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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

image: NDEAM Walker Forge Presentation

As October comes to a close, Wisconsin DVR is celebrating a busy and successful National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

With events throughout the state, DVR recognized Wisconsin businesses who have diversified their workforce to include people with disabilities, the partners who work closely with our staff and consumers to achieve employment success for individuals with disabilities and our consumers who bring the drive and determination to succeed.

The DWD Secretary's Office participated in two of DVR's NDEAM events.

  • The first was a visit to Children's Hospital in Milwaukee, to recognize their involvement in project Search. The Program focus is on serving young adults with a variety of developmental disabilities. Program participants experience total immersion in the workplace. Students are on site at the business each school day for a minimum of six hours for an entire academic year. DWD Secretary Reggie Newson presented a commendation to the hospital and toured the hospital, visiting the departments where Project Search participants work. Event Press Release - http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/newsreleases/2012/121010_project_search_milwaukee.pdf.
  • DWD Executive Assistant Georgia Maxwell presented a commendation to Walker Forge in Clintonville. Walker Forge press operator, Jake Dudzik, sustained a spinal cord injury in a swimming accident that resulted in paralysis. Walker Forge committed to re-hiring Jake after re-training as a drafter. Jake has been working full time at Walker Forge as a drafter since March 2012. Pictured above, at the event, are (back row, from left) DVR Administrator Mike Greco, DWD Executive Assistant Georgia Maxwell, President of Manufacturing at Walker Forge Rick Recktenwald and (front) Jake Dudzik. Event Press Release - http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/newsreleases/2012/121016_wdeam_walker_forge.pdf.

Photos and details from the various NDEAM events around the state are being compiled into a DVR WorkWeb page. Kristin Rolling will send the link to all DVR staff when it is available.

DVR Highlighted in DWD Bulletin

image: Tom Draghi Profile

Tom Draghi, WDA Director in WDA 7, was recently featured in the DWD Bulletin, describing the role that DVR services play in helping DWD achieve its strategic goals.

Last fall, Secretary Newson presented the DWD Strategic Plan to focus the efforts and energies of all employees on fulfilling DWD's mission and vision. As a regular feature in the Bulletin, we highlight the contributions of individuals, working to help DWD achieve goals of the Strategic Plan and fulfill its mission and vision.

Quality Assurance Key to DVR's Success

Submitted by JoAnna Richard, DVR Deputy Administrator


In 2008-09 DVR struggled to meet the 6 required Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) standards and indicators. While Wisconsin was consistently successful in meeting the required 4 of 6 indicators, the economic downturn greatly affected our performance and DVR failed to meet the employment goal and was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). As a requirement of the PIP, Wisconsin had to plan, write, submit and execute a plan for improvement, including how we would meet at least 4 of the 6 mandatory indicators, addressing:

  • successful employment outcomes (indicator 1.1);
  • rehabilitation rate (indicator 1.2); and,
  • self-sufficiency standard at closure (indicator 1.6)

Wisconsin also was requested to address the failure to achieve the reporting category 2.1, which measures the ratio of minority to non-minority service rate. While this indicator is not one of the mandatory 6 indicators, RSA has made it a priority for states to show improvement and to ensure evenness of service delivery.

The Quality Assurance team was tasked with developing the plan and working with the WDA regions to achieve it.

One of the key successful tools used to achieve the employment outcomes was the re-establishment of the on-the-job training program. With the success of the OJT helping to achieve outcomes and with the enhanced attention to proper coding and categorization, Wisconsin was successful in having the PIP order lifted by RSA. And, as FFY 11 was completed, Wisconsin had met all 6 of the mandated RSA indicators, achieving success for the first time in the self-sufficiency indicator. Likewise, Wisconsin met the rehabilitation rate, the first time in over 9 years.

The Quality Assurance team felt that its work had been extremely beneficial to improving DVR's quality and decided to continue its focus on process and program quality. Additionally, QA added 2 of our Administrative Services Division (ASD) colleagues to the team, ensuring collaboration, transparency and enhanced fiscal accountability. Lorie Lange, a member of ASD's finance staff and Kathy Swenson and then Dave Varana of the ASD Budget staff joined the team to provide this expertise. Aimee Jahnke was added as a field and IRIS expert, rounding out a very diverse membership.

To read the full article and learn more about the DVR Quality Assurance Strategic Plan, projects and its members, visit http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/rehab_resource/newsletter/pdf_files/1112_qa_article.pdf.

Over-the-Phone Translation Services

image: Language Line Logo

Through a DWD contract, DVR staff have access to over-the-phone foreign language translation services that can be used when a consumer with limited English proficiency is either in a DVR office or is contacting DVR staff with a phone call.

