A Conversation on the Impacts of the Pandemic While Living with a Disability

There are many different types of disabilities: physical and mental, invisible and visible, temporary and permanent. The pandemic has had a unique impact on the lives of people with all types of disabilities, bringing joy, relief, and difficulty. In honor of Disability Awareness Month, King County employees are invited to join the Disability Awareness Committee, Balanced You, and the Employee Assistance Program in a live, virtual conversation on the impacts of the pandemic while living with a disability.

This conversation will feature employees with disabilities who will share their experiences and stories of living and adapting through 2020, alongside employees from Disability Services who will share resources available to support employees with disabilities. All King County employees are welcome to attend.

This free event takes place Thursday, Oct. 29, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. To register, click here. If you have questions about this opportunity, please email jachristensen@kingcounty.gov.

Please take a moment to get to know our panelists below

Rob Abbott

Rob is a D/deaf employee working as an Employee and Labor Relations Representative for the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Wastewater Treatment Division.  His background includes 40 years of work in domestic and international human resources, labor relations and direct consulting, developing new start-up business units and managing mergers and acquisition for client companies.  He earned his Masters of Business Management degree in 1993.  He has served on several local, state and national level D/deaf and Hard of Hearing Association Boards, was on the Board that originated Spokane Community College’s first Certified Interpreter Training program, worked with the State of Oregon’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, as a contracted disabled employee Advocate and to prepare DVR Clients for re-entry into the workforce.  In the recent past, he served as an advisor to the Department of Justice concerning various matters related to disabled populations, including recommending and influencing police procedures and training to ensure the civil rights of D/deaf and Hard of Hearing populations. 

Rob and his wife Sherry enjoy many interests and hobbies including prospecting, gemology, gallery quality wood and gemstone carving, and COVID-19 related social distancing… by Harley.    

Michele Appell

Michele Appell grew up in Oregon, graduated from Corvallis High School, and attended the Oregon State University Transition Program. She moved to Washington State in 1996.  Michele has been working in different administrative roles for the last 24 years at various companies from Attachmate, AT&T, Starbucks, Children’s Hospital, and SME. Currently, Michele works for Department of Community and Human Services in the Behavioral Health Division providing administrative support through the Supported Employment Program for the last two years. Michele also works for Service Opportunities by and for Disabled Adults (SODA), editing and compiling newsletters to the disability community monthly. She is active in various activities such as courses/classes at the Highland Center, Action Club, and her church community. She enjoys reading, puzzle books, organizing, walking, and spending time with her family, friends and her new kitten. Michele has been happily married for 25 years and looks forward to doing a big celebration after COVID-19 on a cruise.

Joseph Conniff

Joseph Conniff (he/him) is a post 9/11 Navy veteran and person in long term recovery from a substance use disorder. He is a 2016 alumni of King County Drug Diversion Court, a program he credits with saving his life from homelessness and addiction on the streets of Seattle.  Six months after completing the program, he became employed in a contract position with Therapeutic Health Services as the Drug Court Resource Specialist, providing peer counseling/recovery coaching and connecting program participants to services in the community ranging from Medicaid enrollment, attaining employment and educational goals, to assistance in obtaining identification/relicensing and recovery support services.

In February of 2020, Joseph was hired by King County (DJA) to fill the same role in the same role as it officially transitioned away from the contracted position. Shortly after the onset of COVID-19, the typical daily interactions with clients at the courthouse became extremely limited and Joseph began facilitating daily Zoom support meetings in an effort to bring participants together and offset the social isolation participants began to experience as in-person support meetings and treatment were put on hold.

Outside of his work with King County Drug Diversion Court, Joseph spends time with his spouse and daughter, maintaining his own recovery through yoga and meditation practice, teaching mindfulness, and working with community-centered programs helping others achieve recovery and/or exit the criminal legal system.

Megan Jourdan

As a Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD survivor, Megan Jourdan (she/her) is passionate professionally and personally about disability in the workplace. In her 13 years in public health and wellness, Megan has served at multiple levels and on multiple campaigns in governmental and non-profit organizations. Megan entered the workforce in 2007, as a Case Manager for a non-profit that connected people without insurance to medical providers. She then completed eight years with the Florida Department of Health, beginning as a Youth Educator and finishing as Director of Public Health Practice and Policy. In 2016, Megan moved to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, as the Director of Community Health Promotion. In 2019, Megan returned to her roots in local government and now serves as Project Manager for King County’s Balanced You team, where she advances employee well-being programs and strategies and advocates for intersectional approaches to anti-ableism and disability inclusion.

Mary Norman

Mary Norman (she/her) joined King County Employee Assistance Program (EAP) almost two months ago on August 31. She comes to the Pacific Northwest via California, Missouri, Hawaii, and New York. She spent the past year in New York where she has a daughter only to discover she was not an Atlantic coast person. She most recently provided EAP services for employers and employees throughout the state of Hawaii. With a daughter and sister in Seattle, she already loves the area and is especially excited about truly fresh seafood!

Lili Stansberry

Lili Stansberry, She/Her Pronouns, is with King County Career Support Services.  Lili has been with King County for 13 years as a Senior Human Resources Analyst.  She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management.  With experience navigating as a person with a disability, Lili is dedicated to helping employees and departments.

Personally, Lili enjoys sports, having ran five marathons, two being the Boston Marathon, and is now training for a triathlon.

Lena Williams

Lena Williams has worked in the field of Disability Management for more than 30 years. She holds a Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and is a certified rehabilitation counselor. She has provided disability management services in both public and private sector.

In her current position at Metro Transit, she is part of a team that addresses the needs of employees, who, due to medical conditions or injuries, are temporarily or permanently unable to perform their job.  Transit Disability Services works with employees, their health care provider, and manager to map out a plan aimed at return to work.

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