Our Center has the support of three university programs to assist us with piloting and incorporating a curriculum on the evidence-based practices of self-employment, business ownership, and telecommuting. These include Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Department of Rehabilitation Counseling, the Rehabilitation Counseling Program at University of Wisconsin Madison; and the Rehabilitation Counseling Program at the University of Kentucky.

According to the US News and World Report, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is ranked the #1 Rehabilitation Counseling program in the United States. VCU’s Department of Rehabilitation Counseling is ranked #4 and the University of Kentucky is #9. GHA will collaborate with other universities to adopt the curriculum in addition to the three identified for this proposal.

The Harkin Institute has indicated that it will support this proposal by conducting a review of policy on self-employment, business ownership, and telecommuting in State VR Agencies. The Harkin Institute, founded by Senator Tom Harkin, offers “non-partisan, unbiased, and socially diverse” policy analysis on employment and people with disabilities. The Harkin Institute will dedicate staff to work with the proposed center to review state VR policy.

Virginia Commonwealth University Logo

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University's Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (VCU-RRTC) is nationally recognized for its research, training, and technical assistance on employment for people with disabilities. GHA is contracting with VCU to provide instructional technology support to the Center for delivering the curriculum on self-employment, business ownership, and telecommuting.

VCU-RRTC has conducted focus groups with Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors as well as a national needs assessment on the training needs of VR Counselors. Finally, VCU-RRTC is assisting with the development of briefs on self-employment, business ownership, and telecommuting that will be disseminated through the Center's website.

Joseph Jones II

Joseph L. Jones II, MPA - The Harkin Institute

Joseph Jones serves as Executive Director for The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. Before joining The Harkin Institute, Joseph was Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy for the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Prior to that position, Joseph served as a Legislative Assistant to Senator Harkin in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Joseph served as Director of Governmental Affairs for the Iowa Finance Authority; and was the Senior Communications Specialist for Governor Tom Vilsack’s administration. Before that, he was the Chief of Staff and Education Director for Creative Visions Human Development Institute, a non-profit organization targeting at-risk youth in Central Iowa.

Joseph is a graduate of the United States Military Academy Preparatory School and earned his BBA in economics from Loyola University New Orleans. He earned a Master of Public Administration degree in public policy and a Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership and Administration from Drake University. Currently, Joseph is a doctoral candidate at Drake University, pursuing a Ph.D. focused on civic literacy. In 2018, he was the Executive in Residence at the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health and also serves on the faculty of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Institute of Organizational Management.

Amy Bentley

Amy Bentley, MPP - The Harkin Institute

Amy Bentley serves as the Policy Director for The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University. In this role she oversees and engages on all public policy in which the Institute engages. This includes direct management of all research areas, the policy team, policy-related events, and research fellows.

Amy leads The Harkin Institute in engaging in four primary policy areas: people with disabilities, labor and employment, retirement security, and wellness and nutrition. Immediately prior to joining the Institute she worked as an executive officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources focusing on water quality issues. She has also worked in various roles in the non-profit sector and on political campaigns. Amy holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Northern Iowa and a Bachelor’s in Law, Politics, and Society from Drake University.