The service, through Language Line Services, is easy to access:

  • Ask the consumer you are meeting with to please wait, or place the non-English speaking caller on conference hold.
  • Dial 1-866-874-3972.
  • Enter on the telephone keypad or provide the representative with Client ID # 5 3 1 3 0 1.
  • Press 1 for Spanish or 2 for all other languages.
  • Personal Code: First Name, Last Name and Telephone Number (this would be your name and office number).
  • An interpreter will be connected.
  • Tell him/her what you want to accomplish and give any special instructions.
  • Central Office receives and processes the invoice for the call.

Language Line has interpreters for almost 200 languages. While most interpreters are on staff and available, if you encounter a language that you think may be rarely used, you can contact Language Line at the phone number above to schedule an interpreter to be available when you are planning to meet/call the consumer.

There is more information about DVR's Limited English Proficiency plan and services/products at http://dwdworkweb/dvr/lep.htm.

EMDA Graduation

image: Annda Fosdick EDMA Photo image: Kathleen Enders EDMA Photo image: Aimee Jahnke EDMA Photo

Three DVR staff recently graduated from the Enterprise Management Development Academy (EMDA). Pictured above, from left to right, at the graduation ceremony are Anna Fosdick, Kathleen Enders and Aimee Jahnke.

The EMDA is the newest phase of the State's expanded enterprise management and leadership training programs. The goal of EMDA is to provide aspiring and new state supervisors/managers with enhanced learning opportunities to become effective, inclusive and innovative managers. It offers a series of management classes that focus on developing knowledge, skills, and cross-agency networking. Building cross-agency networks allows participants to collaboratively problem-solve common issues, as well as creating lifetime working relationships.

Google Search Appliance (GSA) Now Online

image: Google Search Appliance LogoEarlier this month the DWD Web Team (Dane Fjelstad, Grant Westfall and Jan Wolf) and BITS staff flipped the switch on DWD's new search tool, the Google Search Appliance.

Read the full Bulletin article to learn about how this new tool will help DWD customers search the DWD website: http://dwdworkweb/bulletin/2012/bull522.htm#story_06.

Workplace Wellness

WDA 3 - Submitted by VRC Kay Lechner

Spring and summer were busy seasons for the wellness-seekers of Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties. Along with creating a wellness bulletin board, a healthy resource book-exchange library, and a fruit-eating challenge, WDA 3 Wellness Coordinators Jill Rios and Kay Lechner also organized an April water-drinking challenge after a similar challenge was met with much success in other parts of the state. With 19 participants, nearly 140 gallons of water were consumed during the month of April in WDA 3, with some participants drinking over 90 ounces of water per day and noticing healthy changes in their skin, digestion, and energy levels. Participant Kim Bruno was so motivated by the water-drinking challenge that she initiated and coordinated the purchase of a water cooler for the Waukesha office, where currently 5-10 gallons of water are being consumed each week. The water cooler features hot and cold water spigots so those seeking to increase their fluid intakes can enjoy cold water or even a cup of tea. It continues to be a valuable addition to the office, with participants contributing a minimal amount biannually toward the shared cost, and reaping the rewards of easily-accessible, filtered drinking water. We are grateful to all wellness challenge participants in WDA 3 and look forward to our next inspiring fall wellness activities.

WDA 1 - Submitted by VRC Krysta Hannon

To kick-off the wellness initiative in WDA 1, it was important to make sure all could participate in ways that suited them. It was proposed that for our first activity would be a competition to have some friendly rivalry and teamwork within the WDA. Staff members were divided into two teams - Racine vs. Walken (Walworth and Kenosha counties). As it can be difficult to start any fitness routine, we started with a 15-minute time frame. Participants kept count of each day they spent of 15-minutes of activity (or more) that had an increased heart rate. The challenge was one-month in duration and a very close race. Racine ended up as victors by one point! Overall, it had great enthusiasm with 22 staff members participating. Two "Fitness Champions" were awarded for their participation as never missing one-day of activity. The challenge helped some start new fitness routines and others continue old ones.


image: Surprise Celebration Photo



WDA 2 staff recently surprised WDA Director Lea Collins-Worachek with a cake to celebrate her 12 years of state service.

The cake was presented at a WDA 2 staff meeting where they also had a chili making contest to raise funds for the Partners in Giving campaign.


TBI Handbook

In 2011, the Brain Injury Association of Oregon released The Brain Injury Handbook An Introductory Guide to Understanding Brain Injury for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals.

The handbook describes types of brain injuries, their effects and the vocational rehabilitation process for an individual with a traumatic brain injury.

