2022 DMEC Annual Conference


Successfully managing integrated, compliant absence and disability programs not only requires a nuanced understanding of local, state, and federal requirements, but a strong focus on continuous improvement and organizational buy-in.

The 2022 DMEC Annual Conference, Aug. 1-4, 2022, in Denver, CO, will offer a one-of-a-kind deep dive into solutions and best practices for the challenges that leave professionals face each day.

Agenda Highlights
  • 29 Education Sessions & Panel Discussions: This year’s event offers best practices and solutions for addressing the employee experience, long COVID, FMLA & ADA challenges, caregiving, and much more.
  • 17 Hours of Networking & Roundtable Discussions: We know you’ve missed face-to-face networking so we’ve built in extra time for connection and conversation with peers, industry experts, and vendor partners.

Monday, Aug. 1

8:30-9:00 am – Welcome & Opening Remarks

Join us as we kick off the conference, look back at DMEC’s 30-year history, and look ahead to the future of absence management.

Kevin Curry, Board Chairman, DMEC
Marcia Carruthers, DMEC Co-Founder
Terri L. Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer, DMEC

9:00-10:00 am – How Agility & Employee Support Help Organizations Respond to Unforeseen Changes

The past two years have demonstrated how quickly seismic shifts can change our daily lives. New workforce pressures require adaptability and resilience to build and support a stronger, more diverse workforce. Employers must prepare for ongoing unforeseen challenges and respond with agility — balancing flexibility and stability for success moving forward. During this session, we’ll share insights for employers to help them navigate evolving workplace dynamics and prepare for the shifts of the future to bolster loyalty, compete for talent, and improve productivity.

Missy Plohr-Memming, Senior Vice President, National Accounts Sales, MetLife
Anthony R. Favry, Vice President, Disability & Absence Product, MetLife

10:00-10:30 am – Coffee & Conversation Break
10:30-11:30 am – Caring for the Caregivers: A Key to Employee Retention

Employees are facing unprecedented caregiving challenges — with more children and elderly parents in the home than at any time in the past 50 years. The resulting stress has accelerated mental health issues, job resignation, work disability, and economic worries. But help is available through community agencies and organizations, consultants, and other resources. Employers who take a proactive approach — bringing problem-solving resources to their employees — can avoid many of these undesirable consequences. In this session, we will describe the problem using current data and real-life scenarios and offer practical solutions that employers can implement immediately.

David Berube, MD, MPH, FACOEM, Chief Medical Officer, Group Protection, Lincoln Financial Group
Kristin Seidman, Senior Product Manager, State Disability and Paid Family Leave, Lincoln Financial Group
Marissa Mayfield, MBA, Senior Product Manager, Lincoln Financial Group

11:30 am-1:00 pm – Lunch on Your Own
1:00-2:00 pm – Long COVID: What We Know Today & Future Considerations for Employers

Long COVID has potentially affected up to 23 million Americans and pushed an estimated one million people out of the workforce. As employers grapple with understanding and managing long COVID in the workplace, DMEC has convened a think tank of experts to weigh in and provide solutions for this complex topic. During this session, we will share the work that has been completed by the think tank thus far and gather feedback and questions from the audience that will help shape a white paper on the topic. We will also provide a definition of long COVID, explore the spectrum between acute COVID and long COVID, and discuss the challenges it is creating for absence management teams, return-to-work programs, and ADA accommodation processes. Come prepared with your questions and input on this important topic!

Terri L. Rhodes, CEO, DMEC
Bryon Bass, BS, CLMS, SVP Workforce Absence, Sedgwick

2:00-2:30 pm – Coffee & Conversation Break
2:30-3:30 pm – Look Inward: Supporting HR Teams to Better Support Your Organization

Your human resources team has been in emergency mode for more than two years. Overtasked with managing the realities of COVID-19 within your organization, they have had a front seat to a number workplace issues — from layoffs to employee illness and death to changes in policies and procedures. Many have also been tasked with the responsibility for staying up to date on ever-changing local, state, and federal rules and regulations. All this has translated into added stress with no real end in sight. What can you do to support the mental health of HR practitioners in your organization who have been engaged with the hardest work they will likely ever do? In this session, we’ll explore simple solutions to help them regroup, heal, and recover.

