ATLANTA, GA (October 27, 2021): On October 25, Governor Brian P. Kemp swore in five newly-appointed members of the Georgia State Rehabilitation Council at the state’s capitol. Mandated by the federal government, each state that operates a state-funded vocational rehabilitation program must establish a council to assist and collaborate with the respective state’s vocational rehabilitation program. The Georgia State Rehabilitation Council works closely with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency to develop plans for services and make recommendations to assist individuals with disabilities achieve employment and independence.

The Georgia State Rehabilitation Council consists of members who represent a broad range of individuals with disabilities as well as voices from business, industry, government, and those who may be current, former, or prospective clients of vocational rehabilitation services.

The newly sworn in members are below.

Juliet Hardeman is a mentor in the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership, where she supports families of students with disabilities in Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. Hardeman has also taught high school students with disabilities and holds a Master of Education from Georgia Southern University. Additionally, Hardeman has served in the Army Medical Service Corps for over 21 years, and she has been deployed globally in support of combat and humanitarian missions. She and her husband, Frank have been married for over 32 years and have raised 2 daughters on Wilmington Island, Georgia.

Jerry Haywood is the Program Coordinator and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Fort Valley State University. Before accepting a full-time faculty appointment, he worked as Director of Academic Counseling & Disability Services for nearly 10 years where he served as an advocate and liaison for students with disabilities within the University community. Haywood’s research and program development strategies on African American Males in Higher Education have been well recognized by colleagues and scholars across the nation. He attributes much of his success and his passion to his experiences growing up in a small town in rural Georgia. Haywood received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling, both from Fort Valley State University. In 2012, he received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Capella University. In addition to his experience in higher education, he has over 15 years of experience and training in both group and individual counseling.

Katie Hearn works for the Atlanta Braves as Senior Coordinator, Digital & Accessible Services, and is their Club ADA Coordinator. At the age of 28, Hearn was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri, a rare disorder related to high pressure around the brain due to an excess of spinal fluid, resulting in the loss of her eyesight. In 2018, the Braves awarded Hearn with the Walker Banks Award for her extraordinary customer service. Hearn is passionate about providing opportunities to Georgians with disabilities to live, work, and thrive in our state. She resides in Smyrna.

Joy Norman served for 18 years as the Director of the Center for Accommodation and Access at Columbus State University. Recently retired, she continues to work as a part-time instructor at Columbus State University and gives self-advocacy presentations for Georgia high school students with disabilities for High School High Tech. Norman recently resigned from the Columbus Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities after serving 6 years as chair. Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson proclaimed September 1, 2021, as Joy Norman Day in Columbus. Norman is married to Mickey Norman. They have a son and daughter and 6 granddaughters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health science and a master’s in community counseling.

Aarti Sahgal is the founder of Synergies Work, a 501c3 that is committed to expanding business opportunities for people with disabilities. By providing mentorship, training, and ongoing support through their network of industry experts and volunteers, the organization helps individuals find that special spark and turn it into a business. As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, Sahgal has always been an advocate for her son and resisted services for her son that might isolate or disempower him. Prior to founding Synergies Work, Sahgal worked as a consultant to the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, building inclusive communities and workforce strategies for individuals with different abilities and for three years with Parent to Parent of Georgia as a diversity coordinator. She currently serves as a secretary on the board of Georgia APSE. Sahgal holds a degree in business administration and has worked in the for-profit world for 14 years.

For more information about the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency or the State Rehabilitation Council, please visit: