NGA Convenes Six States to Explore Best Practices to Advance Disability Inclusive Workforce Policy

As Governors work to confront an extremely tight labor market, efforts to reduce barriers to workforce participation and success are increasingly critical for filling in-demand jobs. A key pillar of Governors’ efforts on this issue is expanding inclusive, accessible career opportunities for people with disabilities – who historically experience higher rates of unemployment than people without disabilities.

This month in Albany, New York, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) convened leaders from Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont to explore best practices and advance their disability inclusive workforce policy agenda. In January, the NGA Center, with support from the U.S. Department of Labor’s State Exchange on Employment & Disability, selected these six states to participate in the Disability Inclusive Workforce Policy Learning Collaborative. Through the Learning Collaborative, the NGA Center is supporting these states as they develop plans to expand employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities.

To kick off the event, New York Governor Kathy Hochul hosted the state leaders at the New York State Executive Mansion and shared the progress New York has made to advance workplace inclusion – including by establishing state government as a model employer of people with disabilities through Executive Order No. 31.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul addresses state leaders participating in NGA’s Disability Inclusive Workforce Policy Learning Collaborative

Throughout the rest of the convening, state teams heard from national experts and their peers on a variety of disability employment policy options to support their Governors’ goals. Speakers from North Carolina, Tennessee, and San Diego State University’s Interwork Institute discussed best practices for engaging young people with disabilities in “earn-and-learn” opportunities such as youth apprenticeship. Representatives from Ohio, Maryland, and a Georgia non-profit called Synergies Work discussed their efforts to support people with disabilities in becoming self-employed, including the Ohio EDGE program and the Maryland RISE program.

To conclude the first day of programming, public and private partners based in Albany discussed how they are working together to increase career opportunities for people with disabilities in their local community. Moderated by Governor Hochul’s Chief Disability Officer, Kim Hill Ridley, the conversation featured speakers from CVS Health, Our Ability Inc., and the New York State Department of Labor. The panel also featured the perspective of someone who received vocational rehabilitation services that eventually led them to a career in New York state government.

The convening included several roundtable opportunities for state teams to engage in peer learning and share lessons learned, and to discuss opportunities for cross-state collaboration. State participants also spent time with their individual teams to reflect on what they learned throughout the programming and determine how they could apply it to their state’s unique policy goals and agenda. The NGA Center will support state team efforts to maintain this momentum, providing technical assistance in the coming months to help them achieve their goals by the end of the Learning Collaborative and beyond.

For more information on the NGA Center’s work to support Governors in advancing disability inclusive workforce policy, please visit the project page or contact Jack Porter at