Laura Owens, Professor in Teaching and Learning.

Laura Owens, PhD

  • Professor, Teaching and Learning


  • PhD, Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education | University of Wisconsin - Madison, 1997 | Dissertation: Employer Views on Job Development Strategies for Marketing Supported Employment
  • MS, Special Education | University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, 1990 | Thesis: A Communication Intervention for Decreasing Aberrant Behaviors in an Adolescent with Severe Handicaps
  • BS, Special Education | University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, 1983

Professional Licenses/Certifications

  • Wisconsin Teaching License: Students with Cognitive Disabilities, K-12, 1983 – Present
  • Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP), 2012 – Present

Laura Owens teaches courses in the special education teacher preparation program. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in instructional methods, curriculum accommodations, and transition. She also coordinates the Transition for Students with Disabilities Graduate Certificate. Owens' research interests include transition from school to adult life; support/customized employment; individual empowerment and equity in special education and the adult systems, and organizational change.

In 1991, Dr. Owens founded Creative Employment Opportunities, Inc. an employment agency for individuals with disabilities in Milwaukee, after seeing students graduate into a world of limited or non-existent employment opportunities. She also founded ArtWorks for Milwaukee, a non-profit jobs-training program in the arts in 2001. In 2009 she was appointed to serve as the President of the Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE), a national association focusing on integrated employment and career advancement for individuals with disabilities. She currently works with TransCen, Inc., a national nonprofit organization with a mission of meaningful work and community inclusion, based in Maryland.

She is an internationally known speaker having presented to business organizations, disability related associations, and schools in Canada, Ireland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Chile, Portugal, and other countries. Fundamental to her work is helping society at large see beyond the "current reality" to what can be, and to not set limits on themselves or individuals with diverse abilities.