Read our latest Annual Report!

Download the report

The report is written in plain language and can be a great tool to build conversations around Employment First.

Questions the report answers:

-Why is ensuring employment for all, important?
-What does the 2019 American Community Survey say about employment data?
– What 11 Florida agencies are working together on Employment First?
-What are their goals?
-What have they accomplished?

Share this report with people you support, family members and colleagues. Discuss what you can do to support these efforts!  It takes all of us to make a difference.

Contact Jennifer at Jennifer.bose@umb for more information about the report.

Lesly Quintanilla Lopez: The Impact of Work on Benefits (October 2021)

The Impact of Work on Benefits: Worried about losing public benefits? Competitive employment IS an option! Benefits Planning & Work Incentives: Busting Barriers to Employment  

Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 3-4pm ET.

Guest speaker: Lesly Quintanilla Lopez is the executive director for The Keys Advocacy Center, Center for Independent Living where she is responsible for a multi-county, community-based project from SSA and for the Independent Living program covering the Florida Keys.  As an advocate for people with disabilities and the elderly for the last 14 years, her skills and areas of expertise include advocacy, disability issues, and health insurance specifically Medicare.

 Lesly enjoys serving and contributing to her community and she is currently involved with:

  • The Alliance for Aging, as part of the Board of Directors, and volunteering for the SHINE program as an Area Coordinator for Monroe County since 2009 and
  • The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) educating Medicare beneficiaries in how to prevent fraud to Medicare since Feb 2014
  • Disability Independent Group (DIG) as a newsletter contributor since April 2014

The American Red Cross Greater Miami and the Keys Chapter as a Community Volunteer Leader.  In this volunteer role, she serves as an ambassador for the Red Cross in Monroe County.  She also sits on the Red Cross South Florida Disability Integration Team since May 2019.  This year, 2021, Lesly was named the Disaster Cycle Services Preparedness Volunteer of the Year!

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Lesly was awarded The Golden Choices Volunteer of the year recognition from the Department of Elders Affairs State of Florida some years back for her volunteer services to SHINE program from the Alliance for Aging.  Some of her hobbies and special interests include spending time with her family, reading and being involved in serving her community.   Lesly has been happily married for the last 28 years and lives in Homestead, which is a 45-minutes ride from the beautiful Florida Keys where she works.

Learn more about past and upcoming presentations.

Join us July 20 at 3pm to learn about the benefits of Project SEARCH!

Project SEARCH is a proven school to work transition program where youth experience a combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training at a local business. Building a successful program takes commitment, teamwork and problem solving. One reason Project SEARCH works? Workplace immersion. What is this? And how does it help students? What should you do at the local level? Join us and learn more! 

What: Project SEARCH in Florida: Transitioning to Work 
When: Tuesday, July 20, 2021, 3-4pm ET 
Register now! 

Patti Langford, ESE transition specialist, Nassau County School District 
Donna Thompson, VR employment specialist, Nassau County School District 

Men shaking hands

Nominate a self-advocate! Deadline 2/26

2021 Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award
The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council is collecting nominations for the Idelio Valdes Award! The Idelio Valdes Award was created in honor of self-advocate Idelio Valdes, who had a tremendous impact on the people around him and the community in which he lived and worked. This award program is facilitated by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council annually year during Developmental Disabilties Awareness Day to recognize those who are committed to advocating for themselves and others with developmental disabilities. The submission deadline is Feb. 26, 2021 – 5 p.m. ET. Visit for all the details on who, how, what!!/awards You can also find out more information on the 2021 Virtual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day (DD Day) set for Tuesday, March 30 at!/up

Virtual DD Day is March 30!!

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) is thrilled to announce that the 2021 Virtual Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day (DD Day) is set for Tuesday, March 30! Join them as we make our voices heard in support of Floridians with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their family members and our dedicated caregivers.
Continue reading “Virtual DD Day is March 30!!”

Employment First Florida Employment Empowerment Toolkit!


Since 2015, Employment First Florida local collaborative sites have been on the cutting edge of creating solutions to help people with disabilities get the help they need to work. To further support local communities in Florida to prioritize employment for individuals with disabilities, the Institute for Community Inclusion has developed the Employment Empowerment Toolkit. The toolkit is designed to support job seekers, families, teachers, case managers, employment staff, and other direct support staff to make employment the first option for all Floridians with disabilities.

Continue reading “Employment First Florida Employment Empowerment Toolkit!”
Woman with Mask

Check out the ICI’s self-advocate webinar on May 8

The Institute for Community Inclusion, in partnership with self-advocates in New York and Massachusetts, is hosting a webinar this Friday, May 8th at 3pm ET entitled Our Stories: Young Adults, Work, and Personal Experience During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Join them to hear self-advocates’ stories about the impact social distancing and technology has had on their work, and other parts of their lives, such as staying in touch with family, friends, and support staff. Each of the presenters work on a research project that focuses on transition practices.   Register online for this event!

For more information, please email: