PFE Logo
click here for info for Families and Job Seekers click here for info for Employers click here for info for Educators and Providers click here for info about the School to work transition

CDD logo

The Center for Development and Disability

Contact Partners for Employment

Shantih Bisland-Naggan
Information Specialist

Katherine “Kat” Elwell
Graduate Student Employee

Marcy Hintz
Statewide Project SEARCH Coordinator

Rebecca Roybal
Communication and Outreach Specialist


Partners for Employment

About Partners for Employment

Partners for Employment is a collaborative approach to increasing employment outcomes for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Our partners include the University of New Mexico, the Department of Health Developmental Disabilities Supports Division and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

The primary goal for Partners for Employment is to build capacity within the state of New Mexico among state agencies personnel, service providers, family members, self-advocates, employers and other supports.


National Disability Employment Awareness Month

#InclusionWorks, Inclusion Works for Opportunity, Inclusion works for business, Inclusion works for Innovation.

The Center for Development and Disability’s Partners for Employment program is proud to support National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Held each October, NDEAM strives to educate the general public about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

Governor Susanna Martinez kicked off the month’s activities by issuing a proclamation to recognize October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Read the proclamation here.

On October 4, 2016, the 3rd annual Partners for Employment Symposium brought together businesses and community agencies to learn how to work together to create employment opportunities for job seekers with disabilities.
Click here to learn more about the benefits to businesses.

On October 18, 2016 the New Mexico Ticket to Work Partners will present the 7th Annual Employment Expo to be held at the Center for Development and Disability. Past job fairs have included over 50 employers and have reached over 200 qualified job seekers with disabilities. Doors open from 10:00am-1:00pm.
Download a copy of the flyer here.

To learn more about the history of NDEAM and this year’s theme #InclusionWorks, visit the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s website.

Congratulations to New Mexico’s Certified Employment Support Professionals!


Partners for Employment is pleased to congratulate the following professionals for passing the Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) examination, the first national certification program for employment support professionals:

  • Patrick Anaya – La Vida Felicidad
  • Orlinda Charlston– DDSD
  • Donna Crockett- Albuquerque Public Schools
  • Tammy Davis– Albuquerque Public Schools
  • Darlene Fattorusso – UNM/CDD
  • Yvonne Gallegos– Best Buddies
  • Frank Gaona– DDSD
  • Holly Gonzales – Family Options
  • Katherine Johnson Herrera – DDSD
  • Carolyn Lavadie – DDSD
  • Amy Owens – Albuquerque Public Schools
  • Jaclyn Sanchez – DDSD
  • Brian Schobel – Albuquerque Public Schools
  • Eugene Vigil – DDSD

APSE, the Association of People Supporting Employment First, created the CESP certification which is the first in the nation to create national guidelines to validate and support the training currently provided in the field.

Unlike training programs that provide a certificate of completion, the CESP certification sets a standard of knowledge and distinguish employment support professionals who have shown they have the skill and competence to perform the requirements of the job. The CESP exam seeks to define the benchmarks for knowledge and competency in the field in the following areas: 1) Application of Core Values and Principles to Practice & Legislation and Funding; 2) Individualized Assessment and Employment/Career Planning; 3) Community Research and Job Development; 4) Workplace and Related Supports and 5) Ongoing Supports.

Partners for Employment, a collaboration between the UMN/CDD, DDSD and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) worked with APSE to bring the CESP certification exam to New Mexico this past June. Offering this examination is an important step towards advancing best practices for inclusive employment of people with disabilities throughout New Mexico. To learn more about upcoming certification opportunities, sign up for Partners for Employment’s newsletter.

Project SEARCH logo

Project SEARCH is an innovative school-to-work internship program that gives young adults with disabilities, ages 18-21, the opportunity to learn marketable job skills to help them gain employment.

Interns participate in a 9 month rotation at UNMH or Embassy Suites and receive job skills training and support from community rehabilitation providers and school staff. The intended outcome of the program is integrated employment for each participant.

Applications for our 2017/2018 cohort can be found at under Project SEARCH. Application deadline is February 3, 2017.


For more information, contact Connie Fasanella at or 872-6800 Ext 0 or Erica Brooks at 505-925-0942.

Join Us!

Project SEARCH Open House and Information Session

Jan 25th 2017 - 6:00PM - 7:00PM
More Information Here

Congratulations Graduating Classes of 2016!

Image of youths with disabilities who've graduated project searchimage of a blue and white cake that says Congratulations Project Search!

Congratulations to the 2015/2016 graduate classes of the UNMH Project SEARCH and the Hilton Garden Inn Project SEARCH programs. We are very proud of all of you and wish you the best of luck on your new paths.

Embassy Suites Joins NM Project SEARCH

Embassy Suites will be the newest of the NM Project SEARCH programs to collaborate as host business with Albuquerque Public

Schools Transition Services. The program site has selected and accepted 8 interns to participate this fall. Embassy Suites will offer internship sites focused on the hospitality industry to include customer service, housekeeping, and banquet preparation. With growing tourism in Albuquerque, skills in these areas will prove ideal for our interns.

Best Buddies of New Mexico will collaborate as the long term provider agency in addition to the UNMH program this fall. The APS/Best Buddies team will enter into their third year at UNMH and their first at Embassy Suites for the 2016/2017 program year.

Presbyterian Rust Medical Center Project SEARCH

The Presbyterian Rust Medical Center Project SEARCH has been busy planning the upcoming implementation in the fall of 2016.

The team has been working hard to recruit, assess, and select students from both Rio Rancho High School and Cleveland High School. The site has agreed to accept 11 students, to include 1 hybrid for program year 1.

Erin Riehle will meet with and present during the monthly Leadership meeting on May 26, 2016. Erin will then conduct a “walk-through” to identify potential internship rotation sites. The interns at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center will gain skills applicable to both the hospital environment and the growing community of Rio Rancho.

Student Application Period Extended for Hilton Garden Inn Project SEARCH site in Gallup, NM.

Interested candidates should fill out this application and return to:

GMCS Services for Exceptional Students
Educational Development Center
Attention: Special Education Coordinators
1000 East Aztec Avenue
Gallup, New Mexico 87301 505-721-1800

Topics A to Z

This page is a comprehensive index of employment related topics, and will be continually updated with new and helpful resources.