Rachel Shaw, President, Shaw HR Consulting

3:30-4:30 pm – Creating a Practical Pathway to Impactful DEI

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have grabbed the attention of virtually all organizations. While professionals recognize how truly impactful DEI is to business success and the success of those within our organizations, how many really understand what it means and how to move the needle? During this session, our panel of absence management professionals will discuss their own organizations’ unique journeys with DEI — from how they approached initiatives and the efforts put in place, to how they communicated and measured outcomes. We will explore DEI as a whole as well as within the framework of absence and disability management programs. You’ll hear from large employers who have pioneered these efforts and helped pave the way for innovation as well as smaller organizations that have made impactful moves with a modest budget. We’ll explore a general path any organization — large or small — can take to examine and improve their own DEI initiatives.

4:30-5:00 pm – Break
5:00-6:00 pm – First-Time Attendee Orientation

First-time attendees can join us for a chance to network with other attendees and get an overview of what to expect at this year’s conference.

6:00-8:00 pm – Opening Welcome Reception

Kick off your 2022 DMEC Annual Conference experience with a chance to connect with old friends and fellow attendees at the opening welcome reception. Everyone is invited to join the festivities for a special evening of great food and fun.

Tuesday, Aug. 2

7:00-8:00 am – Breakfast with Exhibitors
8:00-8:15 am – Announcements & Awards
8:15-9:15 am – Keynote Session: Brilliantly Resilient – Reset, Rise, and Reveal Your Brilliance After Life’s Sucker Punches

Resilience has never been so essential to human survival and success. But resilience is just the beginning. Challenges can help us uncover inherent resilience and discover our unique brilliance — the gift we are meant to share with the world. When individuals recognize their unique brilliance, they can create powerful teams and communities — allowing everyone to do what they do best so “all ships can rise.” By examining perception, identifying inherent strengths and transferable skills, and taking imperfect action in challenges, you will discover practical strategies to help teams overcome anxiety, action-avoidance, overwhelm, and frustration. As we bring our best selves to every situation, building strength as individuals and leading our teams and communities to do the same, we are more than resilient, we are brilliantly resilient!

Mary Fran Bontempo, Brilliantly Resilient
Kristin Smedley, Brilliantly Resilient

9:15-10:00 am – Coffee & Conversation Break with Exhibitors
10:00-11:00 am – A View from the Top: Current FMLA and ADA Challenges

Employers are facing a variety of issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In this session, we will interview Helen Applewhaite, Director, FMLA Division, U.S. Department of Labor, and Jeanne Goldberg, Senior Attorney Advisor, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about current employer challenges under these laws as well as key DOL and EEOC priorities. We’ll review the interplay between FMLA and ADA leaves of absence, job protection rights, scheduling and overtime issues, questionable medical documentation, long-term impacts of the COVID pandemic on FMLA and ADA rights, and much more. Come prepared with your questions for these federal agency leaders!

Marti Cardi, Esq., Vice President – Product Compliance, Matrix Absence Management, Inc.
Marjory Robertson, JD, AVP & Senior Counsel, Sun Life U.S.
Helen Applewhaite, Director, FMLA Division, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor
Rita Byrnes Kittle, JD, Supervisory Trial Attorney, Denver Field Office, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

11:00 am-12:00 pm – Join the Tour: Addressing & Administering Leave Requests and Benefits Across Multiple States

There are many challenges associated with addressing and administering employee leaves and benefits across multiple states. Continuously evolving regulations can add to these complexities. A multi-state employer must consider each state’s laws, even when an employee is experiencing the same or similar situation. This includes sending the appropriate communications and notices to the employee, based on what each state requires. Using employee examples that involve leave requests and benefits for scenarios such as a pregnancy, a need to take care of a family member, and organ donation, we will look at how requirements can differ among various locations and leave laws, and we’ll share tips and tools for staying in compliance.

Bridget Caswell, JD, Director Product Compliance and Statutory Administration,Sedgwick
Adam Morell, JD, Assistant Vice President, Product Compliance, Sedgwick

12:00-1:30 pm – Lunch with Exhibitors
1:30-2:30 pm – Concurrent Sessions

Insights Into the New Way of Working
The pandemic has shifted our work cultures, and employers have been challenged with rethinking employee management, planning, and support. In this panel discussion, we will explore innovative work trends and policies that employers are adopting to help care for their unique employee populations. We will discuss how changes in the way we work are pushing employers to find a balance between the past and the present ways of working.

