Who We Are
Work Without Limits is an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Disability, Health and Employment Policy Unit, whose mission is to create solutions that maximize employment opportunities and improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities served by public programs.
Since its inception in 2009, Work Without Limits has worked alongside a multitude of stakeholders including employers, employment service providers, state agencies, individuals with disabilities, and family members to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Employers and businesses become members of Work Without Limits through the Massachusetts Business Leadership Network (MABLN). Community based organizations and state agencies become partners through formal memorandums of understanding that support a mutually beneficial and collaborative relationship, and optimize employment programs, services and outcomes for those who are seeking them.
Work Without Limits also provides training, consulting and capacity building services to
employers and businesses as well as employment service providers and state agencies. Through our BenePLAN program, we support individuals with disabilities to move toward their employment goals by providing information on how working and earning or increasing wages will affect public benefits such as SSI or SSDI, Medicaid and Medicare, subsidized housing, TANF, SNAP and others.
In 2008 and in partnership with key stakeholders and members of Massachusetts state government, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, funded by the federal Medicaid Infrastructure and Comprehensive Employment Opportunities grant, undertook a broad-based strategic planning effort to create a plan to maximize employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Massachusetts and to address the many challenges that contribute to unemployment and under-employment of people with disabilities. One of the results of this process was the creation of Work Without Limits.
In anticipation of the end of the federal funding in 2012, the team at UMass Medical School developed a plan to continue the programs and services of Work Without Limits. Much had been accomplished under the grant yet the employment rates still lagged greatly – we were not done yet! Fueled by a strategic business development plan and the unwavering support of the medical school and our
twelve founding corporate sponsors, we transitioned from a sole source of government funding to a diversified portfolio of revenue that provides a solid foundation for WWL to continue toward achieving its goal.
Meet Our Staff
Click name to expand biography.
Alexis Henry, Director, Disability, Health and Employment Policy Unit
Alexis Henry, Sc.D. is Director of the Disability, Health and Employment Policy (DHEP) Unit at the Center for Health Policy and Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and has over 30 years of experience in the disability field as a provider, educator, and researcher. As Director of the DHEP Unit, Dr. Henry leads a team of research and program staff concerned with the impact of health and social policies, services and supports on the lives of people with disabilities. Through its research and services divisions, the DHEP Unit works to create solutions to maximize employment opportunities and to improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities, with a focus on those served by public programs. Dr. Henry is author or co-author of over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, books and book chapters. Prior to joining UMass Medical School’s Center for Health Policy and Research, Dr. Henry served as Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at Boston University’s College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and was Director of the Rehabilitation Research Core at the UMass Medical School’s Center for Mental Health Services Research. Dr. Henry is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UMass Medical School. She earned her doctoral degree in therapeutic studies, as well as a master’s degree, at Boston University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Tufts University.
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Kathleen A. Petkauskos, Director, Work Without Limits
Kathleen A. Petkauskos, A.S., is Associate Director of the Disability, Health and Employment Policy (DHEP) Unit at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Director of Work Without Limits. In her role, Ms. Petkauskos directs and manages all services, activities, and initiatives within the DHEP Services Division which includes the Work Without Limits and BenePLAN programs. Ms. Petkauskos is responsible for the development and execution of the division’s strategic business plan, oversight of staff and consultants, delivery of services, and customer satisfaction. Ms. Petkauskos has been with UMass Medical School since 2008 where she began as Project Director. Kathleen has over twenty years of experience delivering and managing vocational evaluation, supported employment, work incentives benefits planning, and job placement services for people with disabilities in Massachusetts. Ms. Petkauskos has successfully implemented several federal disability-employment initiatives including Projects With Industry; Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency; Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach; Work Incentives Planning and Assistance; and the Business Leadership Network in Massachusetts. After having successfully implemented Social Security’s Ticket to Work program in Massachusetts, Ms. Petkauskos was invited to Washington, D.C. to present in front of Social Security’s Ticket to Work Advisory Panel on two occasions. Additionally, Kathleen has extensive experience designing, managing and delivering disability-employment related services to the Massachusetts business community including disability awareness and sensitivity training; technical assistance on recruiting, accommodating and managing employees with disabilities; and consulting on developing and implementing disability-employment policies and practices within corporate work places. Ms. Petkauskos received an Associates of Science Degree in Physical Therapy from Becker College; a certificate in Vocational Evaluation from Assumption College; and a certificate in Nonprofit Finance and Administration from Suffolk University.
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Michelle Nowers, Project Manager for Communications
Michelle Nowers, B.A., is the Project Manager for Communications for the Disability, Health and Employment Policy (DHEP) Unit and Work Without Limits at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Ms. Nowers manages all marketing and communication activities for both the DHEP Unit and Work Without Limits. Activities include the management of the Work Without Limits website, development and dissemination of all marketing and collateral materials and products, and the management of all social media activities for Work Without Limits. Ms. Nowers is also the event coordinator for the Work Without Limits Annual Conference and Career Fair where she manages all planning and coordination of the conference agenda, speakers, and logistical details. In her role, Ms. Nowers also manages Jobs Without Limits, Work Without Limits job board. Ms. Nowers joined the University of Massachusetts in 2003 where she started as an Administrative Assistant for the Center for Health Policy and Research. In 2002, she moved to work as a Research Coordinator for the Massachusetts Medicaid Infrastructure Comprehensive Employment Opportunities Grant within the Center for Health Policy and Research where she worked on the development and implementation of the Massachusetts Strategic Plan for Disability Employment, which resulted in the development of Work Without Limits in 2009. Ms. Nowers earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication and Theatre Arts from Western Connecticut State University.
