New leadership, new approaches at Decatur and Huntsville VR offices

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New faces and new ideas are on their way to the Decatur and Huntsville Vocational Rehabilitation Service offices.

Britt Frankum, who has served as the field supervisor for the Decatur office, will assume the same role for the retiring Phyllis Barrett in Huntsville. Frankum’s position will be filled by Nancy Adams, who has most recently served in the state office.

Frankum began his career with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services as a VR counselor in Anniston. He served in that capacity from 1995 to 2013 and was promoted to the position of senior counselor before his promotion to supervisor of the Decatur office six years ago.

The move to Huntsville is exciting for Frankum on many levels. He and his wife, Tonya, who is a rehab specialist based in the Huntsville office, reside in the Rocket City with their two children. He said this will allow him to spend more time with his family.

Stepping in for Barrett will be a tough chore, Frankum said, but he knows his predecessor is leaving a solid staff and a solid foundation.

“There are big shoes to fill,” he said. “Phyllis has done a fantastic job there in Huntsville. It is a very, very strong unit. They always make their goals.”

The proximity of Phoenix, a nonprofit partner that helps people with disabilities find success in the workforce, is a major asset, Frankum said. The facility is directly across the street from the Huntsville office, and he said he already plans to set up a meeting to discuss their partnership.

“I look forward to working more closely with their staff,” he said. “There are a lot more services there that they have in the Huntsville area. That is exciting.”

Frankum said he looks forward to working with the local school systems and leading the staff through Alabama Workforce and Opportunity Act transitions and continuing to help counselors manage their caseloads.

Helping people with disabilities reach their maximum potential has been a lifelong passion for Adams.

Her sister sustained a traumatic brain injury at 2 years old that left her with a developmental disability, and Adams herself battles macular degeneration.

It was her sister who helped Adams first become interested in sign language when she picked up for lessons that were being taught to a fellow pupil at her special needs school. This soon became an effective form of communication.

“We learned it as a family – me, my mom, and sister. We had our own special language,” she said.

Years later, this knowledge helped Adams secure a job as a sign language interpreter. She became a vendor interpreter with ADRS in 2000 at the Tuscaloosa office and made the move to Huntsville in 2004 as a deaf support specialist.

As she grew into her job, she saw the need to earn a graduate degree. Adams furthered her education while working full time by earning a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Auburn University, along with a Master Mentor Certification from Troy University.

She then became a staff interpreter and merit employee.

After meeting her husband, Stephen, the door opened for her to move to Montgomery in August 2015 when she was hired as a rehabilitation specialist in the Staff Development and Training section of the Human Resource Development division.

Adams currently serves on Board of Directors for the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, Alabama School of Alcohol and other Drug Studies Board, and the Licensure Board for Interpreters and Translators. She provides presentations and training at various events.

Adams said a majority of her career has centered around blind and deaf services, but she is excited to branch out into general VR.

“It’s a chance to grow and to learn and to take on many different challenges,” she said. “I’m really excited about it.”

Adams’ goals are simple.

“I’d like for our unit to be the best in the state,” she said. “I want us to be a cohesive, family type of team that gets the job done.”

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