Rachel Wesley, MEd, CRC, LCMHC, CEAS, Director Clinical & Vocational Services, Prudential

Amy Cao, MD, VP & Medical Director, Expert Resources
Tori Weeks, CEAS, Regional Director, Health and Productivity Analytics & Consulting Practice
Lisa Campbell, MS, CRC, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Expert Resources
Kenneth Hallden, Vice President, Disability Claims, Group Insurance

Beat the Clock: 20 Leave Management Topics in 60 Minutes
Those 1,000-piece puzzles can be challenging, but they are great family fun on a rainy day. The puzzle that constantly challenges many employers, however, is leave. Fitting together all the pieces in an ever-changing leave landscape — federal, state, and local laws along with company programs — is not getting easier. In this session, we’ll break down 20 of the hottest leave topics in a fast-paced, interactive format.

Dana MacKinnon, JD, Vice President, Relationship Management Strategy, The Hartford
John Robinson, Assistant Director of Absence Solutions, The Hartford
Alicia Heine, Assistant Director of Product Development, The Hartford
Meghan Pistritto, Assistance Vice President of Product Management, The Hartford
Karen Raftery, Regional Vice President, Central Region, The Hartford

Deep Dive on Paid Leave
Without a national paid family and medical leave (PFML) program passing this year, employers will need to upskill their leave knowledge in response to new PFML laws and an increasingly remote workforce — both of which change an organization’s geographic footprint and compliance obligations. In 2022, Maryland and Delaware adopted PFML laws that, when implemented, will make them the 10th and 11th states to provide employees with PFML benefits. While the two laws are similar, they are maddeningly different — both in relation to each other and previously adopted PFML laws. In this session, we will explore these similarities and differences as well as other state developments in Virginia, New Mexico, Maine, Washington state, and Washington, D.C. We’ll also review expanding company-sponsored paid parental leave programs and gender discrimination issues those programs need to avoid.

Marjory Robertson, JD, AVP & Senior Counsel, Sun Life U.S.

Unleash Your Data for a Successful Program Implementation
When implementing an insourced or outsourced leaved program, one of the first and most critical steps is to identify required data and exchanges. Data is key for effectively managing eligibility, entitlement, pay practices, workflow processes, and reporting. In this session, we’ll explore how to design a successful data strategy and avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.

Seth Turner, MBA, Chief Strategy Officer, AbsenceSoft
Kelly Wells, Chief Customer Officer, AbsenceSoft

2:30-3:15 pm – Dessert with Exhibitors
3:15-4:15 pm – Concurrent Sessions

Is FTO the New PTO?
With a larger-than-ever remote workforce and the “wandering worker” changing workforce geography, many companies are rethinking their paid time off programs. Flexible time off (FTO) is a more refined version of unlimited time off — with more flexibility than a traditional PTO plan, but with stipulations such as minimum time off requirements that incentivize taking time. In this session, we’ll review how one company saw a gap in their leave program and designed an FTO program with an eye toward balancing flexibility, productivity, accountability, and compliance.

Teri Weber, MBA, PMP, GBA, ACI, Senior Vice President, Spring Consulting Group

A Window Into CT PFML: The Process and Complexities of Implementing a State Paid Family Leave
In this session, we will discuss the challenges for states implementing paid family and medical leave programs from the ground up and how those challenges impact insurers, third-party administrators, and employers. The CEO of the Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Authority will join us to talk about how they tackled each decision point, what they were able to learn from the experiences in other states, and how they integrated feedback from stakeholders into the final process. Join us for a fascinating window into what goes on behind the curtain during the implementation process.

Angie Brown, CPDM, Sales Director, Absence Practice Leader, Majesco
Lynne Sousa, JD, Senior Absence Management and Compliance Counsel, Majesco
Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO, CT Authority
Alice Cotti, VP, Government Segment Business Solutions, Aflac, Premier Life, Absence & Disability Solutions

Harnessing HR Technology to Simplify the Leave Process for Employees and the HR Team
The leave process can be overwhelming and confusing for employees, but a well-designed decision support technology tool can create a better user experience and ensure constant and accurate information is provided. In this session, we will explore emerging HR technologies that are available to help simplify the leave process. We will also present an employer case study illustrating how decision support technology enhanced the employee experience.

