National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Alison Barkoff

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This is the first in a series of podcasts in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). TASH’s interim Executive Director, Serena Lowe talks with Alison Barkoff, the Director of Advocacy, Center for Public Representation. They have a wide-ranging discussion of employment policy and programs for people with disabilities, but Alison remains rooted throughout in her experience as a sibling to her brother with disabilities, Evan.

Season 4, Episode 2 — 14 October 2020

About the presenters

A photograph of Alison Barkoff. She has short, dark, curly hair, bright eyes and a crooked smile. She is wearing a dark blazer and a necklace and is against a neutral photographer's background.Alison Barkoff is the Director of Advocacy at the Center for Public Representation in Washington, D.C. She works on policy and litigation related to community integration and inclusion of people with disabilities, including Olmstead enforcement, Medicaid policy, employment, education and housing. She serves as a co-chair of the Long Term Services and Supports Task Force of the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities and is the policy advisor to the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination. She leads the HCBS Advocacy Coalition and the Coalition to Advance Competitive Integrated Employment. Ms. Barkoff also served as an appointed member of the federal Advisory Committee for Competitive Integrated Employment of People with Disabilities. From 2010 to 2014, she served as Special Counsel for Olmstead Enforcement in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. In that position, she led the Division’s efforts to enforce the right of individuals with disabilities to live, work and receive services in the community. During her time with the federal government, Ms. Barkoff also worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on finalizing rules governing Medicaid-funded community-based services and with the Department of Labor on implementation of new fair wage rules in Medicaid-funded disability service systems. She has previously worked at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and at a number of other public interest organizations on Olmstead enforcement, disability discrimination, Medicaid, employment, and special education cases. She has an adult brother with an intellectual disability and has been involved in disability advocacy most of her life. She speaks nationally and publishes articles on disability and civil rights issues.

An official federal government portrait of Serena Lowe. She has blond, shoulder-length hair and a big smile. She is wearing a black blazer and a bit of a U.S. flag can be seen over her right shoulder.Serena Lowe is the founder and prime consultant at AnereS Strategies LLC and is currently serving as the Interim Executive Director of TASH. She has spent the past 23 years focused on public policies aimed at improving the wellbeing of low-income working families, individuals with disabilities, seniors, children, immigrants, refugees and populations with multiple barriers to the economic mainstream. For the past eight years, Serena has served as a Senior Policy Advisor focused on disability rights at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), and more recently at the Administration for Community Living within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Prior to ACL, Serena worked in a variety of roles in the field of federal government relations, working for the U.S. Department of Labor, a Fortune 100 global biopharmaceutical company, a top 20 national lobbying firm, and two former Members of Congress. She is a past Executive Director of the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (CPSD).

Serena holds a B.A. in International & Public Affairs from Westminster College, a joint-graduate degree (M.P.H. in International Health Policy and M.A. in International Development Policy) from George Washington University, and a PhD in Public Administration from American University.


Complete transcript forthcoming

This interview was originally recorded on 6 October 2020.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

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