The Associates

MANDY DOOCY, MSW, LICSW,  Program Director/Social Coach
B.A. Organizational Management and Leadership, M.S. in Social Work
 507 530-5084

Mandy has a strong track record of successful employment outcomes.   She works effectively with her time and resources, and is able to teach work related skills to job seekers. Mandy enjoys being a trainer, often training new staff.   She is skilled at program development and management. Mandy oversees LJ&A’s southern MN services, guiding the team and providing leadership. She is a Blandin Foundation community leader, working to build community through leadership. Mandy was awarded the MRA Placement Person of the Year 2017.  Mandy provides targeted therapy for work through social coaching services.

MICHELLE ARMBRUSTER, Employment Specialist II
B.A. in Sociology, M.A. in Vocational
Rehabilitation Counseling  507.271.9693

Michelle is a creative and focused Job Placement Specialist.  She brings her natural organizational skills and attention to detail to the working relationship of Job Seeker and Employment Specialist.  Michelle is a strong communicator and is thorough in making certain details are addressed.  Michelle was awarded MRA’s Placement Person of the year in 2020.  Michelle uses supports to guide job seekers through the ups and downs of job searching and is skilled in a range of pre ETS services.  

picture of DEAN DeGROOT

DEAN DeGROOT, Employee Development Specialist/Social Coach
B.A. Psychology, M.S., Behavior Analysis & Therapy  612.789.9596

Dean has expertise in assessing and understanding various aspects of behavior.  He works to assist job seekers in understanding their potential and unique ways of fitting into work and other environments.  As a Social Coach, Dean supports and guides individuals—helping them to refocus direction and manage anxiety as they find work. He assists job seekers to develop enhanced social, emotional, and vocational capacity to work through Job Exploration Services. Dean recently launched a book called “Game Plan: An Insider’s Guide to Effective Career Assessment”. For more description and ordering information, please check:

MARK LEWIS, Employee Development Specialistpicture of MARK LEWIS
Ph.D. Human Performance, M.Ed. Training & Development (Private Sector), B.S.Ed. 
French & History  651.491.4778

Mark is an Employee Development Specialist, human performance consultant and expert at documenting work—the sub-tasks, tasks, and outputs expected of individuals as they perform their jobs.  His capabilities include identifying the present or missing knowledge, skills, and organizational factors that have impact on performance at work. Mark addresses process/systems issues when they inhibit individuals from success on the job.



MIKE SCHAITBERGER, Employment Specialist
B.S. Psychology  612.816.9165

A career business services professional; Mike is strongly attuned to business, including hiring needs, providing qualified candidates, the entire process of getting job seekers into good jobs. Mike’s focus is on identifying skills needed for jobs and in assisting individuals with securing employment. Mike is creative, upbeat and business savvy.

LIZ COLE, Employee Development Specialist
B.S. Vocational Rehabilitation and Special Education, M.S. Vocational Education with Special Needs Emphasis  612.242.3418

Liz is a career special educator/work coordinator from the metro area. Her expertise is in preparing youth and young adults for employment and post-secondary education and training. Liz has evaluated students’ job skills through classroom activities, work assessment, job shadowing experiences, workplace tours and community-based employment. Liz has helped students identify their interests using assessments, in-school activities and on-line resources and research. Liz understands school systems, special education case management, transition from school-to-work, and working with community resources and partners. Liz believes that the people she works with deserve to have meaningful experiences that leads to gainful employment.

C. STEVEN RIEHL, Employment Specialist II

picture of C. STEVEN RIEHLMn Rehabilitation Association Job Placement Division Placement Person of the Year 2021 award B.A. Sociology/Mass Communications  763.568.3223

Steve approaches the complex issues of employment and barriers with a compassionate and pragmatic style; exercising sensitivity and logic to the process with positive employment outcomes. Steve gives his best to the job search, always going that extra mile.  Steve has helped many satisfied people with becoming successfully employed.  He applies a practical approach to job search—locating client-relevant job openings and assuring that applications and support materials are complete.   Steve was awarded the 2021 Placement Person of the Year by Minnesota Rehabilitation Association.  Steve is hard-working, diligent, and instills hope for the job seeker to find employment.

