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Commitment Is Critical for Workshops and Those They Serve

MASWM Legislative Co-Chair Brian Hogan Stays involved and then some with his volunteer work for Missouri workshops and those they serve.

Brian Hogan’s motto might be summed up with a single word: “involvement.”

As executive director of Blue Valley Industries in Kansas City, he’s not only involved in running one of the Missouri’s larger workshops, he’s also neck deep in state and federal legislation that impacts shops throughout the nation. As a workshop director and legislative co-chair for MASWM, he’s very aware that the main focus is the lives of people with developmental disabilities, their families and supporters.

“When you see people at work and interact with them on a regular basis, you realize it’s not theories,” he said.

A veteran of 19 years in workshop services, Brian served earlier for five years with Goodwill of Kansas City where he oversaw training services. Before that, he conducted evaluations for a Kansas City rehabilitation program. A graduate of Washburn University, Brian also has experience in community employment and other services, as well as sales and workshop efforts like CARF accreditation. More than anything, he sees “choice” as a key issue for workshops throughout Missouri.

“The goal of all of us is to give everybody every opportunity,” he explained. “Those are not always the most difficult goals, but they are so meaningful. That’s what we’re all about.”

Facing Challenges

Brian acknowledges that providing opportunities isn’t always a priority everywhere in the country. That’s not good for people needing services in those locations, but it also leads to problems when federal legislation targets problems in ways that can set back Missouri workshops.

“Missouri workshops aren’t always like those in other states,” he explained. “There have been lawsuits in some states from problems that we’ve avoided here. And sometimes there’s legislation that doesn’t recognize that.”

Trying to communicate Missouri needs and Missouri successes is a major reason Brian volunteers to serve as one of MASWM’s legislative co-chairs. With co-chair Kit Brewer, he works extra hours in his office and frequently travels to Jefferson City or even Washington, D.C. He finds the work challenging, but very worthwhile.

“One of the biggest things we try to tell federal legislators about is Missouri successes,” he noted. “Missouri is very different from many states. It is very logical – everything is geared to help individuals take the next step in their employment. We provide jobs, but we also teach social skills and work skills that can help an individual move to other employment, whether it’s in a workshop setting or with a competitive job in the community.”

Brian even has praise for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which almost overnight created a new system for high school graduates with disabilities to seek employment services. Although the 2014 law required a massive effort by workshops and Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation Services, it was implemented with few problems here.

“WIOAA is simple, and it’s good for people,” Brian said. “It has brought vocational rehab back into the process, and that’s been meaningful and positive.” And while there are modifications that need to be made, he sees that as just one of his jobs while communicating with federal representatives.

Seeing is Believing

Like others, Brian believes one of the best communication strategies involves workshop tours, especially by legislators. “I don’t know everything, but I often see legislators that haven’t been in a workshop,” he said. “They don’t know how they work because they haven’t seen one. That’s where each community, each workshop, can tell its story. It also makes my job easier.”

A resident of Greater Kansas City with four children and seven grandchildren, Brian is also involved in a foundation that assists those who are homeless. He admits his current level of involvement in topics like federal legislation was not part of his original plan.

“People retired and suddenly I was one of the old guys,” he concludes with a laugh. “But you do have step up. I consider myself in the ‘legacy mode.’ I’m asking, ‘How do we set up services so that people are cared for after my time is done?’ I want to see that through.”

MASWM The Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers
If you have questions, please contact: President Aaron Martin – (816) 796-7070 or;
or Legislative Chair Brian Hogan – (816) 483-1620 or