Think Differently About Thinking Differently

Think Differently About Thinking Differently

“Even the most highly skilled and verbal adults struggle to find employment, and the problem will only get worse. In 2018 a Houston Chronicle article highlighted that over the next ten years 500,000 autistic teens in the United States will age out of their local funding support systems. This is why creating an autism employability project has become such a passion for me. I desperately want to figure out how to fill in the glaring gap between employers who need loyal, capable workers and these underutilized neurodiverse adults.”

– Maisie Soetantyo, Founder of Autism Career Pathways.

This Core Conversation will discuss how neurodiverse individuals can thrive in the workplace and as entrepreneurs. We’ll discuss the potential and possibilities of embracing neurodiversity and provide you with the confidence to engage talent on the spectrum.

Who should join? This talk will benefit business owners, neurodiverse people, and those who WANT to open their doors to these talented individuals!

Schedule

  • Welcome & Introductions
  • Dr. Heidi Ham will provide a Neurodiversity Rundown and how perspectives have to change toward acceptance and inclusion, and step away from pathologizing and fixing.
  • Then, Dr. Ham and Jeffrey Miller will discuss career pathways as well as innovative strategies that have ensured autistic adults have thrived in the workplace.
  • Following the discussion, there will be a Q&A session for attendees to ask their own questions about neurodiversity in entrepreneurship and the workplace.

About our Speakers

Dr. Heidi Stieglitz Ham is a social entrepreneur, autism researcher, adjunct professor at Rice University, and founder of Spectrum Fusion, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in Human Communication Disorders, and in 2010 she graduated with her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Edinburgh specializing in autism. After completing her PhD, she taught and conducted research at the University of Queensland before moving to Western Australia.

After listening to parents across continents share their concerns regarding the lack of opportunities and positive outcomes for their adult children, she created a vision to shape the future of neurodiversity by creating a model grounded in sense-of-belonging, community, embracing the science of hope, and empowering adults on the spectrum to reach their full potential. This conceptual vision was presented at TEDxPerth in 2014.

Dr. Stieglitz Ham founded Spectrum Fusion in 2014 in Australia, and in 2017 brought her concept of a social impact model empowering adults to realize their full potential. She launched the Reactor Room Program: ‘A Shark Tank’ for Adults on the Autism Spectrum designed to create new and innovative opportunities for individuals providing them access to important connections. The Reactor Room Program® is the only program of its kind. Each Reactor Room focuses on the individual needs of participants and brings together business leaders, community connectors, entrepreneurs, and individuals with specialized knowledge who come prepared with their ideas and networks specifically tailored for the participants.

Currently, Dr. Stieglitz Ham is the Principal Investigator on a research study at Rice University assessing the effectiveness of traditional assessment measures that employers typically administer in adults on the autism spectrum.

Jeff Miller is the CEO & Founder of Potentia Workforce, a consulting firm that delivers technology, analytics, and human capital services by leveraging the talents of and providing opportunities to skilled, yet often overlooked neurodiverse individuals.

Jeff is an executive with more than 25 years’ experience leading high-performance organizations that provide innovative solutions to the communities they serve. He has launched and led businesses in the twenty largest markets in North America and across four continents.

Prior to founding Potentia, Jeff was President of a $350M global workforce services firm – delivering record profits while closing four acquisitions in less than eighteen months. Earlier in his career, he was Division President for a healthcare consultancy, taking the firm from start-up to a successful sale in three years. Jeff began his career for a Boston-based technology consulting firm where he was promoted four times before the age of thirty.

After his son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum, Jeff began a deep exploration into neurodiversity which ultimately led to the formation of Potentia – combining multiple passions to bring innovation and corporate America and opportunity to the remarkable and often underemployed, neurodiverse community.

Jeff is a sought after thought leader and has appeared numerous times on television, at conferences, and online – sharing his experiences on leadership, neurodiversity and finding your purpose. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Gateway Academy, a Houston-area High School for students with learning differences.

A graduate of Williams College, Jeff lives in the Houston area with his wife Samantha and awesomely cool teenage son, Charlie.

Entrepreneurs, Investors, Innovators & Changemakers: Join us for more #THIS2020 Events! See the full calendar of 35+ *virtual* talks, panels, hackathons and more at https://thehoustonimpactsummit.com/

Help promote and expand inclusivity and equity across Houston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem: Sponsor THIS today! > https://www.betterunite.com/impacthubhouston-this2020sponsorship

On Inclusion and Equity: Let Our Actions Speak Loudly

Since the inception of Impact Hub Houston, we have worked to build not only an inclusive and equitable community, but also a welcoming and supportive one — a community that opens it doors, resources, and network to people from all walks of life. You can see it in our team, in our board, in our partners, and in our mentors and advisors. You can see it in our community, on our panels, in our workshops, and at our events.

To us, diversity is not just a commitment ⁠— diversity is who we are. Diversity is the expression of our very existence. It’s why inclusion and equity are core to what we do: If we leave anyone behind, we fail. If we lock anyone out, we lose. If we do not work to engage, empower, and elevate our neighbors who have been overlooked, marginalized, disadvantaged, under-served and under-invested in, we cannot build an authentic ecosystem that looks like Houston, works like Houston, and works for Houston. For one of the largest and most diverse communities in the United States, anything that falls short of that would be unacceptable.

Which brings me to the reason for writing this. Amidst a sea of statements on racism and police violence against black Americans from many of the world’s leading companies, triggered by the murder in Minneapolis of Houston’s own George Perry “Big Floyd,” Jr., we did not want to add more noise to the fray. We opted to step back and make space for black voices to be heard and amplified. So we joined #BlackOutTuesday on social media and shared resources from black leaders and ways to support black lives.

 

Rather than issue a statement, we let our actions speak for us.

 

Our team continued to serve our members, support diverse entrepreneurs, and address inequalities:

But the violence hasn’t stopped. The virus hasn’t stopped. And both continue attacking communities of color in ways we can’t solve in silence.

In public spaces across America, we watch as peaceful protesters and journalists exercising their First Amendment rights get tazed, peppersprayed, shot with rubber bullets and flashbangs, beaten, kicked, knocked unconscious, rammed by vehicles, hospitalized and arrested without cause…by the very people who are supposed to serve and protect us. We’ve seen white people call the cops and attempt to weaponize the police against men of color. At the same time, Houston and Texas have seen the highest increases in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic hit our region.

We must ask ourselves tough questions.

We must not re-build broken systems, but re-imagine better ones.

We must co-create transformational, generational change.

We must act loudly.

 

Our commitment:

  • We stand against racism, colorism, and all forms of discrimination, hate, and humiliation.
  • We will convene diverse organizations and organizers to identify root causes of systemic disparities, and collaborate with them to develop holistic solutions for equitable outcomes.
  • We will divest from partnerships and projects that perpetuate institutionalized discrimination.
  • We will invest in re-imagining and co-creating programs that generate inclusive opportunities for upward mobility and wealth creation for the historically disadvantaged.
  • We will call out performative activities and prejudices that prevent full economic justice and equal opportunity for our diverse communities.
  • We will hold ourselves publicly accountable to these commitments.

 

We cannot wait for someone else to save the day.

We must become the heroes of our own story.

We invite you to join us and be the change, too.

 

“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

– John Lewis

 

Resources to learn more about the underlying issues and ways to practice inclusion and allyship: