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Headshot of Keith Bourkney

Keith Bourkney

Position: Executive Director
Email: kbourkney@employu.org

As a native of Buffalo, New York and a die-hard Bills fan, I relocated to Florida in 2001 where I joined a lifelong friend in assisting him in running a marketing company in Orlando, Florida. In 2009 we opened an office in Casselberry, which happened to be located next to a Vocational Rehabilitation Office. I met some of the VR Counselors and learned about the services they provide. They informed me that they had clients who may be a good fit for our business, so I made the decision to contract our company as a Voc Rehab Vendor where I could receive workers through on-the-job training. Over the next couple of years, we employed several people who were referred from VR. What stood out to me was that they showed a great appreciation for the opportunity to work with us. They were loyal and they would do their best every day. I appreciated working with them and once I learned that there was an opportunity to help people with disabilities with employment on a full-time basis, I made the decision to open employU.  

Once I started receiving referrals and started working with the individuals, I realized that this was what I was meant to do. I quickly became passionate and driven to build employU to become a great company. Within a year I was able to recruit an amazing staff, including my wife, and started developing systems and processes that would result in high levels of activity for our customers. We worked in the rural areas first, where our services were most needed and found success quickly. Since 2012 we have brought our methods to over 40 counties in the State of Florida with multiple services and have helped thousands of people embark on new careers. Early on, we made the decision to never turn down a new referral and instead grow to the demand. We’ll continue to expand, and we will also continue to discover ways that we can improve and help our customers better. 

Keith Bourkney

Executive Director

As a native of Buffalo, New York and a die-hard...

Sheila Novak

Position: Employment Specialist Job Coach
Email: snovak@employu.org

I’m Sheila and I’m an Employment Specialist Job Coach at employU. Growing up, I’ve always considered myself to be a passionate person who puts my all into the things I do. At one time, a colleague gave me an alternate name of Ashalata, which in East Indian, means Vine of Hope. Identifying with that name, I consider myself a P.I.A. (Passionate Individual named Ashalata). I believe it truly encompasses my roots and life experiences.

I was born in Painesville Ohio, which I think is perfect name of a place for any mother to give birth (Get it? PAINesville.) I attended Florida State University and received a B.S. in Business/Marketing and Sales. Prior to joining the employU team, I worked in employment services for 6 years, developing business and community relationships for the purpose of identifying and creating employment and on-the-job training opportunities for clients. I also had a successful career in business consulting and sales, project administration, and accounting. These successes have helped shape my ability to identify and understand the needs of each unique client and employer. I think every client is like a wrapped gift, just waiting to discover the surprise and the value inside the package. I believe that every person possesses their own gifts and talent, and that it is my job to discover what those are and match them with the needs of an employer. Everybody needs an opportunity to find and reach their potential and to never limit how high their bar can be raised, but instead help them to help themselves raise their own bar.

Some of my personal passions are spending time with my family and a special dog named Rocky, whitewater rafting, any water activity, and golf. I also enjoy volunteer work, successful grant writing for small non-profits who serve people that are economically disadvantaged or disabled and organizations that help youth. I have been a volunteer mentor in Take Stock in Children for 13 years. This is a statewide mentoring program that upon HS graduation the student earns a 4 year scholarship.

I think my job with employU is the best in the market because I am able to help community individuals and employers reach their goals and objectives. I also like knowing that I am doing my part to help local, state, and federal economies.

Sheila Novak

Employment Specialist Job Coach

I’m Sheila and I’m an Employment Specialist Job Coach at...

Erika Lazaro

Position: Transition Instructor
Email: elazaro@employu.org

Erika Lazaro

Transition Instructor

Tito Velez

Position: Admin Assistant
Email: tvelez@employu.org

Tito Velez

Admin Assistant

Jon Ingraham

Position: Transition Instructor
Email: jingraham@employu.org

Jon Ingraham

Transition Instructor

Joni Short headshot

Joni Short

Position: Transition Instructor
Email: jshort@employu.org

Joni Short

Transition Instructor

Headshot of Heather Beamenderfer

Heather Beamenderfer

Position: Transition Coordinator
Email: hbeamenderfer@employu.org

Heather Beamenderfer

Transition Coordinator

Barbara Markowski

Position: Employment Specialist
Email: barkowski@employu.org

Barbara Markowski

Employment Specialist

Lindsay Daniels Headshot

Lindsay Daniels

Position: Vocational Evaluator
Email: ldaniels@employu.org

My name is Lindsay Daniels, and I joined the employU team as a Vocational Evaluator in February 2020, right before the pandemic. Not the best time to start working but I have to say that I am so glad I did. This position is extremely rewarding, and it has been so nice to be able to connect with and help others who are interested in starting or continuing their careers.

I moved to Florida in the summer of 2016 (also not the best time of year to move to Florida!) and have enjoyed being close to the water and absolutely love the wildlife down here. I am from Virginia originally but was fortunate to move around as a child. I now say I am from Massachusetts because I lived there the longest. Although I love the winters down here in Florida, I really miss the Fall up north.

I have past experience with another non-profit in Massachusetts, working for the Department of Correction in providing substance abuse programming to both male and female inmates. I started off in Assessments, ensuring the incoming inmates were placed in the proper programs while incarcerated. I then worked my way up to the Director of Programs for nine institutions across the state where I provided leadership and clinical direction in the development, delivery, and evaluation of substance abuse programs. I have had the opportunity to facilitate relapse prevention and cognitive behavioral therapy groups to both staff and inmates.  I have lead staff trainings on classroom management, treatment planning, and record-keeping management.

After eight years working for the Department of Correction contract, I switched gears to provide substance abuse counseling, group treatment, and case management to clients at an outpatient setting in Worcester, Massachusetts.

I love working with people in the community and value what I have learned from my clients. Each person has so much to offer, and it is exciting to see and hear of short and/or long term goals being accomplished.

Lindsay Daniels

Vocational Evaluator

My name is Lindsay Daniels, and I joined the employU...

Michael Barnard Headshot

Michael Barnard

Position: Employment Specialist Job Coach
Email: mbarnard@employu.org

Michael Barnard

Employment Specialist Job Coach