Disability Rights & Employment Awareness Month (DREAM) Symposium

08:00 am
05:00 pm
Empire State Plaza Concourse 100 S Mall Arterial Albany, NY 12242

At the 2nd annual DREAM Symposium, we acknowledge the rights that people with disabilities are entitled to; celebrate the extreme value that disabled New Yorkers bring to the workforce; assist in matching prospective qualified candidates with employers; and a great deal more!

Schedule of Events

10:00-3:00 PM
Vendor Fair

10:00-5:00 PM
Disability History Exhibit

  • In War Room in the Capitol for all of October

9:30-11:00 AM

Opening Ceremony

  • Brief Intro by Kim Hill Ridley
  • Commissioners
  • DREAM 2023 Advocate of the Year Award
  • DREAM 2023 Lifetime Advocacy Award

Meeting Room 6
Watch Opening Ceremony Recording

11:00-11:30 AM
Special Olympics Bocce Demonstration
Demos will continue throughout the day

11:00-3:00 PM
Job Fair & Onsite Interviews

11:00-3:00 PM
Mock Interviews
Meeting Room 5

11:30-12:15 PM

Workshop 1 – An Update on New York State’s Civil Service 55 B Program & the Importance of Self Disclosure


  • Jason Parrish – Deputy Director
  • LaShanna King – Team Leader/Diversity and Inclusion Specialist 3
  • Nichole Harden – Diversity and Inclusion Specialist 2

Meeting Room 6
Watch Workshop 1 Recording

11:30-12:15 PM

Workshop 2 – The Partnership for Inclusive Internships: Expanding Work Opportunities in Government for People with Disabilities


  • Jennifer Shaoul, Executive Director of Disability Affairs, NYC Department of Social Services
  • Hannah Millson, Coordinator, The Partnership for Inclusive Internships at AHRC New York City
  • Michele Shapiro, Assistant Director of Employment and Business Services, AHRC New York City

Watch Workshop 2 Recording

12:15-1:30 PM

1:00-1:30 PM
Viewing – “The Path Forward – Remembering Willowbrook” Documentary
Meeting Rooms 3 & 4 & 6

1:45-2:30 PM

Workshop 3 – OPWDD’s Employment Services – A Year in Review


  • Alexis Harrington, Associate Commissioner – Program Implementation and Service Access, Regional Offices
  • Kristine Snyder, Statewide Employment and Vocational Services Coordinator, Employment and Meaningful Community Activities (EMCA) Unit Service Access, Program Implementation and Stakeholder Support

Meeting Room 6
Watch Workshop 3 Recording

1:45-2:30 PM

Workshop 4 – Facts vs. Myths about Benefits/Benefits Counseling


  • Lisa Brown, NYESS Program Specialist and Certified Benefits Advisor

Meeting Room 3 & 4
Watch Workshop 4 Recording

2:45-3:30 PM

Workshop 5– Resume/Interview Prep Techniques


  • Cathleen Santonastaso, Senior Employment Counselor

Meeting Room 3 & 4
Watch Workshop 5 Recording

2:45-3:30 PM

Workshop 6 – The A in DEIA: Embedding Accessibility in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives


  • Angelica Kang, Chief Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Officer, New York State Office of Children and Family Services
  • Dr. Hirah Mir, Chief Diversity Officer, New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities
  • Carmelita Cruz, Executive Equity Officer, New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports
  • Ben Thapa, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Chief Disability Officers

Meeting Room 6
Watch Workshop 6 Recording