Patty Borst, National Practice Leader Total Absence Management, The Partners Group
Amanda Neely, PHR, SHRM-CP, Director of Sales & Business Development Leave, Unum Solutions | LeaveLogic

A Practical Guide to ADA Accommodations and Changes in the Guidance
The pandemic changed the way many employees do their work, and with it, the way the ADA applies to employees. While the law may not have changed, its guidance and the workplace have significantly altered the way employers engage in their analysis and the interactive process. In this session, we’ll review legal developments since the pandemic began and walk through best practices for administering the ADA accommodation process.

Matt Morris, JD, Vice President, FMLASource, ComPsych Corporation
Richard J. Mrizek, JD, Counsel, Jackson Lewis PC

4:15-4:30 pm – Break
4:30-5:30 pm – Roundtable Discussions

Join your peers and industry experts for small-group discussions on hot topics in the industry. Share challenges, opportunities, and best practices from your organization. Discussion topics will be released prior to the start of the conference.

Long COVID at Work
Understanding and managing long COVID in the workplace is a unique challenge for employers as the data and available information changes rapidly. This conversation — facilitated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) — will feature a dynamic discussion around ways to support and accommodate employees with long COVID. With insights from ODEP’s “Employer Guide to Long COVID” and DMEC’s preliminary findings from the Long COVID Think Tank as a starting point, you will have the opportunity to share your organization’s experiences, highlight gaps that need to be addressed, and identify needed resources and tools.

Taryn Williams, Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy
Louis Orslene, MPIA, MSW, Director of the Employer and Workplace Policy Team, Office of Disability Employment Policy
Susanne Bruyère, PhD, Director of the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, Cornell

All Things FMLA
Despite being a cornerstone of many absence management programs, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continues to challenge employers. Join this conversation to discuss all things FMLA. Whether you’re looking to crowdsource ideas for your own perplexing issue or seeking the opportunity to hear best practices around program administration, this discussion will have it all!

Marti Cardi, Esq., Vice President – Product Compliance, Matrix Absence Management, Inc.

Exploring the ADA
Navigating a compassionate and compliant Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) program can be perplexing to even the most seasoned absence management professional. Participate in this conversation and share in a lively discussion around ADA program management. Bring your biggest challenge, your most impressive best practice, or your most pressing question — it’s all fair game!

Matt Morris, Vice President, FMLASource, ComPsych Corporation
Richard J. Mrizek, JD, Counsel, Jackson Lewis PC

Navigating the Patchwork of Paid Leave Laws
Navigating statutory paid leave compliance continues to increase in complexity as new state and local laws spring up. During this conversation, share your organization’s unique approaches to paid leave, explore solutions to complex issues, and swap best practices. Whether your organization operates in one state or many, you’ll find answers to your paid leave law challenges.

Bridget Caswell, JD, Director Product Compliance and Statutory Administration, Sedgwick
Adam Morell, JD, Assistant Vice President, Product Compliance, Sedgwick

5:30-6:30 pm – Happy Hour with Exhibitors

Come mingle and relax with attendees and exhibitors after a full day of sessions. Enjoy complimentary drinks and nibbles during happy hour.

Wednesday, Aug. 3

7:00-8:00 am – Breakfast with Exhibitors
8:00-8:15 am – Announcements & Awards
8:15-9:15 am – Recent ADA and FMLA Trials: Employer Wins and Losses

Hundreds of court decisions interpreting employer obligations under the ADA and the FMLA are decided each year — including frequent large jury verdicts and settlements of ADA and FMLA claims. In this session, we’ll share important lessons learned from recent lawsuits as well as dos and don’ts with regard to ADA/FMLA compliance challenges. You’ll have the chance to participate via interactive polling to predict the jury outcomes and learn what makes courts and juries sympathetic to employers and what does not. And we’ll cover tips to avoid liability and improve your policies, practices, and processes for handling FMLA requests and ADA accommodation issues.

Megan Holstein, JD, SVP Absence & Claims, FINEOS
Marjory Robertson, JD, AVP & Senior Counsel, Sun Life U.S.

