DuPont, WA – Strong partnerships between state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies and businesses mean better job opportunities. That’ll be a key theme at Alliance Enterprises’ getAwareLive! conference July 25-26 in Atlanta, which is dedicated to improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Janet LaBreck, former commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), will kick off the conference with a keynote focused on ways VR agencies can build stronger relationships with businesses in their states. The RSA is the federal agency that awards grants to state VR agencies around the country. In 2017, RSA authorized grants to state VR agencies totaling more than $3.3 billion.

As RSA Commissioner, LaBreck helped implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) after it was signed into law in 2014. The landmark legislation was “designed to strengthen and improve our nation’s public workforce system and help get Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers and help employers hire and retain skilled workers.”

“Bringing business and vocational rehabilitation closer together was a key intent of the WIOA,” LaBreck said. “In the past few years we’ve had some successes, but we collectively need to do a much better job of developing innovative partnerships that will better serve the 60 million Americans with disabilities.”

LaBreck’s keynote will focus on practical steps state agencies can take to actively develop business relationships, to integrate job feeds into their case management systems, to make better use of local labor market data, and to develop analytics that show return on investment. She currently works as a business consultant and is co-founder of Synergy Consulting Partners.

“At this year’s getAwareLive! conference we’re focused on bringing leaders from the vocational rehabilitation, workforce, technology, and business sectors to work on solutions that will improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” said Chris M. Pieper, CEO at Alliance Enterprises. Alliance’s Aware software is used by 39 state vocational rehabilitation agencies, 24 tribal nations, and more than 12,000 VR professionals around the country.

“Janet brings unique perspectives and innovative approaches that have demonstrated successful partnerships between vocational rehabilitation and businesses,” Pieper added. “Ultimately, if we can help facilitate better business relationships between our state agency customers and employers in their area it will lead to better opportunities.”

Strong business relations will also be a key theme of Senator Tom Harkin’s keynote at the conference. The annual Harkin Summit addresses global disability employment challenges and opportunities. Additionally, former Walgreens executive, Randy Lewis, will share his personal story about pioneering a highly successful disability employment program at Walgreens that’s been replicated by some of the biggest companies in the country.

Further on the conference’s business theme, the National Association of Workforce Agencies (NASWA) will participate in a breakout session titled Partnering with Labor: A Blossoming New Relationship. And the National Labor Exchange (NLx), one of the nation’s leading job board feeds, will showcase new job search capabilities.

Another breakout session will focus on the latest data and analytics, 21st Century Labor Market Research, a panel discussion around new labor market research tools that can be used to increase positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

For more about the getAwareLive! conference, go to