As an attorney, Carolyn Jeppsen is used to fighting for justice.
Outside the courtroom, she has used her skills as both a litigator and Mama Bear of a child with disabilities to bring the fight to society. Jeppsen for more than 15 years has served on boards of organizations that champion clients with disabilities.
Now as CEO and president of BroadFutures, an organization she, Diana Eisenstat, and Brad Holmes co-founded to champion a more inclusive workforce, Jeppsen is making the case for neurodiversity in the workplace, while empowering young people to succeed.
Jeppsen visits the campus on Feb. 14, conducting an hour-long presentation about how BroadFutures is revolutionizing the way young people with learning disabilities enter the workplace.
In advance of her visit, Jeppsen below answers questions about BroadFutures and the future of neurodiversity in the workaday world.
Q: Tell us about Broad Futures.
A: BroadFutures is a training, mentoring, and paid internship program for young people with learning and related disabilities. The overarching goal at BroadFutures is to revolutionize the way young people with learning and related disabilities enter the workplace. BroadFutures was born out of the fervent belief that young people with learning disabilities have much to offer, but remain under-employed due to the lack of opportunity and supports.
Q: How does Broad Futures achieve this goal?
A: We achieve our goal through a holistic training, mentoring and paid internship program that incorporates the arts, yoga and mindfulness, as well as a unique peer mentor and coaching model. Our outcome goals are to ensure successful futures for our participants through increased confidence, independence, resilience, and ability to communicate professionally.
Q: When looking for employment, should candidates disclose their learning disabilities?
A: This is a highly personal decision and there is no right or wrong answer to it. It depends on the candidate, the employer, and the nature of the employment that the candidate is seeking. There are times when it is advantageous to disclose during the application phase, as it very well may give you an advantage in the hiring process. There are other times where it may be more advantageous to wait until you have a job offer. However, if you are a candidate who requires accommodations in order to successfully navigate the application process, you should absolutely disclose, so that you are not at a competitive disadvantage. Finally, many individuals see their disabilities as part of their identity, are proud of being disabled, and feel it is an integral part of who they are and should be disclosed along with everything else that is professionally appropriate to disclose regarding what makes you you.
Q: How does Beacon College fit into this puzzle?
A: We have actually been serving Beacon College students since 2015; however, it has only been a few. We are looking to create a more robust partnership with Beacon, as our program is expanding rapidly, and the college has a reputation for excellence in serving the same student population that BroadFutures serves. In five years, we have gone from five interns and three employers, to serving over 150 young people directly, hundreds more through our outreach programs, and partnering with over 50 employers. Our employers highly value our supportive model and understand that disability is a part of the diversity conversation and the value of young people who learn and think differently. We have a diverse group of employers who offer amazing opportunities that we feel Beacon College students could — and should — be taking advantage of and we look forward to working with them to succeed.