VR Blind/Deaf Assistant Commissioner Curtis Glisson accepted the Marguerite McKinnon Service award on behalf of all ADRS staff. The award, presented by the Alabama Council of the Blind at their annual conference in Montgomery this September, recognizes ADRS staff for outstanding service and for improving the lives of blind individuals in Alabama.
“Of all of the types of honors and accolades that are out there,” said Glisson, “the ones that are always the most meaningful are those that come direct from consumers or consumer groups. We always strive to make a positive impact on our consumers, so there is no greater feeling than being recognized for those efforts by the individuals we serve.”
For many years, Marguerite McKinnon selflessly served blind individuals in Alabama by escorted them to doctor appointments, physical therapy, grocery shopping, or anywhere else they needed to go. McKinnon also provided emotional support and assisted families with end-of-life arrangements. Following retirement, she continued to serve blind individuals on her own time and without pay. McKinnon received the Lotus Award presented by the Women’s Committee of Spain Rehabilitation Hospital in recognition of statewide volunteerism in 1998.
The award, named in McKinnon’s honor, was presented to Glisson by ACB President Joan Garrett.
Congratulations to ADRS’ VRS Blind/Deaf program!
Sept. 28, 2017
ADRS Supported Employment Coordinator Tina Dortch received the Brenda McComb Leadership Award at the 2017 AL-APSE conference in Mobile. The award is presented each year to a leader in the field of supported employment.
Dortch began her career in rehabilitation as a counselor serving high school students. Her success there allowed her to move into a position of leadership serving individuals with the most-significant disabilities. Dortch continues to provide innovative leadership in supported employment by serving on several interagency work groups and is instrumental in the success of several supported employment programs, including Project SEARCH.
“I’m humbled by the award,” said Dortch. “It’s an honor to be recognized by my peers, but my accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without the many dedicated people I work with each and every day to achieve positive solutions.”
Each year, the Brenda McComb award is presented to a “mover and shaker” who works to expand and improve employment outcomes. Past winners have included rehabilitation administrators, Department of Mental Health administrators, and agency executives.
Congratulations to Tina Dortch!
Aug. 7, 2017
Governor’s Office on Disability Executive Director Graham Sisson recently earned a doctorate in rehabilitation counseling and leadership from Auburn University.
Sisson, who presented and defended his dissertation on reasonable accommodations, said he plans to present core details from his extensive research at an upcoming Executive Leadership Team (ELT) meeting.
“In terms of what this means for our department,” said Sisson, “is that it increases our core knowledge regarding counseling practices. This adds an additional layer to counseling and my experience as an attorney.”
Sisson has been with ADRS since 1998, currently serving as the state’s ADA coordinator and assistant attorney general. He was appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley to serve as the director of the Governor’s Office on Disability (GOOD). Sisson also teaches a doctoral course on disability law and history at Auburn University.
Congratulations to Graham Sisson!
Feb. 8, 2017
Tonya Frankum has joined Transition Services as a rehabilitation specialist. The position was previously held by longtime ADRS staffer Becky Fields, who retired last year.
“Taking over for Becky — it’s a little overwhelming at first, but I’m excited because I’ll be doing so many different things,” said Frankum. “From College Prep to the poster-journalism competition, to working with job coaches and in our career centers, to assisting with YLF and Project SEARCH, there’s enough to keep me busy.”
Frankum is a 16-year veteran of the department who began her career in 2000 as a welfare-to-work counselor. In 2001, Frankum became a rehabilitation counselor specializing in transition. Frankum has experience working with the local juvenile court system, jointly funded job coaches, and local universities.
“This new position is a wonderful opportunity to become even more hands-on with the consumers we serve and the community in which we serve them,” Frankum said. “I love being part of the team and to have an innovative or creative role with transition that puts me at the center of the action. I’m thrilled to be in a position that will positively influence thousands of people statewide.”
Congratulations to Tonya Frankum!
Aug. 11, 2016
Tasha Harrison-Betts was recently promoted to VR unit supervisor in the Mobile office.
Harrison-Betts, who will celebrate her nine-year anniversary with the department this May, has been working in her new supervisory role with ADRS since October.
“I’m really proud of the great work my unit is doing,” said Harrison-Betts. “Over the last couple of months, we have worked really hard to build the Smart Work Ethics program and get it into the schools. I’m enjoying what we are doing as a unit, and I hope the quality of our work speaks to my quality as a leader of the team. I want to lead by example, but also take a team-approach. If I maximize each of my staff’s personal strengths, then I maximize the strength of my team as a whole, and that, in turn, can make it happen.
