driving efforts to build an enabling, inclusive environment for people of all abilities. She advises the firm’s over 1,000 member AccessAbilities professional network and its Abilities Champions leaders network. Lori leads initiatives to enhance accessibility in Ernst & Young offices, communications, meetings, trainings and technology, educate EY people on abilities-related issues and create new diverse abilities recruiting strategies and employment models. Lori’s helped build many innovative programs at EY, ranging from WorkWell@EY, the firm’s ergonomics initiative, to new neurodiversity centers of excellence, to a comprehensive awareness and education effort aimed at equipping colleagues to support colleagues who may be struggling with their own or a family member’s mental illness or addiction.

A frequent speaker on disabilities employment issues, Lori serves on the US Department of Labor’s Circle of Champions, the NYC Mayor’s Office People with Disabilities Business Development Council, the NYC Mental Health Alliance, served on the Board of Directors of the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and its Corporate Advisory Board, and is Vice Chair of the Board of TransCen. Lori is a winner of EY’s Chairman’s Values Award and EY’s Better Begins with You Award for Innovation. She’s been with Ernst & Young 20 years and is a graduate of Harvard University.

Sam Leckrone is a successful adult with autism who is committed to advocating for individuals with disabilities. Sam was the first student with autism to be included in regular classes in the Ypsilanti, Michigan school district. Using the public school system to work on social skills, peer interactions, and problem solving, Sam graduated from Ypsilanti High School and was admitted to the University of Michigan College of Engineering. Sam was able to pursue his passion for road design and transportation Engineering, develop lifelong friendships with other Engineers, and successfully complete his Bachelor’s Degree at U of M. He then accepted a graduate fellowship, and completed his Master’s Degree of Transportation Engineering at Purdue University.

Sam was able to navigate the interview process, and was hired by the Virginia Department of Transportation. He now is a licensed Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia and has been certified as a Professional Traffic Operations Engineer. He enjoys problem-solving, interacting with his colleagues, and enjoys a good relationship with his Supervisors. VDOT has been extremely accommodating and supports Sam and other individuals with disabilities in a positive work environment.

Howard Green, Deputy Director of Professional Services, is a nationally-recognized expert in building relationships between companies and the rehabilitation programs that serve many people with disabilities. During his tenure with NOD, Green has assisted a number of corporations mount successful disability employment initiatives, such as Lowe’s, REI, Starbucks, and Kroger. He is a sought-after trainer on the employment of people with disabilities and has been recognized by the National Rehabilitation Association and National Association of Rehabilitation Leaders.

He received the R.N. Anderson Award for Leadership by the Virginia Rehabilitation Association, as well as the USBLN National Partner of the Year Award in 2004. Mr. Green has been active with the US Chamber of Commerce, VCU Business Roundtable, US Business Leadership Network (BLN), and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In addition, he currently serves on the advisory board for the Virginia BLN. Howard holds a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he was also on the faculty for 20 years, and is a published author on employment for people with disabilities. He began his career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and has managed employment programs and job coaches.