Learn more about the team behind EARN.
Meet the EARN Staff:
Cornell Staff Bios
Susanne Bruyere, Co-Director
Susanne M. Bruyère, Ph.D., CRC, is the Director of the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability and Co-Director and Co-Principal Director of EARN. For EARN, her efforts are focused on collaborating with project partners, fiscal administration and contributing to research around employment disability nondiscrimination and disability employment policy. As Director of the Yang Tan Institute, Susanne is responsible for the strategic and financial direction of a multi-million dollar research, training, technical assistance and information dissemination organization devoted to improving employment outcomes and inclusive communities for people with disabilities. Susanne is also a Professor of Disability Studies at Cornell. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.
Wendy Strobel Gower, Co-Director
Wendy Strobel Gower is the Program Director for Inclusive Workplaces at the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability and Co-Director and Co-Principal Director of EARN. Wendy leads the Training and Technical Assistance Team and manages the daily operation of the EARN project. Wendy has almost 30 years’ experience in employment and disability and has been with Cornell University for 14 years. She has extensive experience with knowledge translation, product development and project leadership. Wendy has a master’s degree from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Sarah von Schrader, Research Lead
Sarah is the Associate Director of Research for the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. She leads EARN’s research team. Sarah’s research focuses on employer practices related to employer success in recruiting, hiring and advancing individuals with disabilities. Sarah has a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.
Ellice Switzer, Training and Technical Assistance Team
Ellice is an Extension Associate for the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. As an Extension Associate, she provides national technical assistance and training on topics related to disability and employment and U.S. disability policy, in addition to developing content and offering trainings for EARN. Her areas of focus include employer efforts to support workforce disability inclusion, demand-side strategies to improve employer engagement among disability service providers and evidence-based practices to support post-school success for youth with disabilities.
Ashley Bryant, Training and Technical Assistance Team
Ashley Bryant, PhD, CRC is a Workplace Disability Inclusion Associate at K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. Dr. Bryant supports EARN to operate an employer-focused disability policy development and technical assistance center. Dr. Bryant is passionate about workplace inclusion, and she has a wealth of experience working as a rehabilitation counselor to ensure persons with disabilities are included in the workforce. Prior to joining the Yang-Tan Institute, she served as corporate consultant and trainer for Dellanni consulting and a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist III for the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. Dr. Bryant is a licensed mental health counselor. Her dissertation research involved exploring the role of family cohesion in influencing the vocational identity status of emerging adults with autism spectrum disorder.
Jennifer Pawlewicz, Training and Technical Assistance Team
Jennifer Pawlewicz brings over 2 decades of employer relations experience into her role as Business Outreach Specialist within the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. Jennifer’s areas of focus include employer best practices to recruit, hire, retain, and advance employees with disabilities, and accessible and inclusive workplace cultures.
Bill Erickson, Research Team
Bill serves as a Senior Research Specialist for the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. He serves as part of EARN’s research team. He has been actively involved with disability research for over 20 years and has extensive experience in employer research, disability statistics, secondary data sources, survey design, web accessibility and youth transition related research. He has been involved in employer research since 2000 in both the private and federal sector in the U.S. as well as internationally. Bill has a master’s degree from Cornell University.
Bryan Bates, Web Team
Bryan serves as a Web Designer for the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. Bryan serves as the Project Manager for EARN’s web related work. Bryan joined the Institute in 2019 as a designer working on identity, web and print projects. Prior to this, he was a partner at the brand communication and design company, Ancient Wisdom Productions, for 14 years. Bryan has a master’s degree from Syracuse University.
Michelle Alvord, Media Team
Michelle serves as a Multi Media Assistant for the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. Michelle supports EARNS online events. Michelle previously worked at News Channel 34 in Binghamton, NY where she was a Television Director. Michelle has a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Oswego.
Peter Quinn, Media Team
Peter serves as a Multi Media Editor for the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. Peter supports EARN’s video related project work. Peter previously worked for WIVT/WBGH News Channel 34 in Binghamton, NY where he served as Anchor/Reporter/Photojournalist. Peter has a bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University.
Sara VanLooy, Administrative Team
Sara serves as a Project Coordinator for the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability (YTI), supporting administrative tasks for EARN. Sara has worked at YTI since 1999 as an administrative assistant and publications assistant, providing administrative, research, editing and writing support on numerous projects. Sara has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Concepts Communications Bios
Melissa Armstrong, Communications Team Lead
Melissa serves as a communication specialist at Concepts Communications. She serves as the project director for Communications and Outreach for EARN. For EARN, Melissa is responsible for creating and implementing social media strategies and specialized campaigns, as well as providing media outreach to increase awareness and promote all of EARN’s resources and tools. Melissa brings more than five years of experience to Concepts in media relations, brand management, message development and social media strategy. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.
Rutgers University Bios
Marjory Palius, Evaluation Team
Marjory is a Research Assistant at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. She works to evaluate the outcomes for the EARN project. Marjory has over 20 years’ experience and expertise in conducting qualitative research and in project management. She has a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.