2018 DMEC Annual Conference


The complex and rapidly-changing landscape of leave and disability management presents unique challenges for integrated absence management professionals. The 2018 DMEC Annual Conference, Aug. 6-9, in Austin is your ticket to dynamic, interactive education and
networking that will help you to improve the performance of your programs and enhance your skills as a thought leader within your organization.

Join 700+ absence and disability professionals who are looking to innovative and progressive solutions such as artificial intelligence, geosocial data, productive aging, neurodiversity, and more to solve some of today’s most challenging workforce issues. You will hear directly from other employers and absence experts who are managing complex programs and will gain unique insight into the emerging trends that will impact your programs over the next few years.

Download the full program or browse the online agenda below. Come join us in Austin!

Nyle DiMarco_Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker

Nyle DiMarco, winner of America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars, will be the keynote speaker at the 2018 DMEC Annual Conference.

With a passion for language, literacy, and advocacy within the deaf community and beyond, Nyle will share his barrier-breaking story as a deaf man who has risen above stereotypes to take the world by storm.

Watch a short video clip of DiMarco as he encourages his audience to identify and appreciate their unique gifts and to realize that organizations need individuals’ differences to achieve success.

Monday | August 6

7:00 am-5:00 pm Registration Open
Preconference Workshop: Benchmarking and Data Analysis
9:00-10:00 am Beyond Benchmarking: Creating Value Beyond the Numbers 
Employers are always looking for ways to determine the effectiveness of their programs. However, with company sponsored leaves and paid benefit programs on the rise, there is less benchmarking data available to define industry standards and return on investment. Employers are more often required to look beyond the data available to evaluate their programs. During this session, we will walk you through the steps for establishing benchmarking data that is meaningful for your organization and discuss best practices for evaluating both the data and other factors to determine how well your programs are performing.

Deborah Labonar, PhD, Senior Director, Absence Analytics, ReedGroup
David Setzkorn, MBA, CPCU, CPM, National Practice Leader, The Standard
Suzanne Wilson, Vice President Reporting & Analytics, Matrix Absence Management
10:00-10:30 am Break
10:30-11:30 am Measuring Up: IBI’s Leave Policy Benchmarking Series 
Understanding how your organization’s leave programs stack up against the competition is an important part of your talent attraction and retention strategies, but employers often lack information that would help design and implement competitive policies. This session will explore recent surveys from Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), in which more than 900 organizations gave feedback about their formal leave policies, including maternity, parental, and family leaves; sick days; short- and long-term disability; bereavement; and PTO/leave banks. Learn how these reports can be used in the workplace to help you develop competitive programs for your own organization.
Discussion of the findings will center on who is eligible for leaves, how much time off employers allow, what they pay employees on leave, and other policy dimensions. You will come away with basic guidance on what is typical for specific types of leaves, and a starting point for crafting policies that best address your specific business goals for your workforce needs.

Brian Gifford, PhD, Director, Research and Analytics, Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI)
11:30 am-12:30 pm Lunch on Your Own
12:30-1:30 pm Risk Screening Techniques: Changing the Future of Case Management 
What if you could utilize predictive analytics to accurately identify your riskiest claims from the beginning, and operationalize a game plan to get them back on track? With progress in research, we now know more about risk factors for poor recovery — and how best to address them. And the right approach does not always look like tighter control with sharper teeth!
In this session, you will learn about two alternative approaches to risk screening that can pinpoint high-risk cases early and with better accuracy than ever before. And because simply identifying the at-risk claim isn’t enough, you will also discover how to create and execute an effective game plan to change their course. Our presenters will describe a new early intervention model being developed and field-tested by pioneering physicians, managed care companies, and employers that will allow you to utilize three distinct management pathways for at-risk cases.

Stan Smith, Predictive Analytics Practice Leader, Milliman
Jennifer Christian, President, Webility Corporation
1:30-2:00 pm Break
2:00-3:00 pm Investigations in the Age of Geosocial Data 
The current growth of geosocial data is changing the face of risk management and investigations. Learn what geosocial data is, and how this type of information is used to investigate insurance claims of all kinds. Gain eye-opening insight into accidents, site security, workplace harassment, and more, by locating social media photographs, videos, and posts at specific locations anywhere in the world. This session utilizes real-life case examples to demonstrate the impact of this new technology in the realm of risk management, law, and insurance. The session will show you how evidence can be uncovered and leveraged in a variety of scenarios. Privacy and legal issues, as well as preserving, authenticating, and presenting this type of cyber evidence will also be discussed.