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Kathy Muhr, Project DIRECTOR
Kathy Muhr, M.Ed. is a Project Director for Work Without Limits, an initiative of the Disability, Health and Employment Policy (DHEP) Unit at the Center for Health Policy and Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In this role, she is responsible for the coordination of all B2B events for corporate sponsors; coordination of career fairs; managing and developing community partnerships for candidate sourcing including colleges, social service agencies and career centers; assists with the planning and execution of the annual conference. In addition, Ms. Muhr has extensive experience in qualitative and quantitative research methods and analysis. Prior to UMass Medical School, Ms. Muhr has over 20 years of experience working with a variety of populations including; individuals with chronic mental illness; physical disabilities; substance use; and low-income. Ms. Muhr earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Rhode Island College and a Masters in Counseling from Providence College.
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Megan Northup, Project Assistant
Megan Northup is currently a Project Assistant for the Disability Health and Employment Policy (DHEP) Unit and Work Without Limits at University of Massachusetts Medical School. Ms. Northup has worked for DHEP and Work Without Limits since 2012, where she began as an intern with UMASS Medical School’s ASPIRE program and then transitioned to a full time position as a Project Assistant. In her current role, Ms. Northup provides administrative and project support to both service and research staff. Ms. Northup has helped on a variety of projects including the development of ReachHireMA.org; a website for young adults with lived experience or mental illness. She also assisted with the development of JobsWithoutLimits.org, an online job board exclusively for individuals with disabilities which was launched in 2015. Ms. Northup has also assisted in planning for unit events, conferences and trainings including the Work Without Limits Raise the Bar Hire Annual Conference. She has presented at educational events and conferences offering her perspective of being an employee with a disability. Her experience of living and working with a disability brings a unique point of view to the many projects on which she works. Ms. Northup has a B.S. in Occupational Science from American International College in Springfield MA.
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Linda Long-Bellil, Project Director
Linda Long-Bellil, Ph.D., J.D. is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and a Project Director and a member of the Work Without Limits team in the Disability, Health and Employment Policy Unit at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She conducts research and provides policy analysis and technical assistance related to employment, health and disability. She also teaches in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship program at the Shriver Center and collaborates with other faculty to educate current and future health professionals about how to provide quality care to persons with disabilities.
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Peter Travisano M.Ed, CWIC
Peter Travisano has more than twenty years of management experience in the Vocational Rehabilitation field. As the manager of the employment program at Genesis Club, annual employment outcomes exceeded 160 placements and $1,000,000 in consumer earnings.
Since 2010, Peter has provided Social Security beneficiaries with information regarding the impact on working on their financial, health care and other public benefits.
Peter has served as the Manager of the Work Without Limits BenePLAN team and is currently the Manager of the Work Without Limits Administrative Employment Network, partnering with community based vocational rehabilitation programs to maximize their revenue through Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program.
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Christine E. Roa, Community Work Incentives Coordinator, BenePLAN
Christine E. Roa earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in Accounting, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Worcester State University. She recently received her Masters in Public Administration from Clark University. In 2014, Christine was fully certified as a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) by Virginia Commonwealth University.
Ms. Roa began her career at UMass Medical School in 2004. Initially Ms. Roa worked for UMass Disability Evaluation Services as a Bilingual Disability Assistant (English/Spanish) providing optimal customer service and administrative support across multiple departments. Five years later, she was chosen as one of four candidates under UMass’ Associates Program where she began a new position as a Project Coordinator for the UMass Correctional Health Federal Program. Here, she was an integral part of organizing and executing a national conference and academic consortium that fostered research on best practices among penal populations. In 2013, she joined the UMass BenePLAN team as a result of her fervent desire to continue assisting underserved populations. She is charged to guide transition-aged youth with disabilities to greater independence through benefits counseling.
Ms. Roa, a first generation Colombian, was born and raised in Worcester, MA where she became very involved in the Latino community after mastering Spanish in her adolescent years. She also relishes in working with youth and has volunteered for the past six years as a coach and mentor for a local grassroots, youth program known as Cultural Exchange Through Soccer.
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Brian Forsythe, Community Work Incentives Coordinator, BenePLAN
Brian Forsythe earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Lowell. He was certified as a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) in 2001 by Virginia Commonwealth University and is a certified Tilting at Windmills trainer.
Prior to his current role, Mr. Forsythe’s background includes nearly 30 years of experience in all aspects of vocational rehabilitation and special education including a Special Needs Teacher at Bay State Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Facility in Billerica, Mass., and supervisor, supported-work counselor, vocational evaluator, job placement coordinator and program marketing specialist for the Merrimack Valley Goodwill Industry in Lowell, Mass.
