Cheryl Mitchell has spent over 15 years focused on furthering public policies that promote the socioeconomic empowerment of individuals with disabilities, seniors, and other underserved populations. She has extensive experience in designing and implementing programs and working effectively with consumers, community and business leaders, and government officials. She is currently the Director of User Research and Services for The AbleGamers Charity, a non-profit organization advocating to enable play to combat social isolation, foster inclusive communities, and to improve the lives of people with disabilities through the power of video gaming. She manages projects aimed at connecting players with disabilities to the game industry, working with game developers to address accessible game design and testing games for accessibility.
From 2019-2020, she served as a Project Manager for several federal initiatives sponsored by the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy. Since 2019, Cheryl managed the implementation of the National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network (NEON) initiative involving five national provider organizations aimed at increasing competitive integrated employment (CIE) for people with disabilities. From 2012-2018, she managed the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP), an innovative technical assistance (TA) program supporting state governments to implement systems-change efforts while adopting Employment First principles, an approach that urged publicly-financed systems to align policies, service delivery practices, and reimbursement structures to commit to CIE as the priority option for individuals with significant disabilities. In this capacity, Cheryl collaborated with a contract team of 40 SMEs to (a) work with states in designing and implementing a TA plan to support Employment First systems change goals, and evaluating the impact of the TA provided; (b) develop a virtual Community of Practice for convening state officials, providers and consumers to identify, share, and learn about promising practices and innovative approaches for furthering Employment First systems change goals nationwide; and (c) provide strategic consulting and advice to state officials on the development of policy reforms, design of innovative payment methodologies for employment-related and wrap-around supports, and establishment of capacity-building activities to bring to scale promising practices among direct support professionals assisting individuals with disabilities in reaching their employment goals.
Prior to managing ODEP’s contracts, Cheryl managed the Federal Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) and provided program support on several task orders with the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the Social Security Administration. While working with the ICDR, she led the Subcommittee on Employment in organizing numerous events including two successful Federal Summits: (1) Employer Perspectives on Workers with Disabilities: A National Summit to Develop a Research Agenda; and (2) Strengthening the Intersection of Demand-Side and Supply-Side Disability Employment Research: Toward a Coordinated Research Agenda. Cheryl completed a B.A. in Communication at the University of New Hampshire and has taken graduate coursework in Rehabilitation Counseling. She previously served as a Board Member to The AbleGamers Charity from 2012 to February 2021.