9:15-10:00 am – Coffee & Conversation Break with Exhibitors
10:00-11:00 am – Law & Order: DMEC Edition

“In the disability and absence-based arena, FMLA offenses are considered particularly heinous.” Join us as a “jury member” for a mock trial based on the popular TV series “Law & Order.” We will take the roles of judge, plaintiff, defense and plaintiff’s attorneys as we stage a trial based on cases that have tripped up employers in the real world and resulted in litigation. You’ll join the jury with other attendees and give us your “verdict” based on the evidence presented to you.

Sheri Pullen, Senior Compliance Manager, ReedGroup
Carla OSullivan, Senior Compliance Manager, ReedGroup
Katarina Niparko, Esq, CLMS, Compliance Counsel, ReedGroup
Garlande Patz, Channel Director, Absence Management, Guardian

11:00 am-12:00 pm – Leave Is Changing: Are You Changing With It?

For years, leave and absence management has been viewed through the lens of minimizing business impact and lost productivity. The market has shifted significantly over the past decade. Today’s workers expect their employers to allow time off to care for themselves and their families. Yesterday’s leave programs don’t work for today’s workers. Untethered through technology, younger workers are seeking the ability to get work done wherever and whenever they want to. Laws are changing, and many of the leaves are guaranteed under the law — making leave a complex challenge for employers. In this session, we’ll discuss four key essentials when thinking about a future-forward leave management program. As leave gets more complicated and more important, it is important to recognize that one size does not fit all when it comes to a leave strategy. Learn how to choose a strategy that will last.

Michelle Jackson, MSW, Assistant Vice President, Unum
Ellen McCann, Assistant Vice President, Unum

12:00-1:30 pm – Lunch with Exhibitors
1:30-2:30 pm – Concurrent Sessions

Costs of Care: The Impact of Stress and Compassion Fatigue on Healthcare Workers
Prior to the pandemic, mental health and substance-use conditions were a significant concern in the healthcare sector. Having been consistently on the front lines, increased stress associated with the pandemic has compounded these issues for healthcare workers. High rates of overwork and burnout, increased physical risk of getting sick from being in close contact with COVID-positive patients, and compassion fatigue are leading to a potential surge in turnover in the healthcare industry. Through data and case study examples, we’ll discuss approaches to support healthcare workers that can help reduce the toll of these conditions.

Dan Jolivet, PhD, Workplace Possibilities Practice Consultant, The Standard

Experience Matters: What Employers Need to Know about Return to Work
Ensuring an organization stays compliant with leave laws is only one aspect of leave management. Making sure it’s a good experience for employees — both while they’re on leave and when they return — is equally important. In this session, we’ll share recent research related to the employee leave experience and offer actionable insights that can be used to help enhance other leave management and return-to-work programs.

Steve McGonagle, AVP Leave Management, Voya Financial
Norine Wilcox, Sr. Product Manager, Voya Financial
Katie Hunt, Director, Claims, FullscopeRMS

Take the Intimidation Out of Innovation. Considerations for Deploying Leave of Absence Software in Your Organization
Advances in cloud-based technology have opened the door for employers to access leading leave administration platforms — historically only available to insurers and third-party administrators. Competition in software-as-a-solution (SaaS) continues to drive innovation and is a key differentiator among service providers in the market. Effectively evaluating the market starts with the ability to clearly understand and articulate organizational requirements to potential service providers, and success hinges on selecting the right partner and prioritizing implementation among stakeholders and business partners. In this session, we’ll explore best practices and lessons learned in selecting and implementing a SaaS-based solution.

Kim Stattner, Senior Consultant, Marsh McLennan Agency, Absence, Disability & Life
Tami Myers, SHRM-CP, Senior HR Manager – Absence Management/HR Shared Services, CVS Health
Angie Walton, System VP, HR Employee Services, CommonSpirit Health

Career Development with Work/Life Balance
It is possible to build your career while maintaining work/life balance. In this session, we’ll explore how to prepare for your future and what decisions will be involved. We’ll also discuss practical tips and approaches through the lens of a personal story that includes building an integrated absence management career while juggling single parenthood and caring for a disabled elderly parent.

