Legacy Panel

Debra McLean

Debra is passionate about seeing all people obtain employment. She has been intrigued with community building and person centered planning as a way to see individuals with disabilities succeed in jobs that fit them since 1988. She has worked on a number of projects involving people with disabilities and employment. Debra provides training and consultation on employment and person centered planning in Washington and Oregon, and she has taught classes on these topics at Portland State University in the Teacher Education Program and for Highline Community College. She has worked with schools, families, agencies, businesses, and individuals, both in the U.S. and in Australia. Debra holds an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling and Deafness, and she is an enthusiastic walker and family member.


Lee Valenta

Lee Valenta has advocated for employment for people with developmental disabilities for over fifty years in Illinois, Washington State, and nationally.  He was instrumental in starting Vadis in 1974, and along with Larry Rhodes, created Trillium Employment Services in 1983.  Lee was the Director of the Washington Supported Employment Initiative (now WISE) from 1987-94, overseeing the five-year federal system change grant and facilitated the organization’s transition to a non-profit organization that continues to provide training and technical assistance statewide and nationally.
While continuing his work around supported employment as a consultant, Lee was a founding board member and volunteer manager of the Auburn Symphony Orchestra in 1997.  In 2007 he became Executive Director, the position from which he retired in 2018.  He was selected by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce as Citizen of the year in 2000, and was honored as Person of the Year by the Auburn Reporter newspaper in 2018.


Linda Rolfe

Linda Rolfe retired as the Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities in Washington State in March, 2013.  She has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over 45 years.  In her career Linda has been a PASS and PASSING Team Leader and PASS/PASSING Workshop Coordinator.  She presided over the development of guidelines for Washington State service providers that establishes six (6) benefits expected from the delivery of services including Health and Safety, Power and Choice, Status and Respect, Relationships, Integration and Competence.  She directed the development and implementation of the Working Age Adult Policy in Washington that establishes the expectation that every person with disabilities can be employed and has the right and responsibility to be employed.  Linda has consulted with several states on employment issues for people with disabilities.  She worked with the Office of Disability Employment Policy in the US Department of Labor as a subject matter expert for the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Project (EFSLMP) and the national Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) required by Congress in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA).  She is the author of an article, “Employment in Washington State,” published by the Alliance for Full Participation and in the Community Services Reporter, Volume 17, Number 4 published by the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities.  She has authored articles on the importance of employment for Australia and New Zealand.  She received the Ben Censoni Award from the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS), the 2011 Torch Award from APSE, the national Association of People Supporting Employment First, and a 2013 lifetime achievement award from Provail of Washington State.


Molly Holsapple

Molly Holsapple has spent a career and lifetime as an advocate and implementer of quality supports for employment and a full life for persons with disabilities, primarily persons with developmental disabilities.  Over more than 40 years, she has been a leader in the systems improvement that has helped expand individual’s opportunities from an institution to the community, from a workshop to community individualized employment, from slot based to true person centered services through policy change, rate reform, the development of Oregon’s brokerage system, and support for interagency and broad based collaboration and problem solving while working at a community nonprofit, county and/or state levels within VR and/or  DD in Oregon and Virginia.  Since retirement in 2012, Molly has assisted WISE, provider organizations and government agencies in policy analysis, staff training, messaging and storytelling in support of Employment First.


Paula Johnson

Paula began her career in 1977 as a trainer at Olympus, a small electronic assembly company in Seattle that trained and employed individuals with significant developmental disabilities.  Over the next 40+ years, she gained experience in job analysis, job development, career planning, marketing, staff training, and management.  During her nine-years at the University of San Francisco, McLaren School of Business, she directed California’s Supported Employment statewide training projects and led the California Corporate Initiative.  She served as the National Director of Best Buddies Jobs and led the expansion of ten employment programs across the US and Latin America.  Paula is currently a Program Specialist with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital – Project SEARCH and assists agencies with the development of Project SEARCH training programs in 10 western states. She is the Treasurer for Oregon APSE and serves on the APSE National Board as the Regional Delegate for the Northwest and Pacific region.  Her passion for equitable employment for people with disabilities has grown with each passing year.


Phil McConnell

Phil McConnell is the former Executive Director of Work Opportunities, a private non-profit organization providing supported employment services for people with disabilities in three counties in Washington state. Phil holds a BA in Education from University of Northern Iowa and an MA in Rehabilitation Administration from University of San Francisco. Phil, who makes his home in Snohomish, WA, has worked in many capacities throughout his career as an advocate for increased community integration for persons with disabilities.


Trish Borden 

Trish’s career has been focused on creating employment for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. This includes developing multiple opportunities in large corporations and government. As the Executive Director of Trillium Employment Services, she focused on meeting the goal of doubling the number of people employed in four years. A community builder at heart, Trish served on the Auburn City Council for 12 years and has been an active member of the Auburn Rotary club for over 25 years. The Auburn Chamber named her Citizen of the Year in 2010. 
Her knowledge of job development practice is extensive. She was the founding developer and teacher of Job Development and Marketing for Highline Community College’s Employment Specialist Certification Program. 
Trish is a professional leadership coach certified by Hudson Institute of Coaching. She works with individuals who seek leadership growth or want to make more of an impact through their work. Her coaching expertise and her experience as an Executive Director makes her an ideal resource for coaching and consulting with non-profit leaders.


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