LEND Trainee Morgan Turner headshot

Turner appointed to Kentucky Employment First Council by Governor Beshear

In 2020, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order to create the Kentucky Employment First Council, which helps people with disabilities find meaningful employment.

And now, one of our own will be helping out with that work.

Morgan Turner has accepted a position as Vice Chair on that council.

“The Kentucky Employment First Council helps get people with disabilities employed,” Turner said. “I was appointed by the Governor as someone with a disability to represent people with disabilities…attend and host the meetings if the chair isn’t there. I will serve on the executive committee.”

For Turner, this is a golden opportunity. Not only does it give him the chance to work for a cause he deeply values, but also allows him to serve as an example of what’s possible.

“I’m a person with a disability that’s employed and want to help other people with disabilities be employed,” Turner said. “[I want] to help people understand that individuals with disabilities can work and have a purpose and live a healthy life.”

And as someone who has lived that kind of healthy life himself, he’s well-equipped to help others find it. He plans to use his skills to be a leader and he’s looking forward to tackling his new responsibilities.

“[I am] excited about learning new things and how to be good vice chair.” he said.

Learn more about Employment First here.

Morgan Turner wearing a UK blue t-shirt in a gym. He is smiling at the camera and has short, black hair.

Morgan Turner leads presentation at the Dignity of Work International Forum

HDI Program Education Assistant, Morgan Turner, recently presented at the Dignity of Work International Forum sponsored by the Institute on Community Integration. In his presentation, Morgan’s Musings: My Successful Journey to Inclusive Employment in Higher Education, Morgan shared his experience as a person with a disability in finding, maintaining, and thriving in employment. Morgan was joined by co-presenters and HDI colleagues, Johnny Collett and Austin Nugent for a panel discussion about advocacy and strategies to improve employment and awareness.

As an Employment First state, Kentucky is committed to supporting competitive integrated employment as the first and primary option for our citizens with disabilities, regardless of their level of disability. As the state’s University Center of Excellence on Disabilities, the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) has served as a major thought leader regarding the lived experiences of people with disabilities for over 50 years and is committed to improving the inclusion, independence, opportunity and contribution of people with disabilities and their families throughout the lifespan.

Johnny Collett, HDI Deputy Director, says “Morgan’s knowledge, skills, values, dispositions, and experiences demonstrate what it means to live out the mission of the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute. Additionally, his achievements and leadership in supporting other people with disabilities to be successful exemplify the promise of Kentucky’s Employment First policy and what we envision for all Kentucky citizens with disabilities”.

Learn more about Morgan’s Musings or contact Morgan.Turner@uky.edu.

Young black man with Down syndrome clearing dishes at a restaurant.

Kentucky Employment First Council Establishes Sub-Committees

By Jeff White

Noted self-advocate Robert M. Hensel is frequently quoted as stating, “There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more.” This is quite an understatement considering that Mr. Hensel is the Guinness World Records holder for the longest non-stop wheelie in a wheelchair, covering a total distance of 6.178 miles.  Mr. Hensel exhibited abilities far beyond what could reasonably be expected.  Now, here in Kentucky, we have the opportunity to give others like Mr. Hensel the chance to prove what they can accomplish.  Sometimes, an opportunity is all that is needed. Continue reading

HB144 Employment Subcommittee

by Kellie McCain of the DD Council

Kentucky’s Commission on Services and Supports for Individuals with Intellectual and Other Developmental Disabilities (also known as HB 144 Commission) advises the Governor and General Assembly about the service system that impacts the lives of people with disabilities. A sub-committee of the HB 144 commission was established to address issues impacting employment for persons with developmental disabilities. Comprised of members representing state agencies, service providers, advocacy agencies, lawmakers and people with developmental disabilities, the committee has set out to identify what must occur to create an efficient employment system that is supportive of people with developmental disabilities obtaining meaningful employment in the Commonwealth. Continue reading

Governor Bevin signing Executive Order about Employment First, including Katie Wolf Whaley

Governor Issues Executive Order Making Employment for People with Disabilities a Top Priority in Kentucky

On May 15, 2018, Governor Matt Bevin signed Executive Order 2018-328 to add Kentucky to the growing list of states with Employment First policies for people with disabilities. This Order will ensure that competitive and integrated employment in the community shall be considered the first and primary option for persons with disabilities who want to become employed. This means that all state agencies will work toward making sure people with disabilities have opportunities to work in the community and offer valuable skills to their employers while receiving a competitive wage. Continue reading