MARGIE SILLERY, Employment Specialist I
B.A. English, Certified ASD Specialist  612-508-5927

Margie Sillery is a career professional, balancing strong communication skills, personal experience, and a strong sense of advocacy to the ever-evolving world of vocational services.

Margie has a solid passion and desire to serve people with disabilities.  She began her career in employment services as a Discovery Consultant, doing customized employment.  From there she branched into employment services and job coaching.  Most recently, she has collaborated with teams focusing on work experience, job shadows, post-secondary, and career exploration.

Her approach is person centered and focuses on choice.  She works with the client job seeker to determine individualized job shadows, informational interviewing experiences and community employment.  As a job coach Margie works with the person served and the employer.  This collaborative approach benefits the employer and the person served.  She uses positive strategies to teach her clients what value they are as employees.

Margie brings best practices, common sense and strong and helpful communication skills to the work scene.  Ultimately job seekers benefit as does the team surrounding our job seekers.

Margie holds a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University.  She has successfully completed training through AUSM and served as an advisory member to the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.


picture of JERRY JUDKINS

JERRY JUDKINS, Employee Development Specialist
B.A. Liberal Arts, M.A. 
Liberal Arts/History  651.436.2193

Jerry performs Job Developer services and is instrumental in helping to set up internships, work experiences, and in locating job leads that are a good match for our job seekers.  Jerry provides career exploration and Labor Market Information to assist in learning more about specific occupations.  Jerry is a skilled interviewer who has been instrumental in arranging ideal work sites.  Jerry provides support to individuals needing to connect and touch base regularly.

ELIZABETH JONES, Director of Operations
B.S. Vocational Rehabilitation and M.Ed.
 Vocational Education  651.497.5312

Liz is committed to working with people with disabilities to attain self-sufficiency through employment. Liz has worked to build existing services, expanding the company to meet demands of referrals to out-state areas.  Through planning, LJ&A has expanded services to include DHS 245d Employment Services.  Liz is honored to be able to serve people with disabilities in their employment journeys. Her mission is to assure quality services and outcomes through offering resources of qualified and compassionate staff.

The Support Team

Pat BienfangPAT BIENFANG, Administrative Assistant, Corporate Compliance Officer  651.481.0090

Pat is an experienced vocational rehabilitation professional dedicated to supporting quality and effective systems service delivery to people with disabilities seeking employment.  Pat has had a rich professional path of working in state VR systems including Iowa, Oklahoma and Minnesota. Pat shares her systems knowledge though collaboration and practical implementation. Pat has provided leadership and guidance in active roles with the National Rehabilitation Association and Minnesota Rehabilitation Association (NRA and MRA).  Pat’s skills and drive assure cross system service delivery and collaboration.  Pat assists LJ&A with service provision planning, check and balances with CARF, DHS, DEED and regulatory standards, compliance and operations to support program development.

Rachel JennerRACHEL JENNER, Bookkeeper, Human Resources  651.481.0090

Rachel assists with day to day operations, manages payables, receivables, payroll and financial reporting for LJ&A.   Rachael is part time while she provides services to small businesses in the twin cities Metro Area through her company, Essential Business Services. Rachel is also the treasurer and board member for Allied Charities of Minnesota and provides annual training to CEO’s and officers on managing nonprofits and charitable gaming. Rachel is helpful and informative on advising on best practices for small business like LJ&A and the various supporting organizations they interface with such as nonprofits, Department of Labor, DEED, MMB and DHS.

EH LAY, Data Specialist  651.587.9716

Eh Lay has been key to data tracking and development at LJ&A since 2010.  Eh manages all referrals, authorizations, reports and processes invoices through using our access data base.  This information is stored and managed on our intranet system. Through diligence Eh has managed an ever-growing amount of data and generates daily, monthly, quarterly and annual reports.  These reports are helpful for tracking outcome data for the many services we provide.  Eh is detail oriented, adaptable and continues to be a stable contributor to LJ&A and to the foundation of data management.