Harrison-Betts is a graduate of the most recent Leadership Training Institute (LTI) class. Before her promotion to unit supervisor, she had worked as a rehabilitation counselor since joining the department in 2007.
Congratulations to Tasha Harrison-Betts!
April 14, 2016
Melissa Alexander is the new social work administrator and office coordinator for the Opelika CRS office.
Alexander assumed her new supervisory role Feb. 16.
“A good leader has to be informed and be able to recognize personal strength and encourage staff to strive to be the best in their abilities,” said Alexander. “I really believe in CRS and what our office does within the community and for persons with disabilities as a whole. I’m not here to reinvent the wheel — I want to start where our staff is, highlight what we are already doing well, and build from there.”
Alexander holds a licensed clinical social worker private independent practice (LCSW-PIP) certification, and worked as a mental health therapist before joining the department in Dec. 2014.
“In my own observations throughout my professional career, I must say that CRS is the most well-rounded organization I have had the pleasure to be a part of,” Alexander said. “Our services are excellent, our mission is critical, and I want to do everything in my power to keep this valuable service going for the many families we serve.”
Congratulations to Melissa Alexander!
April 14, 2016
Eddie Albright was recently selected as the new VR unit supervisor for the Anniston office.
Albright, who started his new position Feb. 1, has more than 23 years of experience as a vocational counselor.
“I firmly believe in the power of strong and effective leadership,” said Albright. “The way I see it, I can set a good example by getting in there and getting my hands dirty. No one is going to outwork me, and if my staff knows that, then I feel they will respect me more as a supervisor.”
Albright has been with the department for his entire professional career and is a 2002 graduate of ADRS’s Leadership Training Institute (LTI).
Congratulations to Eddie Albright!
April 13, 2016
Kimberly Wright has been selected to be the new office coordinator for the Muscle Shoals CRS office.
Wright joined ADRS last August and has served as acting office coordinator since Pam Longcrier’s retirement last October.
“Since I’ve been a part of CRS,” said Wright, “I’ve been overjoyed and blessed to work with our families in such a positive and meaningful way. The experience at ADRS has been amazing for me. A big focus of ours over the past year has been on growing our office and spreading the word about the great services CRS offers, and these efforts have been very successful. We are getting more pediatrician referrals, enrolling more children in our area, and our first wheelchair wash received a huge outpouring of support and a great response from our community.”
Wright previously worked with the Department of Human Resources in Lauderdale County, where she helped place children into foster care homes.
“I enjoyed my time at DHR, but I felt like I had accomplished so much there and was definitely ready for a change,” Wright said. “CRS is a welcome career change because I am still working with families, just in a different way.”
Congratulations to Kim Wright!
Aug. 21, 2015
Cassie Sigler-Allen was recently selected to be the office coordinator and social work administrator for the CRS office located at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham.
Sigler-Allen assumed her new role July 16.
“The new position is exciting because it’s about fostering relationships,” said Sigler-Allen. “We are working very hard to strengthen the rapport between CRS and Children’s of Alabama. Of course, there are going to be challenges to overcome — moving into a new supervisor role and learning about the specific populations served out of this office — but I’m definitely anticipating positive things to come from my new role.”
Sigler-Allen joined ADRS in 2007 as a social worker and was promoted to social work specialist for the CRS office in Homewood in 2010. She is a graduate of the most-recent Leadership Training Institute (LTI) class, which concluded in May.
Congratulations to Cassie Sigler-Allen!
Aug. 10, 2015
Nancy Brown has been named the department’s new staff development and training specialist.
Brown will assume her duties with Human Resources Development (HRD) in mid-August.
“I’m excited about this new opportunity,” said Brown. “Eleven years ago, I began my career with ADRS in Huntsville, and in that time, I’ve learned a great deal about leadership and professional development. I’m enthusiastic to apply my years of experience with Deaf and Blind Services to this new position.”
Brown joined ADRS in 2004 as a deaf support specialist, where she provided job readiness training, job development and placement, and business relations services to consumers and employers. In 2011, she earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources management and was promoted to staff interpreter II. Two years later, she earned her master’s in rehabilitation counseling from Auburn University and also successfully completed ADRS’s Leadership Training Institute (LTI).
Brown has experience in developing and leading various successful trainings for the Department of Defense, NASA, and the interpreting community.
“With the right tools, we’re all able to achieve success,” she said. “I have a passion to inspire, and I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my career.”
Congratulations to Nancy Brown!
July 22, 2015
Tonya Beech has been named the new CRS district supervisor for the Mobile and Jackson offices.
