Self Determination, Health & Policy Overview

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Syntiro is home to the Center for Self Determination, Health & Policy.

Initiatives in the Self Determination, Health & Policy Division


June 11, 2014

Maine ASPE and State Department of Labor Hosts Conference Featuring National Experts

The event focused on employment and career advancement for people with disabilities

The Maine Department of Labor’s Bureau of Rehabilitation Services collaborated with Maine APSE and the New England Technical Assistance Center (NETACE) on its biannual conference. This year’s theme was “Celebrating Partnerships.” APSE is the state chapter of a national organization with an exclusive focus on integrated employment and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

The conference was held at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, on June 11, 2014.

Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette and Gail Fanjoy, president of Maine APSE, welcomed participants to the conference. The opening plenary session, “The Future of Vocational Rehabilitation,” was presented by Janet LaBreck, commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Education. Although Commissioner LaBreck lost her vision by the age of ten, she has never let her disability get in the way of her dreams. She is a strong proponent of collaboration among partner agencies so that people with disabilities have the supports they need to allow them to live and work within their communities.

The featured keynote address, “Prison to Paycheck: Community Release, Employment Re-Entry and Impacted Recidivism for Offenders with Disabilities,” was made by Gordon Swensen and Randall Loss. Swensen is the director of statewide strategic alliances for the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation in Salt Lake City. Loss is an offender workforce development specialist and offender employment retention specialist with 20 years in employment services and is currently a vocational rehabilitation specialist with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. He is the agency liaison with Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections, Board of Probation and Parole, and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. 

September 26, 2012

Employment for ME's Workforce Development System held a Maine Mentor Program Orientation Wednesday, September 26, 2012 in Augusta, Maine. We are thrilled to have a highly qualified group of experienced employment specialists this year who will be providing mentoring to our new employment specialists (proteges).  Lee Hockridge and Jeff Hooke, both from KFI, will be providing support to the mentors. 

Welcome all and here's to a successful and rewarding year of learning! 





NEW Maine Snaphot 2012: Maine Workers with Disabilities

 "Fireside Chat" Information Sessions by the CRP Project

“Coming together with Rehabilitation Providers” (CRP) Project is having “Fireside Chat” information sessions on October 5th and October 24th  from 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.  for VRC’s and CRP’s to learn more about the work of the Project and offer feedback. 

The CRP Project is to maximize the skills and expertise of all counseling staff and increase the number of successful employment closures by investigating and implementing changes in Community Rehabilitation Provider (CRP) services.  During the information sessions CRP Project leadership and members will provide an overview of the Project, offer updates from each workgroup, and will be available to answer questions and accept feedback.

 Session # 1 – October 5 – Live from Central Maine Commerce Center – Augusta (Polycom available at Portland, Springvale, and Lewiston CareerCenters)  Please click on this link to register:

 Session # 2 – October 24 – Live from Bangor CareerCenter (Polycom available at Machias and Presque Isle CareerCenters)  Please click on this link to register:

NOTE: If you are unable to attend but would like to share your thoughts or concerns about the Project, please do so by clicking on either survey link and entering your feedback. For planning purposes, please RSVP for the October 5th session by September 25th and for the October 24th session by October 10th. 

If you are interested in gaining more information about the Project, please review the information on our website at:

Employment for ME Workforce Development System is pleased to announce a new FREE monthly series
for Maine CRPs and Work Support providers and Continuing Education Hour Credits will be awarded!

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine Department of Labor and Syntiro are excited about hosting monthly webinars for community rehabilitation leaders across the state.  Each hour long session will provide ample time for discussion and questions.

Issues to be covered in this new monthly series include:

  • All You Want and Need to Know About Maine’s Workforce Development System
  • Strengthening Maine’s employment support services
  • Lessons from Maine’s Medicaid Infrastructure Grant
  • Maine’s Business Leadership Network
  • Employment First Maine
  • Performance based contracting
  • Training for rep payees

Upcoming Trainings

ACRE Training - Innovative Employment Strategies:  A Comprehensive Training Series

Training Dates for 2012 Maine Series: October 9,10, 11 (1/2 day on the 11th) October 23 & 24 November 7 & 8 Times: All days run from 9AM–4PM (seated by 9:00) with the exception of the half day on October 11, which runs from 9-noon.

Location: John Dority Training Center, 10 Mountain Ave., Fairfield, Maine

Check the WDS Calendar for more details.

to the 28 Graduates of our ACRE training
conducted by Griffin-Hammis in February 2012.


November 7, 2011

Employment for ME's Workforce Development System held a Maine Mentor Program Orientation Monday, November 7th, 2011 in Augusta, Maine.


November 2011 - Employing abilities | Procter & Gamble opens its doors to a new kind of worker
By REBECCA GOLDFINE, Mainebiz staff reporter

Daniel Twitchell is a 21-year-old recent high school graduate who can’t vocalize more than 50 or so words. To express his needs, he uses signs, word boards and a tablet programmed with simple phrases and words. Despite this limitation, he landed a job at Procter & Gamble’s Tambrands factory in Auburn this summer, and since then, has become the face of P&G’s inclusive hiring initiative. When the company on Aug. 2 unveiled a new manufacturing station where Twitchell and other employees with disabilities work, it was Twitchell who cut the ribbon. >>Read more

Journeys for Women Life Coaching Opportunity


  • Do you have an issue, dream, or challenge you want to explore?
  • Would you like guidance toward: making powerful life choices, a more balanced life, a fulfilled life?
  • Do you need support staying committed to your personal goals?

