The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), a sub-cabinet agency within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is the federal government’s leading center of expertise on the employment of people with disabilities. In support of DOL’s focus on expanding opportunities for all Americans, ODEP influences national policy and promotes effective workplace practices that ensure today’s workforce is inclusive of all people, including those with disabilities. Reflecting this, a key aspect of ODEP’s work entails effectively communicating its current priorities with a range of stakeholders, including policy makers, advocacy organizations, employers, people with disabilities and their families and service providers.
Since 2005, Concepts has provided ongoing editorial and writing support to ODEP, serving as author or editor of a wide range of content for print or online publication and producing several multi-media products, including video and photographic profiles of people with disabilities in the workplace. In 2009, the scope of Concepts’ role expanded to include speechwriting and other executive visibility activities for the agency’s newly confirmed leader, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez.
Upon assuming office, Ms. Martinez, an already well-known and respected leader in the disability community, undertook an ambitious agenda of speaking and writing opportunities in an effort to directly engage with ODEP’s diverse stakeholder groups across the nation. To assist in ensuring these activities were a success, Concepts conducted extensive interviews with Ms. Martinez and subject matter experts from across ODEP’s policy teams and used information gleaned to create a speech template. Concepts also conducted presentation coaching for Ms. Martinez, helping her hone strategies for preparing for and practicing speeches and media interviews.
After laying this foundation, Concepts assumed the role of Ms. Martinez’ “ghost” voice, penning the vast majority of her speeches, as well as bylined articles and blog posts. Content drafted by Concepts has been delivered by Assistant Secretary Martinez at dozens of events both large and small, with audiences ranging from business leaders to policymakers to youth with disabilities and their families. Concepts has also drafted her remarks for several video messages, including her annual address for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a public awareness campaign led by ODEP.
As part of this effort, Concepts also ghostwrites Assistant Secretary Martinez’ published work, including a monthly post for DOL’s blog, Work in Progress, and periodic posts for the White House blog. In addition, Concepts has drafted numerous articles published under Assistant Secretary Martinez’ byline for magazines, such as Diversity Business and AbilityOne, and developed talking points for interviews with reporters covering topics related to disability and employment.