About Oregon APSE

We are the Oregon state chapter of APSE, a national non-profit organization that supports Employment First to facilitate the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and community.

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To promote equitable, integrated employment of people with disabilities that recognizes their contributions as community members, we support the following tenets:

  • Communities are enriched when everyone is included in the workforce.
  • Meaningful employment including comparable work hours and compensation is possible for all who choose to work.
  • Everyone has the right to a career path that supports their chosen lifestyle.

National APSE Website

Oregon APSE Vision:

Oregonians with all types of disabilities are employed, enjoy careers, and build assets in pursuit of meaningful lives.

Oregon APSE Mission:

To promote equitable, integrated employment of people with disabilities that recognizes their contributions as community members.

Oregon APSE supports:

  • Integrated individual employment defined as a job that meets the needs of the business community, pays competitive wages, provides comparable benefits and opportunities to fully engage with non-disabled co-workers, and for most people is at least 20 hours per week.

Therefore, Oregon APSE will:

  • Build alliances with advocates, families, employers, providers, funders and local communities to promote integrated individual employment throughout Oregon.
  • Advocate for policies, communication, and training that supports substantial improvement and measurable outcomes specific to integrated individual employment.

Want to become an Oregon APSE Member? Click Here!

Oregon APSE Board Members:

CJ Webb, President

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CJ has supported people in many capacities for over 25 years. She is passionate about providing employment information, so people can live and work based on their skills, strengths, and gifts. She currently works at Vocational Rehabilitation, as a Pre-Employment Transition Services Program Coordinator. She is a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) and a Person-Centered Thinking Mentor Trainer, credentialed through The Learning Community for Person Centered Practices. She has been a Personal Futures Plan facilitator since 1996, and also facilitates other person-centered plans such as Essential Lifestyle Plans (ELP), PATH and MAP. One of her favorite excerpts is: Our jobs should help us take the vacations that help us live a full life. She loves to cook, bake, go backpacking, hiking, and seeing live music. CJ is currently the Oregon APSE Chapter President and newsletter, The Focus, publisher.

Michelle Furman, Regional Vice President

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Michelle holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences from Linfield College. She is excited for the opportunity to help move our communities and individuals forward into integrated employment in Central Oregon. She is a Certified Employment Support Professional with APSE and is a member of the Oregon APSE Board.  She is a strong advocate for integrated community employment and also serves as a member of the Oregon Employment Learning Network (OELN) Discovery Training team. Michelle enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, camping and has plans on restoring her 966 Chevy truck which will be a family project!

Erin Cochrun-Weston, Regional Vice President

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Erin is the Assistant Director of Day and Employment services for Albertina Kerr Centers.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master’s in Organizational Communication from Marylhurst University. Erin is excited and passionate about having the opportunity to help move our communities and individuals forward into integrated employment.  She is a Certified Employment Support Professional with APSE and is a member of the Oregon APSE Board. Erin was hired by Albertina Kerr to build their Employment Service in 2014. To date, Kerr’s Employment services now serve over 30 individuals in supported jobs, and has eleven full time Employment staff. Besides our Employment services, Albertina Kerr also has three Project SEARCH programs throughout the Tri-County area. Kerr was the first agency to start a licensed Project SEARCH program in the state of Oregon, something we are very proud of. Erin is a strong advocate for integrated employment and finds a lot of joy watching employment transform the lives of the individuals we serve. Erin enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking and camping, reading, and also enjoys home remodeling and projects.

