Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.
About The CSG Center of Innovation
The CSG Center of Innovation is a national initiative launched in July 2018 to enhance CSG’s efforts to engage, inform and empower state officials through externally funded initiatives. The center leverages CSG’s considerable convening power and its demonstrated success in providing outreach and technical assistance to the states to acquire external funding for projects focused on CSG member priorities. The CSG Center of Innovation provides a convenient and effective platform to collaborate with these valued partners and leverage those partnerships to secure funding for joint initiatives. Rather than a think tank, the CSG Center of Innovation is a practical resource for state officials in all three branches of government.
The State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED) is a unique state-federal initiative that promotes the adoption of disability-inclusive state policy through an innovative partnership model. This formal collaboration, launched by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), helps state and local governments develop and implement meaningful policies and practices that lead to increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and a stronger, more inclusive workforce and economy. As part of the SEED team, CSG works with ODEP, Concepts, Inc., and other partner organizations, such as the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and Women in Government (WIG), among others, to reduce barriers to employment for people with disabilities.
The SEED initiative conducts research on policies and programs that can improve employment for individuals with disabilities, provides states with customized technical assistance and policy development, and identifies new and innovative programs and policies through convenings of policymakers, subject matter experts, practitioners, and community and business leaders. Since its inception in 2015, SEED has engaged state legislators, governors’ offices and agency leadership from 46 states and DC to enact more than 90 new laws, develop and mobilize more than 250 state legislative and executive-level disability champions, and sign six executive orders, including the establishment of a cabinet-level statewide task force. You can learn more about SEED on the Office of Disability Employment Policy State Policy website.
Disability Employment Policy at CSG
The CSG disability employment policy team works with state policy makers, federal agencies, individuals with disabilities, leading non-profits think tanks, and research institutions to identify policies and practices that can improve the quality and quantity of employment and training opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In this effort, CSG provides policymakers with customized research and policy analysis, training, facilitation, and hands-on implementation and technical assistance on topics that can reduce barriers to employment and help states create more inclusive work forces. Examples of our key partner institutions include the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, Cornell University, the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the National Conference of State Legislatures among others. Disability employment policy projects include the State Exchange on Employment and Disability, ODEP’s Youth Policy Center, and KY’s Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN).
Elizabeth Whitehouse is the Chief Public Policy Officer at The Council of State Governments. Her work was instrumental in the Work Matters Task Force and has assisted legislators and governors with policy on workforce issues. Previously, she served as the Director of Education and Workforce Development at CSG. Prior to CSG she served in a number of roles within the Kentucky State Government, including the KY Department of Charitable Gaming, the Education and Workforce Cabinet, and the Office of the Governor.
Heather Shaffer currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Center of Innovation at The Council of State Governments. Heather helps ensure CSG’s portfolio of policy work meets and exceeds the expectations of our funders, partners, and member states. Since joining CSG in summer of 2019, she has worked closely with our workforce development initiatives and played an integral role in launching the Policy Center for Youth with Disabilities. She brings deep expertise helping public and private sector organizations align and achieve complex change. Prior to joining CSG, Heather served as a Director in KPMG’s public sector management consulting practice. Her projects spanned strategy development to program implementation and monitoring for large-scale public sector initiatives across the U.S. She specifically led work with multiple states to align stakeholders and develop and implement State Plans for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Heather is a graduate of the University of Florida.
Dina Klimkina is the Program Manager of the Disability Employment Policy Portfolio at The Council of State Governments. Dina manages CSG’s programming with the State Exchange on Employment and Disability, ODEP’s Youth Policy Center, and KY’s Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN). She also performs research and analysis, develops reports and presentations, and conducts outreach with stakeholders as needed. Prior to CSG, she worked at the University of Kentucky, One Earth Future Foundation, Center on Rights Development, and the United Nations, among other organizations.
Christina is a Senior Policy Analyst at The Council of State Governments. She collects, monitors and analyzes data on state legislative, executive and judicial actions relevant to program interests, conducts outreach to state officials, national organizations, researchers and national policy experts, develops and writes reports on SEED topic areas, and assists in the planning, organizing, and the convening of meetings. Christina comes to CSG from the Commonwealth of Kentucky Office of the State Budget Director where she worked as a Policy and Budget Analyst. Her previous role includes serving as a liaison within Executive Branch for agencies on budgetary, personnel, and legislative matters. Providing oversight in the development and implementation of enacted budgets and legislation including fiscal and policy analysis.
Sydney is a Policy Analyst at The Council of State Governments focusing on barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Sydney has experience in engaging state leaders to discuss policy issues and solutions in a bipartisan and innovative way. Throughout her career, she has researched and analyzed state level polices in a variety of policy areas. Sydney disseminates her research through blogs, articles, and online platforms. Prior to CSG, Sydney worked for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. She received a B.A. from the University of Louisville and an M.P.A from the University of Kentucky.
Trenton Patrick is a Research Associate at The Council of State Governments. Mr. Patrick has focused on underserved populations with disabilities and providing structural and administrative support for these populations. Mr. Patrick conducts regular outreach and relationship management with state officials to identify and support rising best practices and disability employment policy priorities. Prior to joining CSG, Trenton worked as an independent policy consultant and professional event coordinator in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Mr. Patrick has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kentucky.