Mr. Forsythe worked for 11 years as a Regional Coordinator for Resource Partnership, an organization responsible for the placement of qualified job candidates with disabilities into competitive employment. He conducted job seeking skills workshops, and provided ongoing support to Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission job club members. Under the direction of an Employer Advisory Committee, he outreached and developed job postings from area employers. Additionally, Mr. Forsythe provided a wide range of in-house training programs for local employers, including but not limited to “Tilting a Windmills” which is a nationally recognized disability awareness training program. In addition, he consulted with local employers on issues of hiring, promoting, and retaining employees with disabilities and the interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 2001, Mr. Forsythe was originally certified as a Benefits Specialist, now known as a Community Work Incentives Coordinator, under a grant from the Social Security Administration. He worked as a Benefits Specialist for seven years prior to joining UMass Medical School.
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Barbara Lee, Community Work Incentives Coordinator, BenePLAN
Barbara Lee earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Boston University. She was certified as a Community Work Incentives Coordinator in 2007 by Virginia Commonwealth University and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Spina Bifida Association of Massachusetts.
Ms. Lee brings extensive experience to her current role as Supervisor of the BenePLAN team and CWIC at UMass Medical School’s Center for Health Policy and Research. Prior to her current role, Ms. Lee’s background includes over 15 years working for human services organizations where she has served in a myriad of roles including benefits and career counseling, information and referral services, and conference planning and execution.
Prior to her employment at UMass Medical School, Ms. Lee worked at Resource Partnership, an organization that assisted people with disabilities with their job search and transition to employment. In that capacity, Ms. Lee worked with individuals at various provider agencies including the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and One-Stop Career Centers. She received her certification in Work Incentives Planning and Assistance while at Resource Partnership.
Prior to working at Resource Partnership, Ms. Lee worked as an Administrator for RESOLVE, a National HelpLine located in Somerville, Massachusetts that provides information and referral to couples seeking fertility specialists and answers to medical questions related to infertility treatments and options. In that capacity Ms. Lee’s responsibilities included consumer education and support services, and training and recruitment of HelpLine staff and volunteers. She also coordinated and administered the member-to-member contact system for consumers, online chats, and writing and revising guidelines for host and moderator. She was also instrumental in the planning and implementation of all national events for the organization.
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Marjorie Longo, Community Work Incentives Coordinator, BenePLAN
Marjorie Longo earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Special and Elementary Education from Wheelock College. She was fully certified as a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) by Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014.
Prior to her employment at UMass Medical School, Ms. Longo’s background features a wealth of experience in Program Directorship, Special Education, Retail Management, and in Vocational/Educational Counseling.
For the past fifteen years and functioning in many different rolls within Riverside Community Care, Ms. Longo has been dedicated to assisting the employment and educational needs of persons with severe and persistent mental illness. As an employee of Riverside Career Services she ultimately achieved the position of Program Director. In this capacity she collaborated with various provider agencies including the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, One-Stop Career Centers, the Department of Developmental Services, as well as other institutions and agencies. Ms. Longo has provided ongoing assistance to individuals, employers, partner providers and educational institutions – not only upholding program integrity but honoring client choices as an integral part of her services.
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Winifred Siano, Community Work Incentives Coordinator, BenePLAN
Winifred Siano attended Elms College with a concentration in Paralegal studies. She was certified as a Community Work Incentives Coordinator in 2014 by Virginia Commonwealth University.
Ms. Siano’s background features extensive experience in Mental Health, Job Development and Advocacy. She has over 10 years’ experience working in mental health in both an inpatient setting, as well as a Clubhouse environment. As an Employment Specialist at Tradewinds Clubhouse in Southbridge, MA (a program of Human Resources Unlimited), she worked closely with community employers and members to find the right employment match. As a result, the employers gained dedicated, dependable employees -- and the members experienced job satisfaction and longevity, as well as the joy of being valued.
Ms. Siano desires through her role as a CWIC to help persons with disabilities view the complex world of their Social Security benefits with a better understanding that work is definitely possible.
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Amanda Elinoff, Administrative Coordinator, Disability, Health and Employment Policy Unit
Amanda B. Elinoff has been providing administrative support in the field of higher education for over 15 years. As Administrative Coordinator to the Disability, Health and Employment Policy Unit, Amanda provides both administrative and financial assistance to the unit’s faculty and staff. Amanda serves as a liaison to the finance office, and supports the unit’s various projects.
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Stephanie Major, Administrative Assistant, BenePLAN
Stephanie Major earned her Certification in Office and Business Support from Middlesex Community College in May 2004.
Ms. Major brings over eight years of experience to her position, providing administrative support to the BenePLAN program and the Center for Health Policy and Research at UMass Medical School.
In addition, Ms. Major works part-time for Showcase Cinemas as an usher, where she has worked for almost 9 years. She also plays an instrumental role in assisting the cinema with its charity fundraising events. Ms. Major was awarded Employee of the Month in January 2005, and given the Secret Shopper bonus for Outstanding Customer Service in May 2004, November 2004 and May 2005.
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