Paula Johnson, Treasurer

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Paula has had a passion for employment for people with disabilities for over 30 years and has experience in job development, job analysis, career planning, staff training, marketing and management.  During her nine-year tenure at The University of San Francisco, McLaren School of Business, she directed California’s Supported Employment statewide training projects and led the California Corporate Initiative.  She is the former national Director of Best Buddies Jobs and led the expansion of employment programs across the US and Latin America.  Paula is currently a program specialist with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – Project SEARCH and assists schools, employment agencies, funding agencies and employers with the development of Project SEARCH programs in 15 states and Canada.  Paula’s involvement with APSE has included serving as the President of the APSE Foundation from 2011 to 2014, assisting with the development of the Oregon APSE Chapter, and Treasurer of OR APSE. Paula has had a passion for employment for people with disabilities for over 30 years and has experience in job development, job analysis, career planning, staff training, marketing and management.  During her nine-year tenure at The University of San Francisco, McLaren School of Business, she directed California’s Supported Employment statewide training projects and led the California Corporate Initiative.  She is the former national Director of Best Buddies Jobs and led the expansion of employment programs across the US and Latin America.  Paula is currently a program specialist with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – Project SEARCH and assists schools, employment agencies, funding agencies and employers with the development of Project SEARCH programs in 15 states and Canada.  Paula’s involvement with APSE has included serving as the President of the APSE Foundation from 2011 to 2014, assisting with the development of the Oregon APSE Chapter, Treasurer of Oregon APSE, and the current APSE Regional Delegate for the Northwest and Pacific Region.

Liz Fox, Secretary 

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Liz Fox is the Executive Director of Alternative Work Concepts, a nationally recognized supported employment agency in Eugene, Oregon. She works specifically with people who have multiple physical and intellectual disabilities creating individualized positions in the community based on their interests and abilities. Liz has a BS in Special Education from the University of Vermont. Since coming to Oregon in 1991, she has been involved with a variety of stakeholder groups most recently, the Oregon State Rehabilitation Council and the Executive Order Policy Group. She has been a member of APSE since 2013.

Tara Asai

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Starting as a special education teacher, Tara has worked across disability services for over 35 years. She has been fortunate to learn from inspiring leaders including many individuals receiving services to develop services steeped in person centered planning. During her 13-year tenure at UCP of Oregon and SW Washington, she oversaw the total transition of residential and employment services from congregate to individualized supports. Currently, through Asai & Associates, Inc. and Marc Gold & Associates Inc., she trains and consults on person centered planning, individualized support services, and organizational development. Tara is the President of the Oregon Chapter of APSE. She holds an MS in Special Education and a MMHS (Masters in Management of Human Services) from Brandeis University. Tara is native Oregonian and enjoys the arts, running, swimming, and traveling.

Glen Bishop

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Glenn Bishop, MS, CRC is the Employment Services Manager at Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc. where he has dedicated the last 21 plus years of his career working with employers and job seekers with disabilities to form meaningful and impactful job opportunities.

Ryan Farrow

Ryan brings years of experience in the supported employment field, supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live full lives and contribute to their communities through competitive, integrated employment.

In 2019, Ryan was enthusiastic to join CBRE and Nike’s partnership to nurture an integrative workplace by leveraging the skills and valued contributions of people of all abilities. Based at Nike World Headquarters, he works for CBRE managing the Supported Employment Program to design and implement strategies for leveraging job seekers with I/DD into a variety of positions.

Prior to joining CBRE in January 2019, he worked as a program manager, job coach, job developer, trainer, Highline College instructor and has an Assistive Technology Applications Certification through California State University Northridge.

Tara Mardoll

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Tara is an Employment Services Manager with Living Opportunities, where she started as a job coach in 2015. Tara fell into this work with no previous experience but with a strong desire to use her BS in Psychology to help others to achieve meaningfulness and to reach their fullest potential. She quickly fell in love with job coaching and became passionate about supporting people with disabilities to work in the same businesses as everyone else. Tara loves getting to know people through Discovery as they explore their interests and skills, watching people grow and make connections, and seeing people find the satisfaction in their jobs that she experiences with her own. Tara serves on her HOA’s board and she enjoys weekend trips with her family, spending time with her pets, watching her plants grow, doing random home or craft projects, and eating food that someone else has cooked.