Garrett McGinn, MA, Director of Intelligence Division, DigiStream Investigations
3:00-3:15 pm Wrap-Up & Announcements
3:15-3:30 pm Break
Roundtable Discussions
3:30-4:30 pm All Things Accommodation
Mental Health in the Workplace
Hospital Systems
Insourcing vs. Outsourcing
Preconference Workshop: Paid Leave
3:30-5:00 pm The Business Impact of Paid Leave: An Interactive Workshop 
There is currently no standard approach to calculating the business value, health impacts, or general return on investment of paid leave. And yet, we know a healthier workforce impacts measurable business areas such as employee performance, productivity, and company profitability.
The Paid Leave Project spent the past year conducting research on the drivers, barriers, and emerging trends of voluntary adoption of paid leave by the largest corporations across the United States. Employers want more data to strengthen the business case for paid leave. It’s time we work together to transform workforce health from a line-item cost to a source of business value. Join us for this interactive workshop as we explore this topic and potential tactics to measure the business impact of paid leave.

Marianna Hegyi, People Team Manager, Limeade
Kimble Snyder, Director, Panorama
Steven Maxwell, President, Human Capital Management Institute, LLC
6:00-8:00 pm DMEC Opening Welcome Reception 
Kick off your Austin experience with a chance to connect with old friends and fellow attendees at the 2018 DMEC opening welcome reception. Everyone is invited to join the festivities for a special evening of great food and fun.
Sponsored by
National Sponsors


Tuesday | August 7

7:00 am-5:00 pm Registration Open
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast with Exhibitors 
Sponsored by

Morneau Shepell
General Sessions
8:30-8:45 am Welcome & Opening Remarks 

Marcia Carruthers, MBA, CPDM, Chairman of the Board, DMEC
Terri Rhodes, CCMP, CLMS, CPDM, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, DMEC
8:45-9:30 am Opening Keynote: Living Out Loud 
Prepare to be moved and inspired as Nyle DiMarco, winner of America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars, demonstrates the value of non-verbal communication and embracing one’s true identity. As he shares his barrier-breaking story as a deaf man, he will pique your curiosity as you gain a deeper understanding of the deaf community. During this powerful session, Nyle will reveal his triumphs, challenges, fears, and dreams, and encourage you to live your own life authentically and define your own version of success. You will walk away enlightened and empowered to defy societal pressures, embrace diversity, and appreciate and harness your personal strengths.

Invited Speaker
Nyle DiMarco
Sponsored by

9:30-10:00 am Coffee & Conversation Break with Exhibitors
10:00-11:00 am Mental Health in the Workplace: The Invisible Disability, Now Visible 
Mental illnesses, once hidden and invisible in the workplace, are now taking center stage for many employers as they realize the true impact these illnesses have on overall workplace health and productivity. During this session, we will walk through the facts related to the increasing national disabled workforce and discuss the impact to both the employee and the organization when mental health in the workplace is not supported or treated. Attendees of this session will gain an understanding of mental illness, the stigma attached to the illness, and what can be done now to stem the untenable tide of absenteeism, presenteeism, and organizational cost that these disabilities can produce.

Rachel A. Shaw, MBA, President, Shaw HR Consulting, Inc
11:00 am-12:00 pm FMLA/ADA Lessons Learned: Recent Court Cases, Jury Verdicts and Settlements 
Each year, hundreds of court decisions interpreting employers’ ADA and FMLA obligations, including jury verdicts and large settlements, are decided. Each decision has important implications for employers. During this session, we will identify trends that have emerged, and advise about the “do’s” and “don’ts” with regard to ADA/ FMLA compliance challenges. You will learn what makes courts and juries sympathetic to employers and how to improve your policies, practices, and processes for handling ADA accommodation issues to avoid liability. Ensure you have the tools you need to avoid risk in this hotly-litigated area!

Megan Holstein, JD, SVP Absence and Claims Management, FINEOS
Marjory D. Robertson, JD, AVP & Senior Counsel, Sun Life Financial Services Company, Inc
12:00-1:30 pm Lunch with Exhibitors
Concurrent Sessions
1:30-2:30 pm A1. FMLA Harassment and ADA Retaliation: Legal and Practical Applications 
Organizations need to know how to address and prevent retaliation and harassment related to family and medical leaves and employees with disabilities. Using an interactive case study exercise, this session will employ a fact-finding approach to clarifying the applicable legal standards under the ADA, the FMLA, and state and local leave and disability laws. You will hear about court cases and situations that illustrate potential pitfalls to avoid and walk away with practical tools and solutions for navigating retaliation and harassment.

Susan W. Brecher, Director, Scheinman Institute, Cornell University
Judy Young, MA, Associate Director, Training and Development, Cornell University
B1. Digital Solutions: A Window Into the Back Office of Absence Case Management 
How would you feel if 10,000 employees walked into your headquarters office and could see how their absences are being managed? Digital solutions deliver shorter turnaround times, increased awareness, and, in turn, come with increased customer expectations, including greater transparency. If you want to provide superior customer service, you’ll need to bring employees much closer to each stage of your absence management process. This session will highlight five key absence case management functions you should evaluate to ensure a positive digital experience.