Jenny Haykin, MA, CRC, Integrated Leaves & Accommodations Program Manager, Puget Sound Energy

2:30-3:15 pm – Dessert with Exhibitors
3:15-4:15 pm – Concurrent Sessions

Reimagine Your On-site Clinics: Creating a Targeted Population Health Strategy
For employers that have invested in onsite clinics to improve workforce health and productivity outcomes, access has become an increasingly complex topic — especially during the pandemic and with the growth of remote work. UPMC onsite clinics had to rapidly pivot to a 100% virtual care model, revealing the opportunity to reimagine how onsite clinic staff can help address some of our toughest workforce challenges. During this session, we’ll share how integrated analytics with predictive modeling helped us to identify target subpopulations for early intervention and how a total population health approach allowed better integration across the entire spectrum of short-term disability, leave, workers compensation, wellness, care management, and advocacy.

Kristin Hasley, MHPE, Sr. Director, Health and Productivity Integration, UPMC
Maria Henderson, MS, CDMS, VP, Workforce Health Strategy & Innovation, UPMC

Improving the Employee Leave Experience through Technology
While employers provide benefits and wellness programs with the goal of improving employee satisfaction, the complexity of using such benefits often adds to the stress on an employee’s experience. In this session, we’ll walk through three examples of how employers can adopt technology to improve the leave experience — including implementing APIs between the disability vendor and an employer’s downstream systems benefit programs to streamline the burden on the employee; technology that supports electronic voice authorizations to expedite the collection of medical documentation; and integrated reporting tools that help employers identify opportunities for wellness programs.

Allison Morgan, Sr. Sales Executive, FINEOS
Charles Price, Product Manager – IDAM, FINEOS
Dr. Deborah L. LaBonar, PhD, Vice President, Aon

How Collaboration & Automation Software Can Help with Case Management
Collaboration and automation tools can simplify and facilitate case management tasks — streamlining processes for leave management professionals. In this session, we’ll explore simple solutions including Microsoft Teams, automated chat messages, bots, video conferencing, and more to help you gather information from employees, capture intermittent time off, send reminders, and automate payroll interfaces. Whether you’re insourced, cosourced, or outsourced, these simple solutions can save time and money and create a better experience for your employees.

Bill B. Cornfield, CPA, President, WSG Systems Corp

No More Parental Leave Headaches: A Step-by-Step Process for Employers
For many managers, organizations, and especially expecting parents, parental leave can be a frustrating experience that feels like wandering in the forest with no map. Beyond the myriad of state, federal, and company-level programs to navigate, employers can feel lost understanding how they should manage the practical and emotional elements of this major transition in their employees work and personal life. In this session, we’ll review ten critical touchpoints to navigate effectively as expecting parents prepare for leave, move through leave, and return to work in an engaged and sustainable way. We’ll also showcase an evidence-based parental leave coaching model and support framework, developed by leading workplace psychologists, to harness parental leave as a leadership development and personal growth opportunity. When done well, this transition can be a transformative experience for all involved, which is necessary to retain talent and build an inclusive workplace for working parents.

Amy Beacom, EdD, Founder and CEO, Center for Parental Leave Leadership

4:30-5:30 pm – Roundtable Discussions & Bonus Session

Roundtable Discussions
Join your peers and industry experts for small-group discussions on hot topics in the industry. Share challenges, opportunities, and best practices from your organization. Discussion topics will be released prior to the start of the conference.

Leveling Up Your Absence Program Strategy
Is your organization taking a critical look at your overall program strategy? We’ve got you covered! This conversation — focused on evaluating the policies, processes, and procedures — will allow you to network and share ideas around future-proofing your absence management program. Whether you’re considering a total program overhaul or just hoping to get a few new ideas, you are sure to leave with takeaways to improve the strategic operation of your own absence program.

Patricia Borst, National Practice Leader, Disability and Absence Management, The Partners Group

Staying Abreast of Technology Trends
Technology solutions are constantly evolving, making it easy to fall behind on the latest offerings. This conversation will center on all things technology — whether it’s exploring offerings and onboarding a new solution, understanding how peers are utilizing technology to support their program, or learning about the newest tools and features — it’s all on the table here! If technology is top of mind for your organization, this discussion is where you want to be.

