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RETAIN Kentucky Partners With UK to Expand Service Area

When individuals leave the labor force because they become sick or have a non-work-related injury, it can be detrimental for them, their families, employers and the economy. Workers experience adverse effects on their health, family finances and quality of life. Employers lose valuable talent, productivity and incur the expense of recruiting and retraining staff. Research shows that many of these injured or ill workers could remain in their jobs or the workforce with timely and effective help.

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) and committed project partners are bringing return to work and stay at work early intervention strategies to faculty, staff and student employees at UK. This collaborative effort, RETAIN Kentucky, supports employees who have had a non-work-related injury or illness that puts them at risk of leaving the workforce. These services enhance and build upon on the comprehensive health and wellness program provided to university employees and support a diverse and inclusive workforce.

 “We know all too well that injuries and illnesses can change a person’s life in an instant. RETAIN Kentucky lets us highlight proven strategies that can help keep people working,” says Kathy Sheppard-Jones, principal investigator for UK’s RETAIN program and executive director of the HDI. “The resources of RETAIN can help support UK employees and keep our flagship forging ahead at full power.”

Kim Wilson, vice president and chief human resources officer for UK agrees. “We are excited to partner on the RETAIN initiative, which will benefit both injured and ill workers in our community as well as our institution. We’re grateful to have HDI within our UK community.”

RETAIN Kentucky coordinators provide support and assistance including resource referral and health care navigation, community referral services to support basic needs, vocational counseling, assistive technology assessments and peer support. Services can be delivered face-to-face or remotely through telephone and virtual meetings.

If you are an employee who may benefit from these services or a health care provider who wants to help your patients, call 859-562-3251 or email RETAIN@uky.edu

RETAIN Kentucky services are also available for employers throughout Central Kentucky. Employers who are interested in learning additional strategies that build an inclusive and diverse workforce can call Shirley Kron, RETAIN Kentucky director of outreach and engagement, at 502-541-5314 or email Shirley.Kron@uky.edu.

RETAIN Kentucky is funded by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy in the amount of $3.5 million under Cooperative Agreement No. OD-32548-18-75-4-21. This document does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

Jason Jones Staff Photo

HDI staff receive the Tom Gravitt Advocacy Award

Jason Jones, Disability Specialist, and Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director, have received the 2020 Tom Gravitt Advocacy Award from the Kentucky Congress on Spinal Cord Injury (SCI).

This award recognizes individuals who have had an exemplary impact on the SCI community and the disability community at large. These individuals enrich the lives of people with disabilities by being an advocate who fosters respect, access, and equal opportunities for all.

The award is named after Tom Gravitt, who obtained a SCI in his early twenties and fought tirelessly for almost 50 years as an advocate for all people with disabilities. This year’s recipients join previous Tom Gravitt Advocacy Award winners including Beth Bryant (2016), David Allgood (2017), Richard Moloney (2018), and Sasha Rabchevsky (2019).

Healthy and Connected: An important message from the UK Human Development Institute

Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Executive Director of the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI), shares an important and timely message with Kentuckians. This short video message includes reminders about landmark civil rights laws and protections in our country, as well as information about resources and services that can help people with disabilities stay safe, healthy, and connected during this uncertain time. #TeamKentucky

Click here to view the UK HDI Message 3-30-20.

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50th Anniversary Spotlight on Kathy Sheppard-Jones

HDI expertise is found throughout the counties of Kentucky. I am proud of our strong network, and of our ability to find common threads upon which to build even stronger coalitions.

Kathy Sheppard-Jones – Executive Director

How did you come to know HDI?
I had just graduated from UK and was looking for a job. I got hired on as a STEPS employees on the Kentucky Employment Initiative. It was in the final month of grant funding.

How long have you been at HDI and what is your role?
I have been at HDI for over 20 years in a variety of roles. I’ve been fortunate to work for and learn from Barney Fleming, John Hancock, Carolyn Wheeler, and Harold Kleinert. I have worked across projects that emphasized – agriculture, assistive technology, universal design, health and wellness, preservice training, quality of life, driver rehabilitation, and return to work. I’ve been the Community Education Director, Adult Services Director, and Training Director. Now I am fortunate to be the Executive Director.

During your time at HDI, of which accomplishments are you most proud?
I’m proud to have played a small part in Employment First in Kentucky, and so proud that many HDIers are leading the way in helping to fulfill the promise of Employment First. I’m proud to have coordinated efforts to bring the Certificate in Universal Design to the University of Kentucky. But even more so, I’m proud to be part of an organization that means a great deal to the Commonwealth. I’m proud to highlight the accomplishments of our staff and proud that the HDI is considered a good partner that builds inclusive communities.

Do you have any advice for current and future staff and students at HDI?
Bring the best of yourself to the work that you do. Dream big. Work hard. Do good. Be kind. Book now for the HDI 100th anniversary gala.

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UK Human Development Institute celebrates at 50th Anniversary Gala

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) hosted its 50th anniversary Gala at the Gatton Student Center on Saturday, November 4, 2019. This momentous occasion brought together nearly 200 current and former staff, students, families, and community partners to celebrate the achievements of HDI’s mission to promote the inclusion, independence, and contributions of people with disabilities and their families throughout the lifespan.
On behalf of HDI, Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones welcomed special guest speakers that included UK Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. David Blackwell, UK Vice-President for Research, Dr. Lisa Cassis, former Executive Director of HDI, Dr. Harold Kleinert, and Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Andy Imparato, JD. Imparato said, “HDI has been a force for change in Kentucky and across the country for the past 50 years. Under Kathy’s leadership, HDI is poised to change the world with and for people with disabilities moving into the future”. Continue reading