Thanks for a Job Well Done

Joyce Jacobs, VRC - Rice Lake

Thank you so much for all the time and money spent on getting a Kubota for Ted to use on the farm. He absolutely loves it. He uses it every day. So far he's used it mostly for picking rocks. It's so easy for him to slide in and out of it. The hand throttle is working for him too. Thanks again.

Chari Farin, VRC - Madison

Thank you for your service, I very much enjoyed working with you. As I told you before, your empathy and understanding of my situation when I came to your office helped me more than you know. Thank you for being who you are.

Debra Soulier Ramsey, VRC - Rhinelander

Letter to WDA 6 Director, Patty Noland

I am writing to express my appreciation to DVR for the services I have recently received and in particular to my Rehabilitation Counselor, Debra Soulier Ramsey. Debra did an excellent job of assisting me to identify equipment that would help me to continue in my career. Her style of gently walking me through the process toward the fruition of my goals made the process much more pleasant than I would have anticipated. The equipment I have acquired to assist me in the functioning of my job duties has helped me beyond my greatest expectations.

I have had a disability for 34 years, from a spinal cord injury at age 22, resulting in paralysis from the waist down. As the years of post-injury have mounted, I have had a breakdown in some of my joints because of diminished musculature protecting them and the everyday stresses put on them. The acquisition of the equipment which Debra helped me to identify and pursue has given me the reasonable hope that I may be able to continue my work for many years to come.

Kristin Rolling - Central Office

Email from Anna Eggebrecht, WDA 5 Director

I just wanted to pass on a big THANK YOU from WDA 5. It has been great to work with you on our October activities; you have been very prompt, professional and flexible. We appreciate all your hard work. Without your help we would not be successful bringing public attention to the great work our employers, partners and co-workers do everyday.

Mark Poffinbarger, VR Supervisor - WDA 3

Email from Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin

Thank you so much for taking your time to come and spend with us and our families. I think Tuesday went really well. Employment is a hot topic for many of our families and as we continue to discuss it often I may ask you to come and present again.

Deepa Pal, VR Supervisor - WDA 10

Message was also sent to the DVR service providers who worked with the consumer

Just a few lines to express how magnificent I think you all are. I realize that, without your competent and professional assistance, none of this success would be possible. I appreciate also the friendship you all shared with me, with each step I felt your concern. Please accept my warmest gratitude for the part each of you played.

Shawn Savka, VRC - Wisconsin Rapids

Writing to say thank you for helping me get a job in the community. I got your letter last week, and I like my job. I think it is getting easier. I am remembering what to do on my job and the cab is getting me there on time. I feel good about having a job! I just wanted you to know that I appreciated all of your help.

Lynette Janssen, VRC - Mequon

I just wanted to thank you for resolving the issue of my training grant so quickly. I appreciate the efforts made by you and any other DVR staff involved in resolving the situation promptly and providing me with the financial assistance necessary to reach my educational goals. The support you and DVR provide me in my opinion is the difference needed toward successfully achieving my employment goals.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Amy May, VRC - Racine

Email sent to START/Meredith Dressel

I wanted to thank you for arranging Amy to come to CESA #2 yesterday. She did an amazing job in representing DVR and gave a burst of fresh air to the teachers in the relationship between DVR and the schools.

Brenda Kleven, CCP - Central Office

Email from VR Supervisor Julie Ferraro

I wanted to send you a quick note to recognize the service that I received from Brenda Kleven on Monday. I asked Brenda if she could check into an issue with alerts and one training grant payment. Brenda offered a suggestion that was very helpful so I could figure out where the issue was coming from. I found Brenda to be very professional and helpful in her email communication with me.

Mari DeJarlais, VRC - La Crosse

I just wanted to express thanks from my heart for all your help this past year. Every step of the way you believed in me - when I had no clue what my future was going to hold. Now I can say I love my job. Thank you so much.

Jerry Jorgenson, VRC - Ashland

Email from the parent of a DVR consumer

I first wanted to thank you for all you have done for (consumer name). I am simply overwhelmed with the support, encouragement and the purpose of this whole program - wow! I do not think college would be successful for her had it not been for DVR and you! Thank you so much.

What's New/Updated on the Web

Staff Updates

New Faces/Transfers:

  • Heidi Destree, Consumer Case Coordinator - Green Bay
  • Tamara Silha, Consumer Case Coordinator - Green Bay
  • Nicole Luebbers, Consumer Case Coordinator - Madison
  • Deepa Pal, VR Supervisor - WDA 10
  • Weneaka Jones, VR Counselor (LTE) - Milwaukee
  • Kathleen Enders, Contract Specialist - Central Office
  • Ashley Murray, VR Counselor - Eau Claire
  • Krysta Hannon, VR Counselor - Madison (Transfer from Kenosha)


  • None