Lori Welty, Senior Product Compliance Attorney, FINEOS
Christy Traupe, Product Manager, FINEOS

Critical Considerations for Mental Health & the Employee Experience
Employee mental health has never been as critical as it is now. As employers search for new and innovative ways to engage employees, provide the best possible experience at work, and support their employees’ whole selves, they are turning to their absence management professionals for guidance. From the variety and quality of the benefit offerings to the user experience, adequate mental health support is a top consideration for organizations of all sizes and industry. In this conversation, share your organization’s experience, solicit best practices, and find out what your peers are doing to offer a best-in-class mental health experience to their employees.

Daniel N. Jolivet, Ph.D., Workplace Possibilities Practice Consultant, The Standard

Paid Parental & Paid Family Leave: Designing and Implementing for Success
More employers are considering implementing a paid parental or paid family leave program — especially as more states continue to implement these programs.  Some, on the other hand, are seeking to evolve their current program. Given the complexity of running these programs and the differing state laws, it’s easy to get lost in the mix.In this session, we will discuss the key factors to consider when choosing between a paid parental plan or paid family leave program. We’ll also share best practices that will set your organization up for success.

Nadeema Dil, MBA, CLMS, Sr. Account Executive, Crawford TPA: Broadspire
Danielle Rainone, First Vice President – Consultant, American Benefits Consulting, An Alliant Insurance Service Company

Closing Night Event

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 event. Enjoy great food, drinks, and entertainment!

Thursday, Aug. 4

7:30-8:30 am – Breakfast

8:30-9:30 am – Working Together to Cross the Finish Line

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping people. As individuals and as a society, we need to think differently about goal setting and goal achievement. And we need to consider how to complement societal programs designed for the average person with customized approaches tailored to the unique needs and aspirations of every individual. In this session, we’ll share a unique program designed to help wounded veterans and people with disabilities achieve or even surpass their goals to return to health and productivity. Through the program, able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners come together to train in an environment of support and community gaining physical strength, emotional support, and building confidence through their sense of accomplishment, which often transfers to other parts of their life.

Deborah Wing, MA, Head of Marketing, New York Life Group Benefit Solutions
Tammi Beason, Supervisor, Leave & HR Operations, Northside Hospital
Gary Godin, Product Strategy Principal, New York Life Group Benefit Solutions
Ryan Bruce, M.Ed., CRC, SPHR, Director, Vocational Services, New York Life Group Benefit Solutions
Michael Anderson, Vice President, Regional Operations, Achilles International

9:30-9:45 am – Coffee & Conversation
9:45-10:45 am – Life Beyond COVID: New Focuses for Absence & Disability Compliance

The workplace is forever changed as a result of the significant events of 2020 and 2021. But how is that impacting absence and disability compliance efforts? In this session, we will explore the long-lasting impact of new leave legislation, discuss emerging case law that will impact workplace decisions on leave and accommodation, and review the general state of the workplace including representation impacts. We’ll also offer insights into HR and benefits considerations that are driving programmatic changes for absence and disability programs.

Sheri Giger, JD, Principal, Jackson Lewis
Joseph J. Lynett, JD, Principal, Jackson Lewis

10:45-11:45 am – Use the Force: How to Harness Market Forces to Meet Future Absence Management Challenges

What do Instagram, the gig economy, and federal paid leave have in common? They’re all market forces impacting absence management. Add in the light-speed pace of changing laws and regulations plus federal paid leave, and one must be a Jedi to navigate it all. Organizations are confronting a more holistic life experience for employees, as caregiving, financial benefits, and flexibility move from employee concerns to workplace benefit expectations. Additionally, employers need to understand the impact of more employees embracing gig and contract work, flexible work, and the hybrid workplace. In this session, we’ll share how to use these market forces to meet the future challenges of the dynamic integrated disability, absence, and accommodations reality and how to focus on constant improvement of your day-to-day administration of disability, absence, and accommodations.

Teri Weber, Senior Vice President, Spring Consulting Group, LLC
Kimberly Mashburn, RN, CLMS, SVP Market Development, Brown & Brown Absence Services Group
Kristina Welke, Head of Product, New York Life Insurance Company
Megan Holstein, EVP Absence & Claims, FINEOS

11:45-12:00 pm – Closing Remarks & Grand Prize Giveaway