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New DirectEmployers Team Member to Lead National Disability & Employment Initiative

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

DirectEmployers Association (DE) would like to formally welcome to the staff, Julie Cook, Operations Manager for the National Labor Exchange (NLX). To many of you, Julie is no stranger. She has actively been working with the Business Development team for the last year to assist in developing what is now taking shape as a national disability and employment initiative for DE Member companies.

Over the next 12-18 months, Julie will be writing a series of blog posts with the intent of helping the compliance, recruiting and human resource professionals in your organization better understand integration of individuals with disabilities into the workplace, creating inclusive environments, building internal capacity, and sourcing prospective candidates in your organization. Her first post, “NPRM for 503: Ready, Set, Go?” is now available in the Pipeline.

Julie comes to us with a diverse background in both the private and public sectors. She has a BA in Political Science from Indiana University and is currently seeking her Master’s in Public Administration from Indiana State University. Julie started her professional career in financial services, obtaining her Series 7 and 63, where she provided portfolio consultation and sales services, business development and SEC compliance oversight. She also has an additional 5 years’ experience in retail management and has insight into the struggles that many companies encounter in the day to day balancing of business and personnel needs.

She entered public employment in the Indiana Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning (OMPP). There, Julie worked on a variety of initiatives, including policy review and implementation process development, provided communications, oversight of all Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policies and procedures, and creation of the internal governance manual utilized by OMPP staff.

Ultimately, Julie found her passion when she took over direction of a federally funded grant, known as the Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG). The MIG was created with the goal of creating infrastructure that removes barriers and increases opportunities to employment for individuals with all types of disabilities. In 2010, she moved from OMPP to the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) and worked with the state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program to further the goals of the MIG in Indiana.
Through the MIG, Julie with the BRS and MIG leadership was able to create a five year strategic plan for the state of Indiana to further the goal of increasing employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The plan focused on four strategic areas in Indiana where the MIG could create actual impact to systems; one of those goals was better engaging the business community in the hiring and advancing of individuals with disabilities in their employment ranks. The MIG supports many business related activities including the Business Leadership Network (BLN), Project Search, and Corporate Development, including a strong relationship with the regional Department of Labor (DOL) staff.

Through this relationship with the DOL, DE was introduced to Julie and decided to bring her on staff to lead both the next generation of the National Labor Exchange, now under us.jobs, and work with Member companies to identify needs, solutions and resources in implementing the proposed changes to Section 503.