The 7th Annual Colorado IPS Conference Sponsored by the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health and Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation took place on October 13th and 14th, 2021.  Representation from Colorado’s Medicaid agency Healthcare Policy and Financing and the Colorado Office of Employment First helped to plan and support the conference. The theme of the 2021 conference, “Building the Future of IPS: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” was selected because of the need to expand the knowledge and professional development of the Colorado IPS community in EDI, and is a topic ever present in our world that was important to discuss from the perspective of disability and employment. The objective of this conference was to open up the EDI conversation in our community and establish a foundation for continued training and dialogue around EDI issues and concerns. The virtual platform of this year’s conference allowed for presenters and participants from other states which enriched the experience for all participants. This year’s conference celebrated Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with 155 registrants, 13 presentations, two keynote addresses, and five annual awards. In addition to the EDI theme, there was another sub-theme of working virtually during Covid. It was discussed amongst conference attendees and was a great place to share ideas and learn how to meet the need of the people we all serve in the employment journeys during such a large culture shift.

Keynote speakers, Hannah Matthys (she/her/hers), Ph.D., Equity Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and Paul Barnett, MS, MA, LPC Director of Child, Youth, and Family Behavioral Health, spoke about their personal journeys as it connected to the conference theme. On day one Hannah presented, “EDI and YOU: How to fully serve ALL Coloradans with an Equitable Lens”.  In his keynote, “Recovery: A Personal Journey”, Paul retold his recovery journey and the connection to his professional life as a mental health leader in Colorado. Paul was also recognized as the 7th Annual IPS Colorado IPS Conference IPS Champion for his many years of IPS leadership.

The world is changing and growing every day and so it is important for our Colorado IPS community to grow and respond to the needs of the individuals we serve. IPS is positioned to help so many people, and it is imperative that all those who receive and deliver IPS services feel welcomed, respected, seen, and heard.

-Colorado IPS Leadership Team