Consultant and Trainer
Nicole Clevenger, BFA, is a consultant and trainer at the Center for Evidence-Based Practices at Case Western Reserve University and its Ohio Supported Employment Coordinating Center of Excellence (Ohio SE CCOE) initiative. In this role, she provides technical assistance to service organizations throughout Ohio that are implementing Supported Employment (SE), the evidence-based practice, which helps people with mental illness find a job of their choice in the community.
Ms. Clevenger also promotes the CEBP's Benefits Planning consultation and training among service organizations and consumer-operated services (COS) that are helping people make more informed decisions about their benefits situations and employment dreams. In addition, she provides consultation for the Peer-Employment Partnership, a collaboration of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and COS/peer-centers throughout the state. The collaboration is designed to increase employment for people living with severe mental illness.
Work Is Recovery (2m 38s)
- An audio clip featuring Nicole from the "Every Journey Has a Story" audio CD project. track #1 (click here).
With experiences from her own recovery journey, Ms. Clevenger brings unique insight to her work, offering service providers and policymakers a voice from the consumer perspective, which ultimately helps inform decision-making about service innovation. Ms. Clevenger eagerly shares stories from her experiences, especially those that illustrate the difference between traditional vocational services and evidence-based SE services. She emphasizes the importance of SE's core principles and practices, especially the "zero-exclusion" and "consumer preferences" components. She explains that it was the SE model that encouraged service providers to support her preference for a job that matched her interests, education, and skills in writing, advocacy, and art.
Ms. Clevenger also shares recovery stories with consumers and family members in an effort to encourage others to embrace the struggles and triumphs of their own experiences and to pursue their employment dreams. One of her goals is to encourage everyone involved in services to engage in open and ongoing dialogue and to build meaningful relationships that are defined by hope, optimism, and genuine collaboration. Since joining the CEBP, Nicole has interviewed many consumers and written numerous success stories. She insists that personal stories of recovery must be told, because they are the most powerful forms of evidence, ones that bring feeling and, thus, meaning to outcomes and other data.
Ms. Clevenger serves on the Ohio Supported Employment Advisory Committee as well as the Johnson & Johnson-Dartmouth Community Mental Health Program Advisory Board. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Lake Erie College, with a concentration in visual arts. Prior to joining the CEBP at Case Western Reserve, she had worked as a public relations writer and as a teacher and advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. In 2009, she was profiled in a feature about Supported Employment on the CBS Evening News.