About Us

Our Work

The WorkABILITY Innovation Lab advances full integrated employment and inclusive workplaces for individuals with visible, invisible and undisclosed impediments to employment by:

  • Preparing youth and adults for the world of work
  • Removing barriers and obstacles to meaningful employment unless part of an intervention
  • Creating supportive and inclusive workplace ecosystems
  • Implementing strategies to increase economic self-sufficiency
  • Strategizing effective individualized supports
  • Progressing contemporary disability and employment policies and practices
  • Promoting non-traditional employment strategies

Our Staff

A team of faculty and staff from the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability administer the work of the Lab.

Andrew' Headshot

Andrew Karhan


Phone: (518) 441-7337

Email: andrew.karhan@cornell.edu

Kate's Headshot

Katherine MacDowell


Phone: (607) 255-7727

Email: kkm74@cornell.edu

Bryan's Headshot

Bryan Bates

Web & Media Designer

Phone: (607) 255-3083

Email: bb679@cornell.edu

Michelle's Headshot

Michelle Kaye

Web & Media Designer

Phone: (607) 255-1560

Email: ms3455@cornell.edu

Bryan's Headshot

Brett Blanchard

Web Developer

Phone: (607) 254-7216

Email: brb76@cornell.edu

Our Board

An eight-member Advisory Board, appointed by the ILR Dean in consultation with the Director of the Lab and Chair of the Advisory Board, oversees the work of the Lab. The Board is comprised of individuals with a lived experience of disability, employers, innovators, foundations, non-profit organizations, and researchers. Board member terms are for three years. Specifically, the Board is charged with:

  • Overseeing the process, execution, and stewardship for an annual competitive Request for Proposals, which are available to interested stakeholders in order to foster partnerships to advance local and regional innovations in alignment with the Lab’s mission.
  • Recommending annual funding priorities.
  • Consulting on the development of a public-facing media presence. This will include a website for knowledge translation and dissemination, impact stories, social media, and more.
  • Making recommendations for Lab strategy.
K. Lisa Yang portrait

K. Lisa Yang

Executive Advisory Director

Ms. Yang founded the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University (2015). She also co-founded the Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research at MIT (2017) and Harvard (2019).

Board Members

Andy Sink is the Director of NYESS (New York Employment Services System) Employment Policy at the New York State Office of Mental Health and has been involved in employment and rehabilitation services supporting New Yorkers facing various barriers since the early 2000’s. NYESS is a resource for all things related to employment services, a collaborative employment services case management system, a data system, and a Ticket-to-Work Administrative Employment Network in partnership with New York State Department of Labor. Andy and his team promote principles, practices, and policies to improve employment outcomes for individuals of all abilities in New York through collaborations with state agencies, service providers, and advocacy organizations.

Dr. Arun Karpur, MD, MPH is the Director for Data Science and Evaluation Research at Autism Speaks. Dr. Karpur is leading efforts on utilizing existing data sets including electronic health and insurance claims data to enhance understanding of disparities in access to needed services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He has established Autism Data Science Advisory Network consisting of academic researchers and leading experts in technology to identify opportunities in leveraging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence in Autism research. Prior to joining Autism Speaks in 2018, Dr. Karpur was a research faculty at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, where he was a co-investigator for a $35M federally funded study to improve employment, education, and economic outcomes for low-income youth with disabilities. Dr. Karpur has received funding support for his research from US DOE, Rehabilitation Services Administration, ACL, NIH, and the World Bank. Recently, he led a nation-wide thought leadership summit on transition to adulthood for youth with ASD for identifying evidence-base practices and scaling-up of programs and policies.

Dr. Karpur has helped found a public policy research institute in India along with colleague faculty members at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and London School of Economics. He has coached over 150 mid-career professionals in India, Sri Lanka and other south-east Asian countries in the quantitative methods and using big data analysis for public policy and program evaluation research.

He serves as a board member for a non-profit in New Jersey that aims to improve access to services to south Asian children with disabilities. He has on the research committees in the National Academy of Medicine, American Public Health Association, American Evaluation Association, and American Education Research Association. He serves on grant review panels with the U.S. DOE, NIH, PCORI, and Workforce Investment Board in Canada.

Danielle Biddick is a Senior Advisor in Diversity Talent acquisition at Dell Technologies. In her role she leads Dell’s diversity talent acquisition pillar for individuals with disabilities and oversees Dell’s Neurodiversity Hiring Program. Dell’s neurodiversity program is specifically designed to rethink the traditional interview process and remove barriers that may limit an individual from fully showcasing their true abilities and potential.

Prior to her role at Dell, Danielle worked for the non-profit organization PROVAIL, where she program-managed PROVIAL’s partnership with the Microsoft Autism Hiring Program and HP’s Spectrum Success Program.