Jonathan Boylan, BSc Chief Technology Officer, FINEOS
Randi Weir Simmons, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, AVP Absence Management, FINEOS
C1. Engagement Matters: An Employee-Centric Approach to Preventing Work Disability 
It is becoming clear how important engaging employees in staying at work, their recovery, and returning to work (RTW) is in reducing the human, social, and economic costs of work disability. The worker is central to the process and all stakeholders should play a supporting role rather than a lead role. Instead of a department building an RTW program from the top down, we will show how the Washington State Department of Corrections used a grassroots approach to develop an integrated work disability prevention program with a foundation of employee engagement. Using engagement as the unifying purpose, we will highlight how powerful it can be to engage frontline staff all the way up to the C-suite as you build your programs.

Sonja Dordal, MA, CWPC, Wellness Coordinator and Occupational Health and Wellness Manager, Washington State Department of Corrections
Jason Parker, B.HK, President/CEO, Centrix Disability Management Services
D1. It Seems Simple, But: The Complexities of Reasonable Accommodation 
While most disability management programs cover transitional return-to-work, light-duty, and stay-at-work programs, employers have traditionally paid less attention to the broader ADAAA requirements which include reasonable accommodations. This oversight leaves them open to significant EEOC violations, which could result in six-figure penalties for an individual incident.
Because of its unique workplace environment, the airline industry faces extraordinary challenges in meeting reasonable accommodation demands. This includes managing accommodations or temporary light-duty assignments for employees in various occupations, to fair reassignment practices for employees who can no longer work at their previous jobs due to disability.
In this session, we will detail the evolution of United Airlines’ reasonable accommodation program and explain how these implemented strategies can be applied to other industries.

Amy Kelly, MS, CRC, Director, Absence Management, United Airlines
Christi Doe, MEd, CPDM, Director, Disability & Absence Management Services, ECN, a division of Genex Services LLC
E1. The Impact of Chronic Disease on Workplace Health and Productivity 
This session will focus on the ever-increasing burden of chronic disease that is impacting employees and their organizations. We will discuss the current and future state of employee health status as it relates to chronic disease and explore evidence-informed strategies and best practices to reduce the impact of chronic disease on health, productivity, and engagement in the workplace. We will review investments in strategic workplace health, well-being, absenteeism, presenteeism, and absence and disability management as well as disability prevention.

Tyler Amell, PhD, MSc, BSc, Chief Relationship Officer, CoreHealth Technologies
2:30-3:00 pm Dessert & Converation Break with Exhibitors
3:00-4:00 pm A2. I Thought We Were Supposed to Be Flexible?! ADA Leave Cases Post-Severson 
In the 2017 Severson v. Heartland Woodcraft case, the 7th circuit court of appeals said that long-term leaves are not reasonable accommodations under the law. This runs counter to the EEOC’s enforcement over the last several years as well as the multi-million dollar settlements they’ve procured. After this landmark case, what’s an employer to do? In this informative session, we will walk through the highlights of this case and the significant impact it has on how employers handle the leave process moving forward.

Matt Morris, JD, VP of FMLASource, ComPsych
Jeff Nowak, JD, Partner and Co-Chair, Labor and Employment Practice Group, Franczek Radelet PC
B2. The Digital Do’s & Don’ts of Leave Technology 
Many employers are exploring technology to support internal leave processes and practices. While technology may help you solve challenges with process efficiencies and achievement of regulatory compliance, there are several things to be aware of as you investigate the variety of technology applications now available in the market. This session will explore what to do and what not to do when leveraging technology for leave administration. We will discuss how technology can be integrated in your current state and improve your future state of compliance, reporting, and overall administrative management.

Connie Moore, Director, Absence & Productivity, Pacific Resources
Melanie Payton, Senior Consultant, Absence Management, Pacific Resources
C2. Employer Size: The Effect on Absence & Productivity 
Are you struggling with managing the effects of workplace absence? You are not alone; many employers struggle with lower levels of productivity, lost profits, and workplace disruptions when employees are absent.
A 2017 research project analyzed employer’s experiences with the FMLA & short-term disability (STD) in the context of employer size. The results show that employers of various sizes experience different issues depending on their industry and their organizational structure. This session will detail the differences between large and smaller employers across all industries, experiences with FMLA & STD usage and cost, before diving into specific industries, including hospitals, food manufacturers, and others. We will outline actionable insights to provide you with tools to help you address these size-related absence issues.