Beech began training with current CRS District Supervisor Bobbie Jo Trammell on July 16 and will assume full duties when Trammell retires Sept. 1.
“Taking over for B.J., who is an amazing supervisor, will be difficult,” said Beech. “There are not a lot of services in Mobile or Baldwin Counties for children with disabilities outside of CRS, so there are many families out there counting on us — counting on me. It’s a big responsibility, but my nursing background has prepared me to rise to the challenge.”
Beech has been with ADRS since 1998, working as a nurse/nurse coordinator in the CRS office in Jackson. During her time there, she grew the office, overseeing the addition of clinic space and an audiology booth. She is a graduate of the 2012-2013 class of the ADRS Leadership Training Institute (LTI) and credits that experience with sparking her interest in and passion for supervision.
Congratulations to Tonya Beech!
July 21, 2015
Jason Martin was recently named statewide accessibility specialist for professional staff who have visual impairments.
Martin, who started May 11, replaces longtime staffer Bill Boules.
“My position here at ADRS is unique,” said Martin, “in that I exclusively serve and develop materials to improve the accessibility needs for our professional staff. If our staff face accessibility problems at work, then how are they able to serve our consumers?”
Martin, who currently works with our blind staff, brings more than five years of professional experience in his field to ADRS.
“Even though I have only really worked in this field for half a decade now, I’ve been involved with blindness my entire life,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be here and working with everyone at this department has been a pleasure.”
Congratulations to Jason Martin!
June 30, 2015
Nick Votava was promoted to VR unit supervisor in the Homewood office, replacing Jennifer Smith, who retired at the end of March after serving ADRS for 36 years.
“Taking over for Jennifer, obviously I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Votava said about his promotion. “With staff coming and going, this unit is always evolving, and I want to reaffirm a sense of unity among our employees to ensure we are all in step and on the same page. I’m planning some new in-service trainings as well as some team-building activities. There are great things on the horizon.”
Votava has more than 12 years of experience in the field of rehabilitation. In addition to working with VR as a counselor and senior counselor, he previously served as head counselor at Pine Hill Day Camp, as a crisis response consultant with Bradford Health Services, and as an employment specialist and job coach for Workshops Inc. in Birmingham.
Congratulations to Nick Votava!
March 26, 2015
Lafacial Moore was promoted to VR unit supervisor in the Homewood office, replacing Pam Mobley, who retired at the end of February.
“This promotion means a lot to me, personally,” Moore said. “It’s a great honor to me to be serving this state, and I firmly believe that great leadership matters, and I’m excited to bring that to what I feel is the best unit in the state. We are at a transitional time for the agency, and I’m humbled and excited to be playing a part in that.”
Moore has been with ADRS since 1998, when she started with the State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL)/Homebound program. Moore transferred to VR in 2004, becoming a senior rehabilitation counselor. Moore received her master’s in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Alabama in May 1995 and her doctorate in counselor education from UA in December 2004.
Congratulations to both Lafacial Moore and Pam Mobley!
March 26, 2015
Daniel Spencer, a business relations consultant in the Gadsden office, was recently named the Gadsden Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year. Spencer had an opportunity to speak at the Chairman’s Gala, where he was presented the award.
“Daniel has been a go-getter since the day we hired him,” said ADRS Business Relations Coordinator Peggy Anderson. “He works well with staff, our partners, and reaches out to businesses to put people back to work. He’s great at his job, which is great for our consumers.”
Micah Williamson, supported employment specialist, added, “Daniel is representing our agency in a very positive way within the community, and he is absolutely deserving of this recognition.”
Congratulations to Daniel Spencer!
March 20, 2015
Assistant Commissioner James Myrick was recently recognized by his peers as the recipient of the 2014 Owen F. Wise Professional Award, presented each year by the Alabama Rehabilitation Association (ARA). Over the years, Myrick has been actively involved as a professional member of the National Rehabilitation Association and served as president of both the National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns and the ARA. All told, Myrick has a distinguished career of more than 35 years in the field of rehabilitation services.
Congratulations to James Myrick!
March 6, 2015
Auburn University graduate and ADRS consumer Patience Marsh was recently named the recipient of the Carl H. Nowell Success in ADHD Award. The award, presented at the 2015 Southeast Regional ADHD Conference, recognizes success in overcoming obstacles due to ADHD. During Marsh’s time at Auburn, she served as a spokesperson for the Office of Accessibility, advocating for students with disabilities, and also served as an ambassador at the 20th International Quality of Life Awards.
Congratulations to Patience Marsh!
March 4, 2015
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