Then life-coaching is the learning experience you are looking for! 

>>Visit the Journeys for Women website to find out how you can participate in this life-changing experience!

ACRE Approved Basic Employment Services Certificate Training: With an Emphasis on Customized Employment 

Monday, March 16, 2015 - Friday, March 20, 2015  
 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Calumet Club, 334 West River Road, Augusta, ME

This five day immersion training will cover: 

  • Overview of Customized Employment Strategies and Techniques 
  • Steps & Stages of Discovering Personal Genius 
  • Designing Discovery Activities that Illuminate Skills, Not Just Interests
  • Self-Employment
  • Developing The 3 Vocational Themes
  • Conducting Informational Interviews with Businesses 
  • Constructing the Job Development Lists of 20
  • Systematic Instruction and Job Analysis
  • Community Resources, Social Capital and Creative Support Strategies
  • Work Incentives and PASS Plans
  • Transition from school to work 

Griffin‐Hammis' outstanding Employment Specialist curriculum will be taught by Beth Keeton with Debbie Gilmer.

Griffin-Hammis Associates, LLC specializes in community rehabilitation improvement, job creation and job site training, employer development Social Security benefits analysis and work incentives, self-employment feasibility and refinement, management, leadership mentoring, and civic entrepreneurship. 

Syntiro provides personalized technical assistance and innovative professional learning opportunities designed to enhance organizational and individual capacity.  

Beth Keeton is a Senior Consultant at Griffin-Hammis Associates, LLC.  Currently, she oversees the Certified Business and Technical Assistance (CBTAC) programs administered by the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.  Additionally, Beth works on numerous other Customized and Self Employment initiatives throughout the country including:  The Florida Rural Routes to Employment, the New Jersey Customized Employment Initiative, and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.  Beth also serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Social Capital.

Debbie Gilmer
is director of the Employment for ME Workforce Development System at Syntiro and directs the Maine HEP program supporting migrant and seasonal farmworkers to attain their GED and improve their employment. She is the President of Maine APSE and a member of Employment First Maine. She has provided professional development and consultation on many topics in Maine and nationally and is a well respected and passionate educator.

Cost: $325 (lunch and materials provided)

2014 ACRE Class

Maine’s Workforce Development System, a project of Syntiro, held its 2014 ACRE Employment Specialist training April 14-18 at the Calumet Club in Augusta. Beth Keeton of Griffin-Hammis Associates’ Florida office was the lead instructor with support from Debbie Gilmer, Executive Director of Syntiro. We had 29 fabulous participants from agencies all over the state. The training, leading to certification as an Employment Specialist, included an overview of customized employment, discovering personal genius, Social Security work incentives, informational interviews and systematic instruction.




Participant Quotes

Loved doing the informational interviews in the workshop! :)
I'm unsure what could make this training more meaningful for me, as I was totally impressed with how it was conducted. The use of group brainstorming sessions goes hand in hand with what is being taught at these workshops as it plays into what we do on an everyday basis.

You are very respectful for all learning styles. I appreciate your understanding of mine and your patience answering all the questions I had. I feel like you presented information in a lot of different ways and it made information understandable for all.

Since I am a new service provider, with my own company, I can take immediate action and adopt much of what I learned from this class into my operating plan.

ACRE Employment Specialist Training was held June 3 - 7, 2013 at the Calumet Club in Augusta, Maine. 

 This five day immersion training covered.

  • Overview of Customized Employment Strategies and Techniques
  • Steps & Stages of Discovering Personal Genius
  • Designing Discovery Activities that Illuminate Skills, Not Just Interests
  • Self Employment
  • Developing The 3 Vocational Themes
  • Conducting Informational Interviews with Businesses
  • Constructing the Job Development Lists of 20
  • Systematic Instruction and Job Analysis
  • Community Resources, Social Capital and Creative
  • Support Strategies
  • Work Incentives and PASS Plans Transition from school to work 

The Bureau of Rehabilitation requires employment specialists and job coaches be ACRE certified. This training is very appropriate for educators working with youth in transition as well as work support providers receiving funding from DHHS. Griffin-Hammis' outstanding Employment Specialist curriculum was taught by Russell Stickles and Debbie Gilmer.

Participant Quote:

The training was a great opportunity for me. Russell did a super job of sharing so much information in so little time, and making it understandable for everyone. He even made the dry stuff interesting:) and I don't think there is a question out there about Customized Employment that Debbie can't answer.  I love learning and KFI has offered me the opportunity to learn about things that really matter.  Things that not only make a difference in peoples daily lives, but have the power to change the Big Picture... that ARE changing the Big Picture.  I'm the first to admit that I'm no leader...But I'm not just a follower either...I'm a follower who needs to know she is being led by the best, and I truly believe that I am.  Thanks again........ Alicia






First ACRE training held February 27 - March 1, 2012 at the Viles Arboretum in Augusta, ME!



Syntiro | 11 South Road Readfield, ME 04355 | p: 1.866.291.0004 or 207.685.3171 | f: 1.866.883.9271

Syntiro is an equal opportunity employer (EOE).

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