Michael Klachefsky, Consultant, ClaimVantage, Inc
D2. Peer-to-Peer Communication: Getting Physicians on Board about RTW 
Clinicians have a central role in all aspects of medical leave — diagnosis and treatment, functional limitations, and return-to-work (RTW) decisions. However, with little training in this area, they often fail to recognize the negative consequences of being out of work, feel conflicted about their role, and don’t take the time to address this problem. Educational programs, requests for documentation, and other strategies have not had much of an impact. During this session, we will highlight a strategy that has proved effective: collaboration with trusted peers who are familiar with work absence, work restrictions, and other RTW issues. We will discuss the causes of the problem, scientific evidence and practical experience on effectiveness of a peer-to-peer approach, and provide suggestions for employers to prevent unnecessary disability.

Herminio Vargas, MBA, MPA, JD, Senior Manager, Integrated Absence Management, Walmart
Glenn Pransky, MD, Scientific Advisory, Lincoln Financial Group
David Berube, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Lincoln Financial Group
E2. The Journey to Minimizing the Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace 
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affect more than half of Americans age 18+ and account for one-third of lost work time. All industries struggle with the impact MSDs have on absence and lost productivity as well as the associated healthcare and disability costs.
This session will provide insight into ways that employers can identify and quantify MSD risk factors as well as the bottom line impact to their organization. Learn how members of our employer panel took a deeper look at the impact of MSD on their disability experience and healthcare spend and made the crucial decision to implement proactive strategies to address this issue. These innovative strategies vary from vendor partnership to ergonomic solutions to building a robust return-to-work program.

Rebecca Day, Benefits Manager, Total Rewards, Cox Communications, Inc
Kim German, BSN, COHN-S, Nurse Case Manager/SPHM Coordinator, Emory Healthcare
Mandy Stogner, CLMS – HR, Health & Wellbeing Consultant, Corporate Human Resources, Unum
Marcy Ledford, MS, CRC, CEAS, Director, Workforce Solutions Group, Unum
Stephanie Willett, MPH, Workforce Solutions Director, Unum
4:00-4:15 pm Break
4:15-5:15 pm A3. State by State: Paid Family and Medical Leave Legislation 
New York Paid Family Leave (NY PFL) has been all over the media lately, but a number of states are proposing or have passed their own paid family and medical leave laws, allowing employees to take paid time off from work for medical or family reasons. What are the nuances employers need to understand to manage current and emerging paid family leave laws effectively? How are employers looking at paid family leave benefits and attempting to be equitable to employees in states with differing or no paid family leave? How do paid family leave laws intersect with unpaid leaves, short-term disability, sick leave, or other paid company leaves? This session will cover all this and more.

Marissa Mayfield, Sr. Product Manager-PFL & Statutory Disability, Lincoln Financial Group
Lais Washington, JD, Technical Director, LMB Compliance, Lincoln Financial Group
B3. Automating Integrated Disability Management Programs to Drive Results, Improve Efficiency, and Reduce Cost 
During this session, you will learn how employers are using technology and automation to proactively identify absences requiring aggressive management and intervention, while simplifying and automating the administrative and employee process for routine absences and leaves. We’ll discuss the myriad benefits of this approach, including reduced durations of absences, reduction in administrative costs, and improved employee experience and satisfaction.

Loyd Hudson, SPHR, CPDM, IDM Manager, American Electric Power
Seth Turner, MBA, VP of Business Development, AbsenceSoft
C3. Predicting, Preventing, and Reducing Disability Absence 
Did you know that workplace absence can cost an employer $226 billion dollars a year? One of the ways to help reduce disability-related absences is to prevent disabling illnesses and injuries from happening in the first place. In this session you’ll hear how integrating your health plan with your disability management plan can help reduce short-term disability incidence and result in better return-to-work rates and shorter disability durations. You’ll also learn about best practices in pre-disability intervention programs and how these programs can help individuals prevent a potential disabling illness or injury, and help those already out on disability safely and productively return to work more quickly.

Meaghan Rohletter, Director of Health and Welfare Benefits, American Cancer Society
Chloe Potts, Talent Services Partner, American Cancer Society
Angelica Greene, Clinical Program Manager, Cigna
D3. ADA Title I Readiness: Medical Examinations for Workers’ Compensation, Hiring, and Reasonable Accommodation 
This session will prepare you to query medical examination service providers (physicians, occupational therapists, and physical therapists) for their readiness to comply with Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
We’ll begin with a review of the federal court’s response to medical examination issues central to recent hiring, stay-at-work, workers’ compensation, and reasonable accommodation cases. From there, we’ll utilize a self-screening tool that will demonstrate how to match each type of medical examination to a hiring, retention, or reasonable accommodation situation. You’ll get updated knowledge of trends in employment testing and explore exposure that can be associated with medical opinions related to adverse employment decisions.

