Laura Owens

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

Dr. Owens' research interests include transition from school to adult life, including support/customized employment; high school inclusion; self-determination; and Employment First. Dr. Owens teaches courses to middle and high school educators in curricular accommodations, career and transition from school to adult life, and serves as the advisor for the Transition for Students with Disabilities Graduate Certificate.

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 Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst (APSE), a national association focusing on integrated employment and career advancement for individuals with disabilities.

She is an internationally known speaker having presented to business organizations and schools in Canada, Ireland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, 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.

Laura Owens Curriculum Vitae (PDF)