Hassan Enayati, PhD, a labor economist and Senior Associate in Abt Associates’ US Domestic Division. His research uses applied microeconomics to examine employment and compensation questions on disability policy, employer disability practices, school-to-work transitions, performance and incentive pay, and involvement with the criminal justice system. Dr. Enayati applies his years of professional experience in academic and research organizations to design and direct large research projects and to deliver meaningful insights to relevant stakeholders. Dr. Enayati is well-published with several peer-reviewed book chapters and articles in journals such as Journal of Disability Policy Studies, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Public Policy & Aging Report. He has a track record leading projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor, Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and numerous city and state agencies. Dr. Enayati leverages quantitative and methodological skills along with clear and intentional communication to effectively translate research findings into actionable knowledge.

Joseph Riddle is the director of the Neurodiversity in the Workplace program. In this role, he has led a team to implement hiring programs for neurodiverse individuals. Companies such as SAP, Dell Technologies, Bank of America, and many more, have participated in hiring programs allowing the creation of a network of employers and talented individuals on the spectrum. These companies, with support from Joe and his team, are leading the way in demonstrating to the American workforce that neurodiverse talent is both valuable and productive.

Legislator Josh Lafazan, at 23 years of age, became Nassau County’s youngest-ever legislator upon his election to the Nassau County Legislature in November of 2017. He is currently serving his second term, where he represents Nassau’s 18th Legislative District. Josh graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Management in May 2017, and from the Cornell University ILR School with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations in May 2016. Josh is currently pursuing his Doctoral Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to public service, Josh is proud to work for Northwell Health, supporting the health system’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. In this role, Josh advises Northwell - New York’s largest private employer - on implementing policies and initiatives to best care for our employees, protect the environment, and impact our communities through strategic partnerships. Josh is also a college professor, where he is the youngest faculty member at Long Island University. Josh's courses teach young candidates how to run for public office in their communities, and young entrepreneurs on how to start a venture. ​ In May 2012, at the age of 18, Josh became one of the youngest elected officials in the history of New York State when he was elected to the Syosset School Board of Education. Josh was elected with 82% of the vote one month before he graduated from Syosset High School, and was re- elected by his constituents in 2015.

Co-founder and CEO Ultranauts Inc

Rajesh Anandan is an impact entrepreneur and growth architect. He is the co-founder and CEO of Ultranauts, an award-winning quality engineering firm with employees in 25 states across the U.S., 75% of whom are on the autism spectrum. Named a FastCompany World Changing Idea, MIT SOLVE Challenge Winner and Interbrand Breakthrough Brand, Ultranauts is reimagining how a company hires talent, manages teams and develops careers. Rajesh is also the founder of UNICEF Kid Power which launched the world's first Wearable-forGood product and Streaming-for-Good service. He began his career at Microsoft as a program manager, and then joined Bain & Company where he focused on business incubation and growth strategy for technology, media, financial services, healthcare and retail clients. For the past decade, he has worked in the impact sector, including setting up and running UNICEF Ventures, an incubator for self-sustaining tech-for-good ventures. Rajesh has a BSc and MEng in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT with concentrations in Artificial Intelligence, Systems Dynamics and Economics.

Received a BA in Psychology in 1972 and an M.Ed in Rehabilitation Counseling in 1977 from the Pennsylvania State University.

Mr. Cambria served for three years as the Director of a Vocational Training Center providing job skill development services to individuals with Developmental Disabilities

He was also the Director of State On-The-Job Training Program (OJT) for the Pennsylvania ARC. In this position Rocco was responsible for the procurement, oversight and outcomes of financial incentive agreements with businesses to promote the employment of individuals with developmental disabilities throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additionally, Rocco traveled throughout Pennsylvania providing training consultation in the areas of Job Development and Placement, Job readiness and the development of incentive-based contracting in the provision of employment services.

Mr. Cambria is the co-founder of AHEDD, established in 1977 and served as the organization’s Director of OJT Programs, then Vice President, and subsequently was appointed to the position of President in 1982.

AHEDD is a leader in the design, development and provision of community employment services to individuals with disabilities. AHEDD's mission is to serve the community as a catalyst in the employment and development of people with disabilities. In carrying out its mission, AHEDD works with government agencies at all levels, as well as the business community.  AHEDD also coordinates the PA Business Leadership Network (PA-BLN) which is part of a national business-to-business initiative that allows companies to learn about and promote the employment of persons with disabilities. Additionally, AHEDD contracts with SSA under the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program (WIPA) and Ticket to Work Program (TTW) in an effort to address the common employment fears of SSA beneficiaries and to offer these individuals greater choice on where to get employment support.

Contact Us

Yang-Tan Institute
Cornell University
201 Dolgen Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853

(607) 255-7727