Roy O. Matheson, ADAC, MTM, Managing Partner, Reasonable Accommodation LLC
E3. The Flag System: Identifying Delayed Recovery Risk Factors 
Delayed recovery after an injury or illness presents a challenge to employers and employees alike. Using a flag system to identify multiple risk factors that impact or influence disability is a helpful way to apply a holistic, biopsychosocial model to disability management. In this session, we will discuss medical, psychosocial, psychiatric, and work barriers to recovering function; explore ways to identify these barriers; and discuss tools to address them in an effort to minimize delayed recovery for your employee.

Marcos A. Iglesias, MD, MMM, FAAFP, FACOEM, SVP, Chief Medical Officer, Broadspire
5:30-6:30 pm Happy Hour with Exhibitors


Wednesday | August 8

7:00 am-5:00 pm Registration Open
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast with Exhibitors
General Sessions
8:30-9:30 am Getting Back in the Game: Returning to Work After a Life-Changing Injury or Illness 
Returning to work after a life-changing injury or illness can be challenging not only physically, but mentally. What is the employee going through? How can you support your employee’s return to work? What other resources are available to assist you and your employee? During this session, we will share research and interventions underway for successful return to work, and will introduce Keith Gabel, a remarkable man who lost his leg in an industrial work accident. Discover how Keith greeted his disability and adversity with tremendous strength to rise above the challenges, focus on what is possible, and reach his goals. His positive outlook has opened many doors to other opportunities including becoming a world-class athlete and two-time U.S. Paralympian. Keith’s story will challenge your perception of people with disabilities and illustrate the power of the human spirit.

Keith Gabel, U.S. Paralympian
Dr. Adam Seidner, Chief Medical Officer, The Hartford
9:30-10:00 am Coffee & Conversation Break with Exhibitors
10:00-11:00 am The Changing Workforce and Benefit Design 
New technologies are poised to radically change work and the workforce, and it’s causing anxiety among employees, who are already leaning toward gigs (temporary jobs) and more flexible ways of working. No matter how pervasive machines may become, human workers will remain irreplaceable. Now is a pivotal time for employers to engage the human workforce by meeting their needs. Thought leaders from Duke University and MetLife will share insights which can help employers understand the drivers of engagement for the workforce of 2023 and the growing importance of workplace benefits. We will explore how these changes alter the way benefit plans are designed and how employers have begun to implement programs to address changing needs of the workforce.

Aaron Chatterji, PhD, Associate Professor, The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
Bradd Chignoli, Senior Vice President, MetLife
11:00 am-12:00 pm Impactful Diversity & Inclusion Strategies for the Workplace  Demographics are shifting, and the workforce of tomorrow will look very different than today. Companies must recognize these movements and adjust their workforce strategies accordingly. The composition of the workforce impacts hiring, training, and retention strategies; communication avenues; compensation and benefits programs; and use of technology. These factors impact how organizations manage their workers’ compensation and disability programs to maximize the value of the labor pool. Workers of different generations, backgrounds, and beliefs approach work differently, and this can impact employer protocols and plans. This session will address some of the demographic shifts in the workforce, discuss employer strategies for managing these differences, and examine the impact diversity & inclusion have on workers’ compensation and disability strategies.

Bryon Bass, SVP, Disability and Absence Practice & Compliance, Sedgwick
12:00-1:30 pm Lunch with Exhibitors
Sponsored by

Concurrent Sessions
1:30-2:30 pm A4. The Work/Life Squeeze: Policies and Protections for Caregiver Employees 
It’s a reality. Increasing numbers of employees have caregiver responsibilities for family members — children, elderly parents, family members with health needs, and others. The legal protections for caregiver employees are broad and numerous. Some employers are trying to get ahead of these issues by implementing family-friendly policies and benefits to assist employees in dealing with caregiver responsibilities. In this session, learn what various state and federal laws require of employers with respect to their caregiver employee population. A leading employer will share policies and benefits it has implemented in support of their employees. How these efforts are working, how they are being received by the employees, and what lessons have been learned so far will be covered.

Jim Tierney, GBA, CWPD, CPT, Sr. Program Manager, Total Absence Management, Coporate Benefits, Medtronic
Marti Cardi, JD, Vice President, Product Compliance, Matrix Absence Management, Inc
B4. Neurodiversity: Driving Innovation from Unexpected Places 
The business world is rapidly changing, fueled by increasingly sophisticated technology and an accelerating pace of innovation. As businesses adopt applications like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and process automation, they become more data-driven and connected. Despite the constant technological advances in business, people still play a critical role and organizations need to continually innovate and identify new sources of talent.
Leading companies such as SAP, Microsoft, HPE, and professional services firm Ernst & Young LLP (EY) are addressing strategic business issues by leveraging often-overlooked but talented individuals — people on the autism spectrum. As part of these initiatives, companies are discovering new benefits for their brands, employee engagement, customer relationships, and more. During this session, EY will share the decisions that led to launching their program, how to secure buy-in from key leadership, how to build the program (sourcing, partners, referrals, and more), and how to measure the impact and success of a program like this one.

Jamell Mitchell, NCoE Operations Leader, EY
Christopher Morris, Account Support Associate, EY
C4. Productive Aging and Cheese: A Case Study from Bel Brands 
As workforce demographics change, it is more important than ever to develop solutions that help employees stay safe and productive at work, especially as they age. So what do you get when an international cheese maker and an insurance company combine forces to develop a health and productivity strategy for an aging population? You get an innovative productive aging program.
Facing an aging population, Bel Brands turned to Prudential’s Health & Productivity Analytics and Consulting practice to design a one-of-a-kind productive aging program that helps workers (of all ages) stay healthy and productive at work. This session will explore the process, key findings, and outcomes from Bel Brands’ custom program.

Christy Naniot, SPHR-SCP, HR Manager, Bel Brands USA
Matthew Bahl, JD, Vice President, Financial Wellness Customer Strategies, Prudential Financial
Kristin Tugman, PhD, CRC, LPC, Vice President, Health & Productivity Analytics and Consulting Practice, Prudential Financial
D4. Tools, Techniques, and Technologies for Creating Inclusive Workplaces 
Inclusion results when good processes and practices are normalized into the workplace. Normalizing inclusion requires tools, techniques, and technologies. Many of these are embedded within the no-cost Workplace Accommodation Toolkit and Mobile Accommodation Solution app developed by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). This session will feature three new video trainings within the toolkit and a demonstration of the new app. You will leave this session with the tools, techniques, and technologies necessary for institutionalizing inclusion and ensuring the longevity of disability inclusion efforts.

Anne Hirsh, MS, CPDM, CoDirector, Job Accommodation Network
Deborah Dagit, President, Deb Dagit Diversity
E4. How to Lead, How to Succeed: Women in IAM 
How can you find balance between the personal and professional aspects of your life while still moving up? How can being a female work to your advantage? What does the #metoo movement mean for your future? During this lively discussion, integrated absence management (IAM) leaders will share their personal career journeys including life lessons and necessary detours, such as taking a demotion to eventually get to the next level. We will share the secrets to successful IAM leadership that you can use to advance your own careers, discuss what it truly takes to lead in today’s IAM world, and explore different types of opportunities in the field.

Maria Henderson, MS, CDMS, Chief Innovation Officer, WorkCare, Inc
Jenny Haykin, MA, CRC, Integrated Leaves & Accommodations Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy
Kimberly George, RN , Senior Vice President Corporate Development, M&A, and Healthcare, Sedgwick
2:30-3:00 pm Dessert & Converation Break with Exhibitors
3:00-4:00 pm A5. Supporting Your Employees During a Natural Disaster 
When a natural disaster strikes, it is important for employers to have a plan and safety measures in place and be aware of employment laws that may be implicated when a flood, hurricane, fire, earthquake or other emergency occurs. A panel of experts will discuss their organization’s experience with natural disasters which impacted and closed some of their facilities. We will focus on planning and preparedness; crisis communications including how to contact your employees, vendors, and suppliers; how to make correct decisions around the FMLA and short-term disability; evaluating alternate locations for continued business operations; understanding the psychological and financial impact on employees; and more. You will obtain practical hands-on information to help your organization prepare in advance of such emergency situations.

Stephen Buehler, Employee & Physician Assistance Program Consultant, Kaiser Permanente
Todd Masteller, EAP Liaison, Kaiser Permanente
Debra Zoppy, AVP, Operational Risk & Resiliency, GuardianModerator
Colleen Hutchings, Vice President, Operations and Client Services, ReedGroup
B5. Can Claims Be Managed by Robots? Data Is the Key 
We have all heard amazing things about the power of business analytics and artificial intelligence, but how far away is automated claims management? The use of analytics is on the rise in claims operations, and this will fundamentally change the industry. Data is the key resource needed to drive this change. During this session, we’ll look at what is hidden in our claims data and what questions we should be asking our claim service providers. From an operational viewpoint, we will examine cutting-edge techniques that automate the process of claims management and discuss some of the challenges that are being faced. While this is a significant change for the industry, it can be embraced as a unique opportunity to make claims management smarter and more efficient.

Jennifer Pardi, ALHC, Vice President of TPA Services, Professional Disability Associates
Ian Bridgman, Executive Director, The Claim Lab
C5. Taking the Plunge: First-Time Outsourcers Share Steps to Success 
As leave law complexity and regulations continue to grow, many employers are considering outsourcing their FMLA or disability programs for the first time to help avoid compliance issues and reduce the administrative burden on their HR departments. Learn how Michelin and Nissan made the “big” move to successful centralized outsourced models. What were their top concerns and the key factors in their decision to move to outsourcing? Hear first-hand how pre-implementation planning, project management, change management, training, reporting and data analytics, and partnership with internal and external technology organizations helped their transitions go smoothly.

