Joan Kester

Joan Kester
Assistant Professor, Special Education & Disability Studies
(202) 994-1534

Dr. Joan Kester oversees the online transition Master's program, the online transition certificate programs, and the collaborative vocational evaluation training program.

Previously, Dr. Kester was a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Rehabilitation Counseling Research and Education, Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Center, providing technical assistance and continuing education to vocational rehabilitation professionals and their partners across a six-state region.

Throughout her career in the field of vocational rehabilitation, Joan has advanced the civil rights of people with disabilities. Dr. Kester received national recognition for her work in the successful transition of youth with disabilities. She enhanced the accessibility of one-stop services to customers with disabilities through the development of extensive staff development strategies. In her prior work experience, her job development program received national awards.

Dr. Kester has her doctoral degree in human and organizational learning through the Executive Leadership Program at the George Washington University, with a research area of knowledge management, social theory of learning, communities of practice, secondary transition, and interagency collaboration.

Dr. Kester graduated summa cum laude from the George Washington University, receiving her Master's of Art degree in rehabilitation counseling. She is a certified rehabilitation counselor. She is the Past President of the PA Rehabilitation Association and as volunteer adult ally with the PA Youth Leadership Network to advance youth leadership and youth development efforts at the state and national levels.

Her specialties include: communities of practice, learning communities, collaboration and teambuilding, youth development and youth leadership, disability rights, advancing employment of individuals with disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, interagency collaboration, systems change in government programs, job placement/supported employment, evidence based supported employment practices, social networking, leadership, assistive technology, business partnerships, and Workforce Investment Act System.

In the News

Dr. Joan Kester and several special education and disability studies doctoral and master's students presented at the 2017 PA Community on Transition Conference. Amanda Szczerba, a master's student, co-presented with Dr. Kester in a session featuring her capstone project, "Career Development Opportunities for Students with Disabilities." Eric Duer, a recent master's graduate, presented "Entrepreneurship on a Budget." Dr. Kester and doctoral student Matthew Flanagan collaborated with Temple University and the PA Youth Leadership Network to present research findings in a session entitled "Transition Discoveries: Tools & Resources to Improve Transition Practices." Dr. Kester co-presented with Julie Stella and Matthew Flanagan, doctoral students, a session entitled "Digital Inclusion: Let's Brainstorm!"

Dr. Joan Kester was featured at the 2017 Virginia Division for Career Development and Transition Conference. She presented a preconference session entitled "Engagement and Collaboration: Connecting Research & Practice," as well as they keynote entitled "National Trends in Secondary Transition."

Dr. Joan Kester presented preliminary findings of research at the 2017 Secondary Transition Capacity Building Institute. The session was entitled Transition Discoveries: Authentic Voices of Youth & Families Research Project.

Dr. Joan Kester presented a webinar entitled Unlocking Potential: Promoting Strengths and Inspiring Success, Youth Development and Youth Leadership with a team from the National Secondary Transition Community of Practice. Her focus was on research on a youth engagement continuum.

Dr. Joan Kester attended the United Nations World Autism Awareness Day Autism Advantage Luncheon with current GSEHD student Carol Salter (master's, special education and disability studies) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Ms. Salter is Assistant Vice President of Workforce Solutions, Easter Seals, Inc.