Our Team

Cynthia Burrow, Founder & Project Director

Cynthia Burrow is the Project Director of the Virtual Job Coach, a program developed from a grant that her consulting firm, Strategic Education Solutions, LLC, received from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) in 2012. TCDD was looking for educational technology that could better prepare individuals with disabilities to find and keep lifelong employment.

Cynthia knew from the struggles with her own son, who was diagnosed with autism at age 3, that instructional materials are often inaccessible to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. They are too text-heavy, lack the incremental instructional approach that is so critical, or are so chaotic in appearance that they overwhelm the learner. Using her extensive background in instructional design and development and her experience with learners with autism, she assembled a team to create the Virtual Job Coach.

Her connection to the project comes from a very personal place. Even with adulthood on the distant horizon, Cynthia worries about her son’s ability to embrace his challenges and talents and strike out into the world of work. It can be a very scary place for a person with developmental disabilities, but also incredibly rewarding.

“When I see the faces of our Virtual Job Coach pilot testers as they describe landing a job they truly enjoy —when previously they felt they were not qualified to hold any job—I see my own son’s face. I see him grown, independent, and most of all happy.”

Cynthia has worked in the education industry for more than 20 years, serving both private and public educational entities as a program evaluator, instructional designer, writer, and editor. She is the owner of Strategic Education Solutions, LLC, an educational consulting firm serving educational publishers and public education agencies. Cynthia currently serves as an Advisory Board member for the SXSWEdu conference, an annual event focusing on innovations in learning that is part of the internationally recognized South by Southwest® (SXSW®) family of conferences and festivals. She is also a member of both the Council for Exceptional Children and the American Educational Research Association.  She has a MA in teaching and curriculum development from Alaska Pacific University and a BS in Speech from Northwestern University.

Alisa Miller, Virtual Job Coach Project Coordinator

Wearing a variety of hats, Alisa Miller joined the Virtual Job Coach (VJC) team from the project’s inception. She has conducted research, written and edited instructional materials and content, recruited and overseen pilot testing groups, and collaborated with an amazing Project Advisory Team. She would love for the VJC to become a standard part of transition curriculum in all public middle and high schools. There is such a great need for the type of support that the VJC offers to people with disabilities that she would like it to reach as many people as possible so that those who need it have the tools and support to start adulthood fully prepared for success.

 

Alisa has a personal connection to the mission of the VJC because her son is on the autism spectrum and was in middle school when the project began. She was anticipating the kind of help he would need when he reached young adulthood, and she could also see a great need for transition support in the public schools.

“As the VJC has grown, so has my son. He is now 17 and a senior in high school. Several months ago, my son decided he wanted to get a part-time job. I had him use parts of the VJC, and we worked together on the partner support guides. When he went for his first interview, he was hired on the spot. Seeing the effectiveness of the project firsthand is affirmation for all the hard work so many people have devoted and makes me proud to have been a part of the VJC.”

Alisa has been a freelance writer, content developer and social media coordinator, frequently focused on education and advocacy, for more than nine years. She has also been an advocate for the autism community for more than 14 years. Alisa has a BA in psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has completed coursework toward an MA in English literature from Texas State University.