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Community Work Services is guided by the belief that all people have value and that supporting individuals with disabilities to actively participate in all aspects of community life results in a more diverse, compassionate and stronger community for everyone. With that as a foundation, the agency works in partnership with employers to make a positive difference in the lives of the people we support by helping them find and keep individually meaningful community jobs.

longitudinal studies

Scientific Journal Article 1

Scientific Journal Article 2 (follow-up study)

Scientific Journal Article 2 (extended CWS version)

Cumulative Record

our guiding principles

Value of Work

Work is both a right and a responsibility. Everyone, regardless of disability, should have the opportunity to experience the sense of belonging that comes from making a contribution to their community. Work should:

  • Contribute to self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment;
  • Be a positive and enjoyable experience not only for the people we support, but also for their employers and co-workers;
  • Provide opportunities to develop mutually satisfying relationships; and
  • Allow an individual to earn an income.

Personal Growth

The people we support can best discover their personal potential when we:

  • Enable them to pursue their interests;
  • Emphasize their strengths;
  • Empower them to be the guiding force in making informed choices;
  • Ensure opportunities for them to develop new skills over time; and
  • Encourage relationships with others which enable them to feel part of a team.

Relationships Built on Trust

The relationships among our staff, our funders, the people we support, their families and their employers should be built on a foundation of trust. Trusting relationships are best fostered when we:

  • Treat people with respect and understanding;
  • Acknowledge other points of view; and
  • Follow through on commitments.

People can feel secure in the knowledge that our dedication to these relationships is unwavering.

Individualized Support

The services we provide should foster and encourage the inclusion and acceptance of the people we support as valued members of the community. Regardless of disability, everyone deserves access to all avenues to succeed. We are firm in our commitment to partner with employers, co-workers, families and others in the community to create a unique support network for each person that is:

  • Built around individualized strengths, needs and desires;
  • Flexible to accommodate changing support needs;
  • Long term in nature and available as long as wanted and needed;
  • Provided in integrated community settings; and
  • Designed to facilitate relationships with employers, co-workers and other members of the community.
We are dedicated to doing whatever it takes.

our history

Community Work Services, founded by Elizabeth (Betsy) Shiraga and Kim Kessler, has been providing community based employment services since 1984. The agency currently supports over 70 individuals with a wide range of developmental disabilities at their places of employment. Community Work Services assists individuals with developmental disabilities to work in the community by providing them with individualized assessment, job development, on the job training, and job retention services. A goal when finding a job in the community for an individual is to make sure that it is a "good fit" for both the individual and employer.

The agency also provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in a variety of recreational activities in the community. Currently, Community Work Services is fortunate to be working with over 85 different businesses and organizations in the Madison area who employ individuals with developmental disabilities.


our board of directors

(All Board positions are non-compensated)

Board Officers


Mary Kay Mussey

Retired Nurse
Veteran’s Administration Hospital
Vice President/Secretary

Eileen Ahearn

Retired Doctor
Veteran's Administration Hospital


Paul Karch

General Counsel
Independent Pharmacy Cooperative

Board Members

Paul Harrison

Development Coordinator
Access Community Health Centers

Randy Sarver

Human Resources Manager
State of Wisconsin–Department of Transporation

Lorene Seman

Retired Administrative Manager, Department of Radiology, UW-Madison

Alice Udvari-Solner

Retired Emeritus Faculty, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, UW-Madison

meet our staff

Executive Director

Gina Shea

Program Director

Jeri Murray

Program Managers

Cathleen Knick

Sarah Nack

Placement/Training Coordinators

Kristyn Chlebowski

Anna Peters

Leah Baertschi

Maddie Donahue

Lindsey Bachmann

Vocational Trainers

Tara McAweeney

Kristine Runstrom

Stacy Cognac

Taylor Klitzke

Kathleen Gammeter

Jessica Alsaker

Juli Gempler

Al Majkrzak

Alex Lalor

Elizabeth Swan

Katy Caron

Office Administrator

Eunha Song


our annual reports

2022 Annual Report
2021 Annual Report
2020 Annual Report
2019 Annual Report
2018 Annual Report
2017 Annual Report
2016 Annual Report

our newsletter

Fall 2023

Fall 2022

Fall 2021

Fall 2020

Fall 2019

Fall 2018

Fall 2017