Carla Pry, Disability Benefits Contract Liaison, Michelin North America
Tonyia Raglund-Davis, RN, MSN, MBA/HCM, Behavioral Health/EAP & Disability Manager, Michelin North America
Kimberly Sharp, Manager, Total Rewards, Nissan North America

Ryan Tamminga, Senior Director, Professional Services, ReedGroup
D5. A 360˚ View: From Stay at Work to Return to Work 
The disability claims experience begins long before a claim is filed. It begins with an employer’s corporate culture, and the inter-relationships among the benefits team, the disability insurance company, and the claimant. During this session, you’ll hear from Dr. Feranmi Okanlami who will share his journey from a life-altering injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down, and the role that his disability coverage played in his recovery. You’ll also hear how the team at Mitel have built an environment that helps employees to remain at and return to work. You’ll also gather best practices for establishing job accommodation policies and procedures; identifying opportunities through analysis of claims patterns and ergonomic assessments; and improving claimant communication about available vocational rehabilitation services and support.

Tammy Large, PHR, GBA, SHRM-CP, Director, Compensation and Benefits, Mitel
Feranmi Okanlami, MD, MS, Faculty Lead for Medical Student Success: Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, Michigan Medicine
Cammie McAda, MS, LPC, CRC, CEAS, ADAA, Vocational Rehab Employer Services Leader, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

Gene Lanzoni, AVP, Group & Worksite Marketing, Thought Leadership, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
E5. Leverage Your DISC Profile to Maximize Your Communication 
Working effectively with others is critical for your professional success. But what do you do when communication clashes make that feel impossible? Everyone has their own behavioral styles, but not everyone knows how to leverage this knowledge for their own success. This interactive session will utilize the DISC behavioral style model to help you gain key insights into your own work behaviors as well as how to “speed read” those around you. These skills will help you adjust your message to connect with your intended audience, helping you cut through the everyday “noise”. Improving your communication can help facilitate cooperation with others, build effective teams, and influence others, all of which can make or break your career.

Kristin Jones, CLMS, PHR, SHRM-CP, Continuing Education Manager, DMEC
4:00-4:15 pm Break
4:15-5:15 pm A6. From Training to Gaming: Approaches Promoting Mental Health at Work 
As employers look for ways to promote mental health in the workplace, more programs and products become available each day. During this session, we’ll highlight an array of options available to employers — from the latest in employee assistance program (EAP) services to awareness and stigma reduction programs to artificial intelligence and gaming options — that will help you tackle the challenges associated with promoting mental health in your organization.

Jenny Haykin, MA, CRC, Integrated Leaves & Accommodations Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy
Michiel Rauws, CEO & Founder, X2AI
B6. Disability and Fitness for Duty in Transgender Employees 
Employees have diverse gender identities and expressions, which may impact their ability to perform the essential functions of their jobs. Both transgender and cisgender employees are at heightened risk of experiencing an inability to perform job functions. During this session, you will be introduced to the concepts of gender identity and gender expression, and the implications of determining ability to perform workplace tasks in employees who may identify as transgender. You’ll explore model transgender employment policies; best practices in the administrative approach to fitness-for-duty evaluations; considerations for disability insurers; and forensic assessments and how they can best take into account gender identity, gender expression, and gender dysphoria. You’ll also learn how to accurately assess impairment and support the workplace performance of employees who identify as transgender.

Brian Hurley, MD, MBA, DFASAM, Contracted Network Provider, PsyBar, LLC
C6. Frisco School District: Leading Leave Compliance in Texas 
Leave management is a challenge for HR managers nationwide. However, for the large and growing school district of Frisco ISD in Texas, there were unique leave management challenges that required a redesign of their processes. With over 8,200 employees distributed over 64 schools, Frisco manages a dispersed workforce in a sector that sees above-average leave requests, all while ensuring there are teachers on the job to instruct the students. During this session, you’ll hear how Frisco made the decision to revamp their leave management with a full review of their policies, best practices, and technology, and you’ll see the extraordinary results in terms of accuracy, efficiency, and compliance. You’ll also gather valuable insights that will help you put your leave management house in order.

Jessica Gilbert, Leave Specialist, Frisco Independent School District
Brenna Rose, Benefits Manager, Frisco Independent School District

David Glickman, CEO, Presagia
D6. Implementation Done Right 
Even the best designed absence management programs can fall short if follow through is lacking. Implementation of new programs and periodic re-implementation of mature programs is critical, yet we often see it overlooked or underestimated. Although it may be one of the most time-consuming aspects of absence management programs, implementation is your opportunity to set the stage for success at a company, manager, and employee level. Implementation done right can lead to easier administration for your organization, increased satisfaction with the process, and higher engagement overall. During this session, we will cover the “ins and outs” of successful program implementation (and re-implementation), including a dive into quantitative and qualitative survey data, specific employer case studies, and a roadmap you can take to move forward.

