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Sharon Brent
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Director of Training and Technical Assistance
National Disability Institute

Sharon Brent serves as the Director of Training and Technical Assistance for the National Disability Institute. She is a national expert on multiple Federal policy issues related to the employment and self-determination that improves the economic status of youth in transition and adult individuals with disabilities. Ms. Brent’s expertise is in youth and adult issues regarding employment, housing, health care, asset development, Social Security programs (certified), U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) programs. She has over twenty years of experience as an accomplished public speaker, curriculum developer, trainer, and advocate for people with disabilities.

Ms. Brent has developed curriculum for Benefits Training specific to Federal and State programs related to employment of people who are receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and State Medicaid Health Insurance, Food Stamps, Section 8 housing subsidies, Individual Development Account’s, and other local programs for individuals who fall into the low income category who want to become or are already employed.

The range of organizations and self-advocates and families is varied and includes State Departments of Education, Departments of Mental Health, Vocational Rehabilitation, MR/DD, service providers, families and people with disabilities across the country. Currently she provides training and presents at conferences for SSA, DOL (including the Disability Program Navigator Initiative), CMS, States of Iowa, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Kansas, New York, Florida and multiple non-profit associations, like National Down Syndrome Society. In addition, Ms. Brent has served as a staff member of a unified school district providing a bridge in the transition from school to the community, Mental Health programs, providing case management day-to-day direct benefits support for people with disabilities returning to work, and training to both large and small groups of professionals in community Mental Health facilities, multiple school districts, parent groups and case managers.

Ms. Brent has served in an adjunct position at San Diego State University where she provided education and training in the departments of Vocational Rehabilitation, Special Education, and Psychology. She also served on State Education school district accreditation review boards and group home quality care reviews for continued licensing and certification.

As a parent of an adult son with Cerebral Palsy, Ms. Brent has the ability to apply personal as well as professional knowledge that provides credibility and technical information to a full range of stakeholders. She is clear that knowledge is power and all stakeholders need the same information to create an equal partnership that will advance economic empowerment for people with disabilities.