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Kenneth J. Gill, Ph.D

Acting Director of IEI

Acting director of the Integrated Employment Institute. He is co-director of Region II Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, founding Chairperson and Professor of the Rutgers Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions at Rutgers, and serves as the Associate Dean of Faculty Development in the School of Health Professions. In his role as department chair, he oversees 50 staff and faculty, and supervises academic programs from the associate through doctoral levels. He is co-author of Psychiatric Rehabilitation (3rd ed., 2014) and People in Recovery as Providers: Building on the Wisdom of Experience (2010) and more than 70 peer reviewed articles and chapters. As a graduate of Columbia and Marquette Universities, he combines a background in measurement evaluation and statistics with his experience in psychiatric rehabilitation and academic administration to develop, implement, and evaluate, training, implementation, and dissemination projects aimed at supporting individuals with serious mental illness to live full lives in the community. 

Amy Banko, MS, CPRP

IEI Faculty

Amy Banko is a Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Counseling Professions at Rutgers University. In addition to providing course instruction, Ms.Banko is a trainer and consultant at the Integrated Employment Institute of Rutgers. Within this role, she facilitates trauma-informed, Supported Employment & Supported Education training and technical assistance to enhance practitioner competencies and program outcomes. Previously, Ms. Banko was a clinical contributor on three NIDILRR funded studies focused on education, employment,  and trauma for individuals with mental health conditions. Additionally, Ms. Banko is a co-author of a best practice manual for providing career services to transition-age youth with mental health conditions. She currently serves as Co-Investigator on two NIDILRR funded studies related to postsecondary education, mental health conditions, and trauma.

Ms. Banko’s research agenda focuses on rehabilitation counseling and social/transformative justice as well as critical disability theory as she seeks to build interventions and counseling services that bolster the social determinants of health for those with mental health conditions. Her passion is addressing disability stigma, internalized stigma, ableism, and improving the social determinants of health for people with disabilities and those who experience the intersectionality of disability with other marginalized and oppressed identities. Additionally, Ms. Banko leverages her lived experience of a mental health condition to inform her research, course instruction, and counseling. Ms. Banko is currently attending her doctoral studies at Kean University for Counseling and Supervision with a focus on the treatment of trauma.

Francine Bates, EdD, LPC

IEI Faculty

With 25 years of experiences, Dr. Bates has worked as a vocational specialist and manager of a supported employment program providing services to individuals with mental health conditions. She conducts research on the topic of employment services and has developed training manuals and co-authored several workbooks. Additionally, she is on the board of directors for the NJ chapter of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). 

Joni Dolce, MS, CRC

IEI Faculty

Joni is an assistant professor at Rutgers School of Health Professions with many years of experience working in supported employment services, providing both direct employment services and supervising staff. She has authored and co-authored several articles and workbooks on employment. Joni presents and provides workshops and trainings locally and nationally on a variety of employment related topics. Her research interests include staff training as well as studying employers’ views on hiring individuals with mental health conditions. 

Ni Gao, Ph.D., LCSW

IEI Faculty

An Associate Professor and employment consultant.  Dr. Gao has provided employment-related training, consultation, and technical assistance to numerous mental health agencies and Veterans Centers in a number of states. Before joining Rutgers, she had 15 years of clinical and managerial experience in community mental health agencies serving individuals with SMI, including Family Service of Burlington County and Steininger Behavioral Health Care. She also conducts research in the area of vocational rehabilitation and has published more than 20 articles. 

Brittany Stone, MS, CRC

IEI Faculty

A Lecturer & Doctoral Student at Rutgers University. Much of Brittany’s work as a researcher, trainer, and service provider has focused on promoting the career development of people with psychiatric conditions. She has worked in a variety of community based mental health settings and was a founding member of the NJ Supported Education Learning Enhancement and Resource Network. She also develops and provides training and technical assistance to agencies and staff seeking to improve education and employment outcomes for people with mental health conditions in New Jersey and surrounding states. 

Ifrah Akhtar

IEI Administrative Assistant & Creative Support

Ifrah Akhtar is a Rutgers University graduate. Ifrah has a variety of experiences from being a Gilman Scholar and studying abroad in South Korea, being an alumni of the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers, creator of the Muslims Abroad guide, and currently editor-in-chief of the digital publication and media platform, MODEST. Her work and expertise centers around storytelling and fostering a collaborative environment where design and knowledge intersect.