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Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services

Joseph Ashley

Joseph Ashley, Ph.D., C.R.C
DRS Project Director

Dr. Ashley is Assistant Commissioner for Grants and Special Programs at Virginia's Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS), with responsibility for oversight of the agency's activities related to the TWWIIA and WIA programs. Dr. Ashley has over 30 years’ experience planning, directing, and managing programs for people with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. He has extensive experience in administering statewide programs that develop, promote, and provide opportunities and services for people with disabilities, including assistive technology and workforce development.

Kirsten Rowe

Kirsten Rowe, Ph.D.
DRS Research Liaison

Dr. Rowe, DRS Grants and Systems Development Specialist, has over 25 years’ experience in research and program evaluation, and has held research and evaluation positions with the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment; the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services; the School of Nursing and the Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. She is responsible for coordinating consumer and employer involvement in implementing the state’s Medicaid Infrastructure Grant, and is currently working with DRS staff, other state agencies, and research and evaluation contractors on a state-level assessment of selected workforce development programs, including VR.

Richard Kriner

Richard Kriner, LPC, C.R.C
DRS Project Liaison

Richard Kriner, LPC, CRC, has 10 years of experience in working with and for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities. Richard's most recent work experiences came as a Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) Program Manager with oversight responsibilities to the Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council and for Virginia’s statewide network of Disability Services Board (DSB). In other roles with DRS, Richard has worked with the Virginia Disability Program Navigator Initiative, a statewide project focused on enhancing access to workforce service for all persons with disabilities, and as Vocational Counselor. Prior to coming to DRS Richard worked in community and facility based settings providing therapeutic recreation services, substance abuse counseling, and supported employment.

Erica Lovelace

Erica Lovelace, M.A.
DRS Education Services Manager

Erica Lovelace is the Education Services Manager for the Department of Rehabilitative Services and provides oversight to VR counselors across the Commonwealth in areas of transition and access to higher education for consumers served by DRS. Erica serves as the Department of Rehabilitative Services representative on the Virginia Autism Council and provides information to VR counselors on effectively serving individuals with ASD. Prior to her current position she was a counselor for 26 years in Northern Virginia where she served youth in transition and provided VR services to individual attending institutions of higher education. While a counselor she worked with several individuals with ASD who were pursuing higher education.

University of Richmond

David Dean

David Dean, Ph.D.
Research Associate

Dr. David H. Dean is the Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Richmond and Director of UR’s Bureau of Disability Economics Research (BDER). Dr. Dean has served as principal investigator on both federal and state grants and contracts (including the U.S. Department of Education, the Veterans Administration, the Social Security Administration, and DRS) examining the efficacy of programs serving persons with disabilities. Previously, Dr. Dean served as project director on a five-year project funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research examining the efficacy of disability income systems. Dr. Dean has published the results of many of these research projects in refereed economics journals and rehabilitation journals.

Henrico County Public Schools

Henrico County is located just outside of Richmond, VA and includes 69 schools and over 48,000 students. Within the school system, the Department of Exceptional Education and Support Services is responsible for the instructional programs, "IEP's" for approximately 7,000+ students with disabilities who have been found eligible for special education services. In addition to educating these students from two to 22 years of age (preschool to grade 12), the department provides a vast array of related services, including speech, counseling, occupational therapy and physical therapy to afford these students the opportunity to gain benefit from their education.

Barbara L. Driver, Ph.D., Director
Exceptional Education and Support Services

Emily S. Snead
High School Specialist
Exceptional Education and Support Services
Henrico County Public Schools

The Faison School for Autism

The Faison School for Autism was established in 1999 by Markel Chairman Alan Kirshner and Flo Guzman to serve children with autism. At 18 months, their own granddaughter Brittany Faison was diagnosed with autism. Kirshner and Guzman founded the school in hopes of serving Brittany and other children like her utilizing the best teachers, resources, and research available. The Faison School began with just four preschool age students who worked daily with an autism specialist. A partnership developed with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Psychiatry, and the school took shape as both a treatment center and a behavioral research laboratory under the auspices of the Autism Center of Virginia.

Dr. Kathy Mathews
Director of Education


The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) provides leadership and support for a comprehensive program of research related to the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities. All of their programmatic efforts are aimed at improving the lives of individuals with disabilities from birth through adulthood.


The purpose of the Virginia Commonwealth University RRTC is to study those supports that are most effective for assisting individuals with disabilities maintain employment and advance their careers. The primary stakeholders for this project are persons with disabilities, with an emphasis on those who are unemployed, underemployed or at risk of losing employment.

We specifically are targeting those individuals from traditionally underrepresented populations with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, since this group is most at risk in America. The secondary stakeholders include rehabilitation professionals, families, and persons working in business and industry.

To assist us in our mission and goals, the VCU-RRTC has collaborated with experts within business, rehabilitation, education, employment and the disability community.


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VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workplace Supports and Job Retention
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University |
This project is funded by the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP) grant #H133B080027 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).
VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center
1314 West Main Street | P.O. Box 842011 | Richmond, Virginia 23284-2011
Phone: (804) 828-1851 | TTY: (804) 828-2494 | Fax: (804) 828-2193
Last updated: 12/21/2014