Podcast Moderator

Michael Morris, J.D.
Senior Advisor, Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University

Michael Morris - Professional Photo
Michael Morris

Michael Morris, JD serves as a Senior Advisor to the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. He received his undergraduate degree in political science with honors from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and his law degree from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He serves as a subject matter expert on employment, economic advancement, financial inclusion and poverty reduction concerning youth and adults with disabilities to the FDIC, OCC, FRB, IRS and US Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services. He was the first Kennedy Foundation Public Policy Fellow and worked in the office of Senator Lowell Weicker (CT).

In 2020, Mr. Morris was awarded the Ketchum Prize by the FINRA Foundation for his extraordinary leadership in creating a better economic future for people with disabilities through advocacy, research and education.

In 2021, Mr. Morris was part of a team of researchers at Syracuse, Rutgers and Harvard Universities to be awarded funding from National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research to establish the Disability Inclusive Employment Policy Rehabilitation Research and Training Center.


Peter Blanck, Ph.D., J.D.,
Chairman of Burton Blatt Institute, University Professor at Syracuse University and Principal Investigator Disability Inclusive Employment Policy Rehabilitation Research and Training Center

Peter Blanck Professional Photo
Peter Blanck

Dr. Blanck is University Professor at Syracuse University, which is the highest faculty rank, granted to eight prior individuals in the history of the University. He is Chairman of the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University. He is the Principal Investigator for the Disability Inclusive Employment Policy Rehabilitation Research and Training Center funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

Blanck received a Juris Doctor from Stanford University, where he was President of the Stanford Law Review, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Harvard University.
He has written articles and books on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related laws, and received grants to study disability law and policy. Blanck is Chairman of the Global Universal Design Commission (GUDC). He is a former member of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Prior to teaching, Blanck practiced law at the Washington, DC firm Covington & Burling, and served as law clerk to the late Honorable Carl McGowan of the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Taryn Williams
Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, Office of Disability Employment Policy, US Department of Labor

Taryn Williams
Taryn Williams

Taryn Mackenzie Williams is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy. In this position, she advises the Secretary of Labor on how the Department’s policies and programs impact the employment of people with disabilities and leads the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Previously, Williams was the managing director for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at American Progress, which works on progressive policies focused on a broad range of anti-poverty strategies. Before joining American Progress, she worked at ODEP on a variety of issues related to education, workforce policy, Social Security, Medicaid, and civil rights. Prior to joining the federal government, Williams worked as the research coordinator for leadership programs at the Institute for Educational Leadership and as the director of programs at the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues headquartered in Chicago. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown University and a master’s degree in education with a concentration in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University.

Nicole Maestas,
Economist and Associate Professor, Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School; and Research Associate and Director, Retirement and Disability Research Center, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nicole Maestas
Nicole Maestas

Nicole Maestas, Ph.D. is an economist and associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), where she directs the NBER’s Retirement and Disability Research Center. Her research investigates work capacity and employment among older individuals and people with disabilities, working conditions in the American labor force, social insurance programs such as SSDI, SSI, Medicaid and Medicare, and the causes and consequences of the opioid epidemic.

Rebecca Cokley,
U.S. Disability Rights Program Officer, Ford Foundation

Rebecca Cokley
Rebecca Cokley

Rebecca Cokley is the U.S. Disability Rights program officer at the Ford Foundation. She previously served as the Co-Founder/Director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress. A three-time Presidential appointee, Rebecca has spent her career bringing the disability community together with the progressive movement, and bringing the progressive community to the table on disability rights with the goal of strengthening both causes. She is the 2020 Richman Distinguished Fellow in Public Life for Brandeis University and has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California Santa Cruz. Rebecca is currently working on her first of two books.

Doug Kruse,
Distinguished Professor, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University

Doug Kruse - DIEP RRTC
Doug Kruse

Douglas Kruse is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (Cambridge, MA), and a Research Fellow at the IZA Institute for the Study of Labor (Bonn, Germany).
Dr. Kruse served as Senior Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers in 2013-2014. He received an M.A. in Economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. His research has focused on the employment and earnings effects of disability, and the causes, consequences, and implications of employee ownership and profit sharing.

His most recent co-authored books are How Did Employee Ownership Firms Weather the Past Two Recessions? (W.E. Upjohn Institute Press), The Citizen’s Share: Reducing Inequality in the 21st Century (Yale University Press), People with Disabilities: Sidelined or Mainstreamed? (Cambridge University Press), and Shared Capitalism at Work (University of Chicago Press). His book Profit Sharing: Does It Make A Difference? won Princeton University’s Richard A. Lester prize as the year’s Outstanding Book in Labor Economics and Industrial Relations.

Debra Ruh,
CEO and Founder, Ruh Global IMPACT

Debra Ruh
Debra Ruh

Debra Ruh is a global disability inclusion strategist, futurist, innovator, technologist, market influencer, internationally recognized keynote speaker, published author, branding expert, and entrepreneur.

Debra is the host of a popular program: Human Potential at Work (Audience in 92 countries and 113 Regions). Proud to be the founder and CEO of Ruh Global IMPACT and the Co-founder and Executive Chair of Billion Strong.

Debra worked in the banking and financial industries at an executive level for 25 years. In early, 2000 she created her first technology company, TecAccess, focused on digital inclusion, and accessibility. TecAccess became a top award-winning firm, with the majority of staff being technologists with disabilities.

Debra convinced that “the real disability is being unable to see human potential” formed Ruh Global IMPACT in early 2013. This social enterprise and think tank focused on Global Disability Inclusion Strategies, Digital Marketing, and Branding among many other services. In 2021, Debra and Ruh Global IMPACT founded, a global nonprofit called Billion Strong (www.Billion-Strong.org) to focus on global disability identity and empowerment.

Debra is an author of three books, Inclusion Branding (available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Voice via Audible), Tapping into Hidden Human Capital, and Finding Your Voice Using Social Media. https://tiny.cc/DebraRuh or www.RuhGlobal.com.

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