Misty Harper, Manager, Leave Administration and Accommodations, North America, Business Services Group
Kevin Kelleher, Manager Compensation, Absence Management, and HR Analytics, The University of Vermont Medical Center
Teri Weber, ACI, PMP, Senior Vice President, Spring Consulting Group
E6. Get Explicit About Implicit Bias Using Compassionate Dialogue
No matter how positive our intentions are to be free of prejudice, we all have implicit biases that can have a serious impact on our work and in our organizations. During this session, we will explore the concept of implicit bias and the nuanced behavior that is a product of our unconsciousness. As we engage on this topic, you will have opportunities to reflect upon how your own implicit biases may be impacting your work as well as your personal life. You’ll have the opportunity to interactively practice compassionate communication and learn skills for “interrupting” implicit bias behaviors, internally and interpersonally. We’ll cover how to create action plans that not only address how to become aware about implicit bias, but also actions that interrupt it.

Nancy Dome, EdD, CEO, Epoch Education, Inc.
8:00-11:00 pm Austin Live! 

“Celebrate Good Times…Come On!”
We’re in the homestretch, and there’s no better way to let loose and relax after several busy days of new ideas than to join your fellow conference attendees at our popular Wednesday Night Party. Enjoy one of Austin’s own dance bands along with light refreshments and networking opportunities galore. Come for an hour or stay the whole evening. Everyone’s invited — so come on!

  • Continuous transportation provided
  • Complimentary drink ticket(s) provided at the event
  • Great food, entertainment, networking, and fun

Sponsored by


Thursday | August 9

7:00 am-12:00 pm Registration Open
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast
General Sessions
8:30-9:30 am Ask the Experts: Present and Future Challenges in Our Industry 
Our popular “Ask the Experts” session allows conference attendees to submit their most challenging questions to our panel of distinguished absence and leave management experts. You provide the uncensored questions, and they provide the unfiltered answers. This interactive discussion between attendees and panelists allows audience members to have their “real-world” questions answered by the specialists. Come prepared with your toughest questions and the most perplexing challenges faced by your company. And best of all, there will be no consulting fees incurred!

Bryon Bass, SVP, Disability and Absence Practice & Compliance, Sedgwick
Phil Bruen, Vice President Group Life and Disability Products, MetLife
Teri Weber, ACI, PMP, Senior Vice President, Spring Consulting Group
Michelle C. Jackson, MSW, CLMS, Asst. Vice President Sales Acceleration, Unum

Terri Rhodes, CCMP, CLMS, CPDM, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, DMEC
9:30-9:45 am Coffee & Conversation Break
9:45-10:45 am Paid Parental Leave: A Focus on Fatherhood 
As the national conversation around parental leave continues to grow, attitudes toward fathers taking paternity leave are shifting. Once considered taboo, there is growing acceptance — and even promotion — in many industries of the practice of men and other “secondary caregivers” taking leave after a new child joins the family. However, stigma still exists in many organizations, reflecting the ongoing action needed to continue the evolution of paid parental leave programs.
Join the conversation as we explore paternity leave with several employers of varying sizes and industries. We will highlight the various plans these employers have implemented in their organizations, and their reasons for adoption. From the startling diversity and inclusion statistics for dads taking leave, to humorous experiences with implementing paid leave programs, our employer panel will share a wealth of experience.

Marianna Hegyi, People Team Manager, Limeade
Kimberly Hullander, HR Manager, Duke Energy Corporation
Dan Larsen, VP and Associate Counsel, TOMS Shoes
Tyler Amell, PhD, MSc, BSc, Chief Relationship Officer, CoreHealth Technologies

Kristin Jones, CLMS, PHR, SHRM-CP
10:45-11:45 am A Journey from Disability to Capability: Returning to Work and Removing the Disability Stigma 
Janet Labreck was appointed by Barack Obama in 2013 as Commissioner of the RSA, an organization within the U.S. Department of Education. Janet became completely blind as a child and worked hard to overcome adversity and achieve great success as a disability advocate and D.C. insider, who has played an instrumental role in disability policy. Janet will share her inspirational story, followed by a fireside chat with David Healy of Sun Life Financial who will talk about what it means for someone when they go on disability, and how providers and employers can work together to achieve better return-to-work outcomes and address the stigma of disability.

Janet Labreck, MEd, Former Commissioner of Rehabilitation Services Administration, Owner, Janet L. Labreck Consulting, LLC
David Healy, Senior Vice President, Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial
11:45 am-12:00 pm Closing Remarks and Grand Prize Drawing 

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