Karianne Clark, Job Developer
"The key to being a good job developer is developing relationships in the community."
When Karianne Clark moved back to Oregon, she was looking for an opportunity to continue in the field of supported employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
From 2005 to 2015, Kari worked as an employment specialist in Washington state, providing job coaching, job development and career development services.
In 2015, Kari and her husband made the decision to move to Central Oregon to be near family. She accepted a position as an IPS Supported Employment Specialist working in mental health services in Prineville.
Through her position in mental health, Karianne started attending local Employment First meetings in central Oregon.
“I kept hearing about the lack of services available in Crook County to individuals that experience intellectual and developmental disabilities as I networked with VR Counselors and attended Employment First meetings,” Karianne said. “This is my passion. The next step was finding out how to do the work.”
Karianne first went through the process to become an independent contractor and then to become dually enrolled with both Vocational Rehabilitation and Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS).
In January 2018, she officially became a Medicaid agency to provide Discovery, Job Development and Job Coaching Services. While she started as a one-person operation, Karianne now employs three job coaches through her agency, Central Employment Solutions. She still does all Discovery services and job development herself.
Since opening the agency in 2018, Karianne made 27 job placements of people with I/DD in community employment, and 32 clients overall through her contract as a VR vendor.
Sarah Moore, a personal agent with brokerage Full Access High Desert, said that having Karianne in the community has made a huge difference for people with I/DD.
“Before, if people said they were interested in employment, I had no place to send them,” Sarah said. “Kari connects with their hearts and their passions. She cares about the people she serves.”
Karianne said the key to being a good job developer is developing relationships in the community. Everywhere she goes in Prineville and Redmond, she talks to local businesses and finds out about their needs. Her business connections range from local restaurants such as Club Pioneer and Dillon’s Grill to a survival gear store, Prepper Up. Her first placement when she started job development was helping a woman in a power wheelchair with significant disabilities get a job at Club Pioneer restaurant. Now Club Pioneer owner Jim Roths said when he needs a new employee at his two restaurants (he also owns Dillon’s Grill in Prineville), he calls Kari.
“It’s hard to explain but it’s a natural ability to build relationships and to build trust,” Karianne said. “The businesses know I will provide the right employee with the right skill set, so they trust me. And the people I support know I am listening to their needs, and I am not going to set them up for failure. I want them to succeed – and that means a good job fit.”