Supervisory Policy Advisor
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
Christopher Button Supervisory Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy
Christopher Button is a Supervisory Policy Advisor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the U.S. Department of Labor where she leads the Workforce Systems Policy Team and serves as one of ODEP’s Senior Management staff. The Workforce Systems Policy Team focuses on removal of structural, policy and other workforce barriers to increase competitive, integrated employment and economic advancement for people with disabilities, with particular focus on people with the most significant disabilities. Chris leads cross-team activities in policy analysis, research and program design in order to identify and develop policy direction, develop, validate and expand successful practices, and otherwise develop and promote a systems change and policy alignment agenda for full inclusion in competitive, integrated employment. In this capacity she is responsible for working with national leaders to conceptualize and validate innovative and best-practice strategies and policies for opening the generic public workforce system to effectively serve job seekers with complex employment barriers, transforming provider systems to an integrated service model, and aligning policy across multiple systems at the federal and state levels in support of these goals. Her team leads ODEPs WIOA, Employment First and Provider Transformation initiatives working with states, service systems and providers nationally to expand competitive, integrated employment and economic advancement for youth and adults with disabilities, and to promote capacity building within the public workforce development system to effectively serve all jobseekers.
Chris’s prior experience includes employment as Professional Staff to former U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker (Connecticut). Her legislative responsibilities included the Rehabilitation Act, the Developmental Disabilities Act and the Education of the Handicapped Act (later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), generic Labor statutes and other laws relating to health care/Medicaid and small business. Her efforts as lead staff person for reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act in 1986 resulted in creation of the new supported employment state grant program, established a new Section 508 for electronic equipment accessibility, and placed increased emphasis on rehabilitation technology throughout the Act. In 1988 Dr. Button was voted by her Congressional staff peers to be profiled in the Almanac of the Unelected as one of the most influential aides in the U.S. Congress on issues related to disability. She later was invited to appear on the national NBC Today Show to participate in a debate on education reform and inclusion of students with disabilities in regular education classes, with Katie Couric as moderator. In 2012 she was honored to receive the first ever Marc Gold award for employment of people with disabilities, given to someone who has made significant contributions in the area of employment and disability. In 2016 she was further honored to receive the Dave Hammis Innovation Award, a national award given for innovation and leadership in the field of disability. Chris’s undergraduate program included living at a segregated state institution in Florida – an experience which profoundly influenced her life and work choice. Her doctoral dissertation examined state policy influences on the educational integration of youth with disabilities.