Derek Shields is President of ForwardWorks Consulting, a disability inclusion and project management consulting company. A certified Project Management Professional, Derek is experienced in bringing project, schedule, stakeholder, quality, risk, communications and performance management protocols to disability inclusion projects, from large federal government programs to targeted retail endeavors.

With over 22 years of experience in disability, accessibility, employment and quality of life programs, Derek has trained hundreds of organizations on disability inclusion strategies, worked with global accommodations and domestic violence programs, wounded warrior transition services, vocational and rehabilitation research projects for Social Security beneficiaries and veterans, and other inclusion initiatives to improve quality of life for youth and adults with disabilities in the workplace, community and home.

Derek has worked with over 15 federal agencies, providing project management support services for contracts ranging from $30K to $15M. Clients include the Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, Department of Agriculture TARGET Center, Social Security Administration Ticket to Work Program and a variety of planning, performance management, accessibility, marketing, communications and research projects across the federal sector.

He has developed a network of public and private sector partners, including relationships with the assistive technology industry, vocational rehabilitation, mental health and workforce development systems. He has also developed partnerships with Tribal partners, homeless organizations, disabled veterans and military service organizations to help advance return to work opportunities for adults with disabilities and disabled veterans.

In 2013, Derek partnered with the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) to create the Section 503 Self-Evaluation Compliance Tool, a performance metrics tool embedded in the USBLN Going for the Gold project. This tool provides a broad assessment experience for federal contractors that delivers a checklist to improve remove barriers to enhance disability inclusion.

As a strategic partner of EIN SOF Communications, ForwardWorks has also supported the expansion of retail accessibility for a major computer company and supports increasing disability inclusion for aspiring media professionals with disabilities via the national Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 initiative. Working with EIN SOF Communications and Cornell University, Derek is creating the first Disability in Media Mentoring Opportunity Pipeline to increase employment opportunities in front of and behind the camera.

Derek Co-Chairs the National Disability Mentoring Coalition, a collaborative of national disability and youth organizations committed to increasing awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for youth and adults with disabilities. Besides coordinating the activities of the over 50 organizational members, he is also mentor in the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) Rising Leaders Mentoring Program, coordinates annual USDA Disability Mentoring Day activities for clients, and enjoys helping young people network from job search to job satisfaction.


  • Vice President Gore's Hammer Award (provided to our team at the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program)
  • President's George W Bush's Excellence in Government Award (presented to our team at the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program)
  • Co-founded the National Disability Mentoring Coalition, focused on increasing the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for youth and adults with disabilities.

Who I’ve Worked With

  • Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), a Department of Labor initiative
  • World Institute on Disability
  • Partners for Youth with Disabilities
  • EIN SOF Communications
  • Department of Defense, Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program
  • Department of Agriculture TARGET Center
  • Walter Reed Army Medical Center Assistive Technology Training Program
  • Department of Transportation Disability Resource Center
  • Department of Veterans Affairs, Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Service


  • Speaker
  • Consultant
  • Facilitator
  • Trainer

What I Offer

  • Disability inclusion consulting, training and technical assistance.
  • Project and performance management.
  • Mentoring program design, implementation and operations.