|We've got NEWS|
|Tuesday, January 26, 1999 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
DWD News Office
Dixon named to top state vocational rehabilitation post
Madison, Wis. Thomas E. Dixon of Madison has been appointed by Secretary Linda Stewart as administrator of the Vocational Rehabilitation Division in the State Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
Dixon, an attorney and director of training and development for the State Public Defender, will begin his new duties Sunday (Jan. 31).
He replaces Judy Norman Nunnery, named by Stewart as a Special Assistant to the Secretary. She has been the administrator since January, 1987.
Dixon is the former chief litigation counsel at both the Youth Policy and Law Center, where he litigated cases on behalf of children and youth, and the Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy, where he represented clients with mental illness and other disabilities.
He was counsel in the 1972 landmark case of Lessard v. Schmidt, where a federal three-judge panel held that the states civil commitment laws were unconstitutional because they denied due process. Several appeals by the state to the U.S. Supreme Court were unsuccessful. He also has managed a project for the American Bar Association serving people with disabilities.
At the Public Defenders office, he supervised a statewide training program for over 500 state employes and 1,400 private attorneys who are appointed as public defenders in individual cases.
Dixon also was the editor there of the Wisconsin Defender, a scholarly journal of education and research on criminal law issues. He also personally trained staff on issues affecting people with disabilities in the criminal justice system.
He is a 1971 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School, and has practiced law for over 25 years. Dixon will receive $85,000 a year in the DWD post.
The division provides vocational rehabilitation services to eligible persons with disabilities so that they can obtain and maintain employment. It jointly administers the states "Pathways to Independence" program with the State Department of Health and Family Services. That program provides people with severe disabilities with long-term health care coupled with intensive vocational rehabilitation services.
It has a staff of 393 and an annual budget of $66,214,682.
The Department has an annual budget of $1.3 billion and about 2,400 staff. It was established in mid-1996 as part of a reorganization of state government. Many of its programs previously were assigned to the Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations, which was abolished.
In addition to Dixons unit, DWD has seven other divisions -- Connecting Education and Work, Economic Support, Equal Rights, Unemployment Insurance, Workforce Excellence, and Workers Compensation, in addition to Administrative Services.