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Colorado Office of Employment First

​JFK Partners is nationally recognized as the Colorado University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service program (UCEDD), a member of the larger National Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) network. The UCEDDs federal charge is to “facilitate the flow of disability related information between community and university working with people with disabilities, members of their families, state and local government agencies, and community providers in projects that provide training, technical assistance, service, research and information sharing, with a focus on building the capacity of communities to sustain all their citizens.” ( Since its inception in 1965, the mission of JFK Partners has been to promote the independence, inclusion, contribution, health, and well-being of people with developmental disabilities and special health care needs and their families through consumer, community and university partnerships. The mission is accomplished through the pursuit of excellence in education and training, consultation, technical assistance, direct service, research, program development, policy analysis, and advocacy. For over five decades, JFK Partners had demonstrated expertise and capacity to advance and sustain cross-disciplinary programs and services. Based on the alignment of values, leadership, and expertise JFK Partners has been chosen by the Colorado Employment First Advisory Partnership (created under Senate Bill 16-077) to house the new Colorado Office of Employment First.
The Colorado Office of Employment First will be a center of excellence and accountability for Employment First policies, practices and implementation. With its establishment, the state is now receiving technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and no-cost consultation from a network of national experts.

Position Announcement

announcement.jpgOn behalf of CU Department of Pediatrics (JFK Partners), the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Employment First Advisory Partnership we are pleased to announce selection of the Director of the Colorado Office of Employment First (COEF). We had a number of highly qualified applicants for the position. We are very pleased that Patricia Henke has accepted the position. Patricia started work in this position on November 1, 2019. 

Patricia Henke is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor with over 25 years of experience in the field of vocational rehabilitation. She has held positions as Job Coach, Vocational Evaluator/Counselor, Work Adjustment Instructor, Rehabilitation Supervisor, Director of Community and Employment Services and Supported Employment Program Manager at various private nonprofits and state government organizations.  Patricia has also worked as an Adjunct Instructor in the Rehabilitation Counselor Education Master's Program at Utah State University.
In the last 4 years, Patricia has provided leadership and expertise in the design and implementation of Employment First Initiatives and Supported Employment Evidenced Based & Promising Practices in Colorado such as Benefits Planning, Customized Employment and Individual Placement & Support Model.  Patricia collaborates effectively at state and national levels to facilitate new resources for Colorado to assist employment service providers, families, job seekers, state agency personnel and employers to realize Competitive Integrated Employment as a preferred and viable option for individuals with significant disabilities.  Patricia has served on the Employment First Advisory Partnership, Developmental Disability Planning Council, Behavioral Health Planning and Advisory Council and MINDSOURCE Advisory Council over the past 4 years.
Patricia completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from University of Louisiana at Lafayette and decided to enter the Master's Program in Rehabilitation Counseling Education when her family experienced a car accident. Patricia assisted her mother in identifying a new career where her disabilities were accommodated and she thrived for many years. Patricia brings great passion and commitment to the development of the Office of Employment First with the priority of building capacity in Colorado that creates an inclusive culture of Competitive Integrated Employment for all.

One of Patricia’s first tasks will be that of taking the lead on selection of remaining members of the COEF team. The Analyst/grant writer position has been offered. Interviews have begun for the Curriculum Developer/Trainer position but that position announcement remains open. 

We want to take this opportunity to remind you that the Scope of Work for the interagency agreement between DVR/CPLE and JFK/CU SOM is available at Colorado Office of Employment First webpage. The Strategic Plan and progress of the employment first advisory partnership may be found on the COEF website too. 

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