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Federal Hiring: Career Civil Servants with Disabilities

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  • Are you a person with a disability?
  • Do you want to consider a career in the federal government but don’t know where to start?
  • Do you know about Schedule A?

If any of these questions resonate with you, or if you know someone else who might benefit, watch this webinar today!

The president-elect has addressed the importance of hiring people with disabilities. It is prime time for you to merge your lived experience with your professional expertise and aspirations, just like anyone else. This webinar should help guide you through the process.

RespectAbility is proud to be virtually gathering with panelists from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP); the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disability Resource Center (DRC); the Equal Opportunity Policy Office of the Department of the Air Force; and RespectAbility’s vice-chair of its board who is a career civil servant and blind. Learn the need-to-know facts of applying for a career position in the federal government as a professional with a disability.


Louis Orslene headshotModerator: Louis Orslene, MPIA, MSW, serves the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, as the Director for the Employer and Workplace Policy Team. The Employer Team examines the policy issues and barriers facing employers as they seek to recruit, hire, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities in the workplace. The Team fulfills its mission by encouraging adoption and implementation of disability employment policies and practices that meet the needs of private and public employers and individuals with disabilities.

Prior to joining ODEP, Orslene served as a Disability Policy Advisor supporting the Department of Defense Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He has also served as the Co-Director of the Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network (JAN). He has extensive knowledge of workplace accommodations, Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended in 2008 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Lou has more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing disability-related public sector initiatives and 15 years of experience providing customized training to private industry, public agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Orslene graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with Master’s degrees in Public and International Affairs and Social Work. He also holds a certification in Disability Management as well as a certificate in Managing Public and Non-profit Organizations. He holds an undergraduate degree in Human Resource Management.

Orslene’s presentations are informed by 25 years in the field of disability employment and through collaborations with groups such as the Disability:IN, Disability Management Employers Coalition, Society of Human Resource Management, National Business and Disability Council, Assistive Technology Industry Association, and the American Association of People with Disabilities, among others.

Orslene is committed to increasing the employability of individuals with disabilities. This commitment is continuously deepened through the exploration of the nexus between the needs of employers and abilities of individuals with disabilities.

Alison Levy headshotKeynote: Alison Levy is the manager of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Disability Resource Center (DRC).  The DRC is a centrally funded office that supports internal supervisors and employees in creating an accessible and inclusive workplace through recruitment, outreach, education, and reasonable accommodations.

Previously, Levy served at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), providing leadership over the recruitment, hiring, advancement and retention of individuals with disabilities, including reasonable accommodations.  She developed and implemented policies, procedures, strategic plans, and facilitated programs through a diverse team of more than 50 contacts across USDA’s 34 mission areas, agencies, and staff offices. Her efforts with a team of diversity and inclusion colleagues yielded USDA’s six-level rise in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to #2 for Large Federal Agencies in Diversity Support.

Levy was one of the founding leaders of the Federal Disability Workforce Consortium (FDWC), a volunteer, interagency organization that grew from 20 to more than 900 Federal points of contact with monthly webinars, meetings, and collaborations with the Office of Personnel Management, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

As a person with disabilities, and with over 30 years of experience in the disability profession, Levy has worked toward improving workplace attitudes and in providing equal opportunity in the post-secondary, public, and private sectors.  Alison earned her B.A. in Public Communication from The American University, and her Masters in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University. She is fluent in American Sign Language.

Ollie Cantos smiling in front of an American flagOllie Cantos, Esq., has been active in the civil rights arena since 1990.  He is Special Assistant to the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education and Member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID).  He is also Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Scholarships for Eagles, Board Member of the Virginia Organization of Parents of Blind Children, Attorney Mentor for the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights, and Member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.  Past positions include Staff Attorney and Director of Outreach and Education at the Disability Rights Legal Center, General Counsel and Director of Programs at the American Association of People with Disabilities, Special Assistant and later Special Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, and Associate Director for Domestic Policy at the White House under President George W. Bush. Prior leadership posts include Vice Chair of PCPID, Legal Officer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Vice President of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, President of the California Association of Blind Students and the National Association of Blind Students, and member of the boards of directors of the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, the Blind Children’s Center, the Disability Community Resource Center, Community Lodgings, the California Association to Promote the Use of Braille, and the National Federation of the Blind of California.

But Ollie is most grateful for his adoption of three blind triplet boys – Leo, Nick, and Steven.  Their compelling story has been told by National Public Radio, PEOPLE Magazine, The Washingtonian Magazine, USA Today, and videos that went viral on,, and others. In addition to local media coverage, they were featured as Persons of the Week on ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir In December 2017 for attaining the coveted rank of Eagle Scout as part of Boy Scouts of America. Their story has now reached a grand total of more than 53 million views.

Kendra Duckworth Shock headshotKendra Duckworth Shock assumed her position with the Equal Opportunity Policy Office, Department of the Air Force, as the Disability Program Manager in 2012 and was named Deputy Director in January of 2014.  She comes to the Air Force from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) where she served as the Disability Program Manager from 2009 to 2012.

Since becoming the Disability Program Manager, the Department of the Air Force has been awarded The Secretary of Defense’s Award for Achievement in Employment of Individuals with Disabilities seven out of the last nine years. The award honors DoD Components for outstanding achievement in the hiring, retention, and advancement of individuals with disabilities.

Ms. Duckworth Shock’s career includes 18 years serving as a Lead Consultant for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy Job Accommodation Network located on the campus of West Virginia University.

Ms. Duckworth Shock has over 30 years of experience providing accommodation guidance to employers and individuals with disabilities.

Meet the Author

Debbie Fink

Debbie Fink was the Director of Community Outreach & Impact for RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities.

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