Debra McLean

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Debra is passionate about seeing all people obtain employment. Since 1988, she has been intrigued with community building and person centered planning as a way to see individuals with disabilities succeed in jobs that fit them. She has worked for the University of Oregon and Oregon Health Sciences University on a number of projects involving people with disabilities and employment. Debra provides training and consultation on employment and person centered planning in Washington and Oregon. She has taught classes on these topics at Portland State University in the Teacher Education Program and for Highline Community College. Debra has worked with schools, families, agencies, businesses, and individuals, both in the US and in Australia. She has a MS in Rehabilitation Counseling and Deafness.

Ryley Newport

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Ryley Newport is the Communications Director with the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) in Portland, Oregon. He has worked for the past 10 years in the disability field primarily in the role of expanding the involvement of individuals with disabilities and their family members in social and policy change. Prior to joining OCDD, Ryley worked for the Oregon Self Advocacy Coalition (OSAC), the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment (WISE) and Washington State’s Developmental Disability Council. When not working, he spends his time exploring and surfing in Oregon with his family.

Lisa Ochs

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In 1993 Lisa graduated from Glencoe High school in Hillsboro, Oregon. Upon graduating, she held her first job as a drive through clerk at a fast food restaurant. After two years, she decided that fast food was not the job for her. Through employment services, she landed her second job in a sheltered workshop where she remained for almost 20 years. In 2016, Lisa embarked on her journey into integrated employment.  In 2018, Lisa began the first of her current jobs as a Customer Services Representative for the Hillsboro City Manager’s Office. Shortly after that the City added a second position working as a Customer Services Representative at the Hillsboro Brookwood Library. In addition to those jobs, in September 2019, Lisa became TVW’s first Client Services Associate. In this role, Lisa works to expand awareness and the benefits of supported employment to employers, community members, and her peers. In recognition of all her hard work, Lisa was one of two recipients of ORA’s 2019 Employee of the Year Award. Lisa enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her cat Moxie. She also enjoys camping, bowling, and attending Portland Trailblazer games.

Kathy Sewell

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In the past thirty years Ms. Sewell has been the Executive Director of five different corporations including one two-state not-for-profit corporation and the CEO of her own consulting firm Dancin’ Trees. During her tenure with these organizations, she has utilized an innovative and experiential philosophy to enhance business and program development. Kathy has worked extensively with not-for-profits to enhance their growth potential and business attributes. She has been associated with the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Center for Adolescent Development, Idaho Women’s Network, and the American Cancer Society, among others. Kathy also utilizes her facilitation skills to do team learning with profit corporations, organizations, and government agencies.

In her most recent career, she has worked for Shangri La as the Community Employment Coastal Manager. Shangri La is an organization whose mission is to serve individuals with intellectual disabilities reach their potential. During her tenure with Shangri La she has also been the Board Liaison, Community Engagement Coordinator and Employment Specialist.

Toni Smith

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Toni is the Director of Training and Quality Assurance at TVW, Inc. She began her career working for a non-profit organization supporting people with disabilities in 1994. In 1999 she chose to serve as a medic in the Army National Guard. She rejoined the non-profit sector after completing her military service in 2009 and has remained there since. Toni has had the opportunity to explore a variety of roles including Receptionist, Public Relations, Residential and Employment Support Professional, Residential Coordinator, Employment Coordinator, Employment Area Director, and Trainer. Toni is a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP). Toni finds joy in her job by helping people find their passions, gifts, and skills to live and work how they choose. Away from work, Toni enjoys spending time with her family, Blazer basketball, and exploring the variety of outdoor activities that Oregon has to offer including hiking, Oregon State football, and horseback riding.

Nicholas Von Pless

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Nicholas started at a very young age supporting people with disabilities in recreational activities, and since 2008 has been immersed in Supported Employment. Nicholas specializes in customized employment, seamless transition, program development, strategic planning, and training. In 2017, Nicholas launched Project SEARCH with the City of Portland, in partnership with late City Commissioner Nick Fish. Nicholas also consulted with companies retiring their 14(c) certificates (sub-minimum wage) to start high-quality community employment programs. In his spare time, Nicholas enjoys playing guitar, bicycling, and adventure seeking (near and far) with his family. Nicholas is past President of Oregon APSE.