Skip to main content

LEAD PEOPLE Lisa Mills, Ph.D., Subject Matter Expert, Integrated Employment

March 30, 2014

Lisa Mills is currently working as a consultant to 13 states on various strategies for expanding integrated, competitive employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In addition to acting as a subject matter expert (SME) for the LEAD Center, she is also a SME for the ODEP-funded Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP). Mills has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for 25 years. Her work on integrated employment spans the last 12 years, beginning with grassroots efforts as part of her role supporting the People First self-advocacy movement. Over the past nine years, she has worked extensively with state Medicaid and vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies on a broad range of systems change strategies to support the expansion of integrated competitive employment for youth and adults with disabilities.

In 2002, Mills developed one of the first truly self-directed career planning processes for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. In 2006, Mills authored a widely read report, entitled Revitalizing Integrated Employment, which documented nationwide best and emerging practices to support increased participation by people with intellectual/developmental disabilities in integrated employment. From 2007-2008, she was lead staff to one state Medicaid agency’s broad-based taskforce on integrated employment, which led her to managing more than $1 million in systems change funding to implement a variety of innovative best practices that included a community rehabilitation program (CRP) organizational change initiative; an employment outcomes data system; a performance-based supported employment reimbursement model; and the first national example of successfully embedding Customized Employment services in the state VR and Medicaid long-term care systems. From 2009-2010, Mills was primary author of one state’s rewrite of its home and community-based services (HCBS) waiver employment service definitions. Her development of a revised definition of prevocational services informed the changes made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in its information bulletin on employment released in September 2011. 

Currently, Mills is a Ruderman Fellow and Senior Technical Advisor to the Coalition to Promote Self-Determination.  She is also a board member and public policy chair for TASH.  Mills believes passionately in respecting individuals with disabilities by having high expectations of the contributions they can make to our society. In the words of Nelson Mandela she quotes, “there is no passion in playing small…in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”