Season 4 | Episode 8

Apple Podcasts Badge Nonprofit on the Rocks    spotify podcast nonprofit on the rocks

"The boat represents a journey. And usually a journey is work, so they’re rowing. And you’ll notice the two people in the boat are sitting side by side.  Because the journey is something we are all on together. And if you’re doing your job well, you won’t know who is supporting who." 

Matt talks to Edward Amey, CEO of Jay Nolan Community Services, an organization that supports children and adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

The pair discuss the mutually beneficial value of hiring adults with disabilities; what it takes to be the CEO of a nonprofit; the importance of having a supportive life partner; and why it took Matt getting chewed out by a client with a disability to realize, “Hey! They really ARE just like us!” 


We are in this country looking for workers. Every place is, has signs out for workers, right?  So within the IDD (Intellectual Developmental Disability) community--folks who can work, who are willing to be employed, what is the percentage of unemployment in that community?

Edward Amey:

it's north of 75%. 


It’s horrendous. So people who can work who are  intellectually, developmentally disabled. 75% of that population is not employed. Has not been hired. And so this is my question.

If we are all looking for people to work for us, every store you look at, why aren't there more IDD folks who are employed and working at those stores? 


We're seeing movement there.  That's basically the challenge I laid down to the division here at Jay Noland that focuses on employment support services and they saw it as an opportunity.

Now their challenge is also hiring people to support,  job coach, job developers, so that it's sort of as a circular hampering. But,  this has opened up the conversation, Matt. It's incredible.  And so, programs like Jay Noland already had in place. We have a partnership with College of the Canyons in, Santa Clarita,  and with the, or this, this great thing called the Uniquely Abled Academy.

We have folks on the Autism spectrum, and other developmental disabilities that they have to test. And the math test is incredible. In fact, I don't think I could pass it,  to get into this program to be trained  to operate CNC machines, and that's computer numerically controlled machines,  they build parts for things that go into aerospace and  cars, and even little tiny,  tchotchkes.

But that have to be precise and they have to be the same every single.  and these machines are extremely expensive and  they operate 'em on 24 hours, three shifts. And so this program trains individuals in that. And then,  Jay Noland comes alongside and provides the training. We provide the soft skills training, how to interview,  be a good employee, interact with colleagues and  all those different things.

Interview skills, resume writing, and then we provide a job fair at the end, and then support them, in their role until we can fade out from that. And we have a 98% placement rate because they are really, really good at this.

It is in their wheelhouse. It's, and that's why it's called the Uniquely Abled Academy, because it's, instead of saying, Hey, do something that'll make you feel good. It's, I have solved a business problem for you. Your job is repetitive and it's exacting. And I have people who are really, really good at that.

 And they're making a fantastic wage. Well, one guy owns his own condo,  and  he works  the knock shift and rides his mountain bike during the day cuz that's what makes him. He's living his best life.  And  he's a taxpayer, unfortunately for like the rest of us, but,  hits his contribution.

 We had one individual that came into a company,  and at that point in time the part that they were making, the average among the team was,  eight an hour. And  that,  doubt to make it as exact and all that. Three months into his employment there, his personal average was.

Now that makes, Oh, that's cool. No, that's a 50% increase straight to that employer's bottom line. Hmm. He's like, When's your next cohort ? And,  when we do our job fair, it is the day of their graduation. And of the 10 in this last cohort, seven had multiple job offers that day. …

So, let me introduce you to  a different mindset, which is employees you may need to train a little bit, or you may need to be tolerant of a job coach with them.

But you will get their very best every day.


Learn More about Jay Nolan Community Services.


Do you think you or someone you know in nonprofits would be a great guest on our podcast? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Have your company or product promoted on our next show! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About Envision Consulting

With offices in Los Angeles and New York, Envision Consulting works exclusively with nonprofits all across the country on executive and supported search, strategic planning and partnerships, and other organizational transitions, with diversity, equity and inclusion integrated into all of our practices.