2016 Employment First Summit  Trailblazing:  Charting Our Employment Path

Work and Disability Stigma
Erin Riehle- Project SEARCH Co-founder

Erin will discuss a study that explored workplace stigma, as assessed through co-worker perceptions over time, toward transition aged youth (i.e. 18-22 years of age) with ID who entered a mainstream workforce following the completion of Project SEARCH.  Study findings  supported the framework that youth with ID face challenges as they seek employment in fully immersed work settings, including stigma- initial negative perceptions related to their capabilities and behaviors.  In this study, Project SEARCH played a key role in shifting coworker perceptions of youth with ID from initially stigmatic reactions toward workplace acceptance.

Erin Riehle, RN, MSN  Erin is a recognized authority and national leader in promoting employment opportunities for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. She is a founder and Senior Director of Project SEARCH, an employment and transition program that has received national recognition for innovative practices pioneered under Ms. Riehle's guidance. She is regularly invited to present at national and regional conferences, and has co-authored numerous publications and book chapters. She has served on many national committees, such as the Virginia Commonwealth University Business Leadership Roundtable and the Youth to Work Coalition. She is a past board member for the Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE). She is also a past member of the Ohio Governor's Council on People with Disabilities. She has gained over $3 million dollars in foundation and agency support for Project SEARCH programs, and has won numerous awards for her work. Notably, Project SEARCH received the U.S. Department of Labor's 2004 New Freedom Initiative Award and was the Inaugural recipient of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s 2010 James W. Varnum National Quality Award.