Heidi is passionate about empowering and quipping employers to create diverse and inclusive workplaces that engage the talent of people with disabilities. She has worked in the field of disability employment for thirty years, creating innovative trainings and engaging businesses to create a culture of inclusion for people who have traditionally faced barriers. As the founder of Dirkse Counseling and Consulting, Inc. she leads a team of fifteen professionals in the Portland Metro area who resonate with her passion and commitment. As a business owner, Heidi possess an informed perspective of the needs of business as they seek to hire and retain talent that reflects the richness of diversity, especially in disability employment. Her educational background and experience as a licensed professional counselor, nationally certified rehabilitation counselor, and workplace mediator have been the backbone of her successful practice providing consultation, coaching and training for employers in their disability inclusion efforts.
David has been a Director of Sales with a range of hotels including Radisson, Courtyard by Marriott, Embassy Suites and now Curio by Hilton. One of the sales tools he continues to leverage is to share inspiring stories of Project SEARCH hotel interns with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Getting to know each class over eight years, David played a role in helping to find meaningful employment following their course completion. This came from hosting transition job fairs, touring potential employers through his hotel to see the interns on the job and calling employers that may be looking for applicants with equivalent transferable skills. Realizing bottom line numbers often hold more sway than inspiring stories, David began measuring the positive impact on hotel turnover, team engagement and customer loyalty. David is currently working towards creating a Disability:IN Affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska where he lives with his wife and two children.
Brian Collins, Senior Manager, Microsoft Real Estate & Facilities. Based in Redmond Washington, Brian is currently responsible for leading Microsoft’s Workplace Planning and Change Management across the companies 14m square feet corporate headquarters. In addition, Brian leads the Microsoft Real Estate and Facilities Supported Employment Program. Brian joined Microsoft in 1996 as the Facilities Manager for the Dublin campus, and in his previous roles with Microsoft he was responsible for The Global Workplace Strategies Group; defining and driving the ‘Workplace Advantage (WPA)’ program; including Workplace research, knowledge management, change management project consulting across Microsoft’s global portfolio. He was also Area Portfolio Manager for RE&F in Central & Eastern Europe, and Facilities Manager for EMEA (Europe Middle East & Africa) where he coordinated facilities activities over 160 locations in 50+ countries.
Ken Kaneko is the CEO of Forward Greens in Vancouver, WA. Forward Greens utilizes vertical farming practices to grow fresh produce while reducing natural resource requirements. A local cosmopolitan farm, focused on serving the environment and planting the seeds to create a cleaner future for generations to come. The farm provides the most efficient way to foster the tastiest greens, found in grocery stores across the Pacific Northwest. Ken’s primary focus is on creating a commercially viable business that can responsibly scale in relation to the community and environment. His former experience spans R/D and operations at Intel Corp. and Apple Inc. He currently serves on the Department of Energy, National Alliance for Water Innovation team for the agricultural sector.