Board Spotlight – Anthony Jones

Anthony Jones is the Bright Community Trust, Inc. CEO and President. He is a tireless advocate for public policy in conjunction with community revitalization through affordable housing and land stewardship. Previously, Anthony served in dual roles as the Director of Community Development for Pinellas County, Florida and the Executive Director of the Housing Finance Authority of Pinellas County where he managed housing and neighborhood initiatives. As a public policy advocate, Anthony’s department planned, developed, and implemented neighborhood revitalization, community improvement and housing policy strategies as well as activities that promoted home ownership and rental housing opportunities. Under his leadership, Pinellas County’s programs won national awards. As founding director of Tampa Bay Harvest and the HomeBuyers Club of Tampa Bay, Anthony has also served as a board member of the Pinellas County AIDS Coalition and the Mustard Seed Inn. He is also a director of the Pinellas Community Housing Foundation and is active in the Low-Income Housing Leadership Network.


Anthony understands the close tie between housing and employment; he joined the PolicyWorks Board where he brings his knowledge and experience. Anthony also serves on the Administrative team. His long experience in working with both individuals and communities is extremely helpful to the board as we work to help young people and others with disabilities build independent lives in the community.

First Annual Friends and Partners Dinner

PolicyWorks Board of Directors held the first of many great events with friends and partners on July 27th in Washington D.C. at Georgia Brown’s Restaurant.

This meeting preceded our Annual meeting with great food and discussion. PolicyWorks’ guests included: Railin Rogers, Policy Director for the Association of University Centers on Disability; Michael Morris, Executive Director, National Disability Institute; and Jeanne Argoff, co-founder of PolicyWorks and friends: Harvey McCone, Cal Allen and Scott Buchanan.

Since PolicyWorks is a national organization and these moments we share in person with friends and partners are precious to us and aid us in creating strong national networks needed to move our mission forward.

PolicyWorks Annual Meeting

PolicyWorks held its Annual in Person Meeting at the D.C. offices of the National Disability Institute. Eight of our ten members were present, and we had five staff present with three staff joining us remotely as well. The discussion was focused on revisiting our corporate mission and vision, and developing a two- year plan to bring our vision to life.

Anchors of our current program include, our partnership with the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center at San Diego State sponsored by the Rehabilitation Services Administration. We also work with Florida Atlantic University and Stand Among Friends on our College to Career Transition Program. This program is now being taught at six universities and is being adapted for use with youth who are on the Autism Spectrum at the SOAR summer camp. These two programs served 214 programs during this period and are funded by the Kessler Foundation.

The Board is committed to identifying the resources to continue these programs and services, and to create new strategies that will assist in helping youth and others with disabilities achieve independence through employment. One way we will seek to do this is to continue participating in national policy discussions as well as continuing to develop programs and services that will help individuals achieve this goal.

SOAR Camp 2018

Michelle Rubin and Autism After 21 are both collaborative partners with PolicyWorks and Stand Among Friends. SOAR uses a specially adapted version of our Professional Development and Disabilities curriculum and provides mentoring, career counseling and placement supports under the PolicyWorks Kessler Grant. SOAR plans to continue to use Peer Mentoring as an important part of their program and to continue the partnership with PolicyWorks.

Autism After 21, just completed their 4th annual residential summer camp for young adults with disabilities ages 18-25 and high school students 16-17 years old. SOAR camp spans 6 weeks and is held on the campus and in student housing at Florida Atlantic University. This past SOAR camp served 106 students.

Summer activities included: Living, Career, Soft Skills and Advocacy classes/workshops. Students were provided a Mini IPad for these activities. SOAR also included Peer Mentoring activities in conjunction with Stand Among Friends and PolicyWorks.

Peer Mentoring Pilot Update

PolicyWorks’ role in the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) is to promote the use of Peer Mentoring and to work with states to pilot peer mentoring programs to support self-advocacy and other pre- employment transition services supported by WIOA. Currently there are three operating state pilots. Florida, Alaska and Mississippi have championed the program. Additionally, 11 states are considering developing peer mentoring programs in their states. These states include: Washington, Oklahoma, Michigan, Maine, Missouri, Arkansas, Maryland, Iowa, Virginia, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

PolicyWorks assists states in designing their state program, provides customized training materials for coordinators, mentors and mentee and is developing a national community of practice for states using peer mentoring as a strategy to support youth with disabilities in their effort to become independent through employment.

Reconnecting in D.C.

Washington DC

March was a busy travel month for PolicyWorks staff.  We hosted two events in New York City and one in Boston for Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0, but the core of our travel was to re-connect with partners and colleagues in D.C.

We are very fortunate to have strong relationships with national disability leaders and organizations. We focused on discussion of our Peer Mentoring and WINTAC work and discussed with individuals and groups their ideas about how PolicyWorks could strengthen and move their programs forward as appropriate explored future potential partnerships.

Our visits took us to meet with –

  • Camille Ortiz, Commissioner, Office of Disabilities, Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Jerry Elliott, Rehabilitation Services Administration
  • Bob William, Administration on Community Living (ACL)
  • Michael Murray and the team from the National Institute On Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, NIDILRR
  • Michael Morris and Elizabeth Jennings, National Disability Institute
  • Curtis Richards, Institute on Educational Leadership
  • Andy Imparato, American Association of University Centers on Disability
  • Paula Viellet, My Employment Options

We also met with current and former board members in the DC area, including Rayna Aylward, Kristen Willard and Jeanne Argoff.

Our thanks to all our partners and colleagues. These meetings helped us understand the current environment, the possibilities and unmet needs in the disability community. Thank you for helping us move our current programs forward and explore initiating new ones.