Skip main navigation

Outdated or Unsupported Browser Detected
DWD's website uses the latest technology. This makes our site faster and easier to use across all devices. Unfortunatley, your browser is out of date and is not supported. An update is not required, but it is strongly recommended to improve your browsing experience. To update Internet Explorer to Microsoft Edge visit their website.

DWD logo

Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784

Oct. 13, 2023
CONTACT: DWD Communications

Bay Area Rural Transit Recognized for Diverse and Inclusive Hiring Practices

ASHLAND – Pat Daoust, transit manager for Bay Area Rural Transit, has expressed a personal connection with the organization's commitment to hiring people with disabilities, noting: "I've had a friend with a disability all my life and it's nice to see when they can get out and get a job because they want to feel a part of the workforce."

Because of its diverse and inclusive hiring and retention practices that welcome individuals with disabilities into its workforce, Bay Area Rural Transit of Ashland was presented with an Exemplary Employer award at a ceremony with Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) leadership on Oct. 12. The organization is one of 25 Wisconsin businesses being recognized throughout October, which Gov. Evers proclaimed as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Last year, more than 2,000 employers created more inclusive workplaces in Wisconsin by hiring people with disabilities.

“We want to help all Wisconsin employers create a workforce that reflects the diversity of our state, and Bay Area Rural Transit is leading the way in the Ashland community,” DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said. “We believe that when we all work together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable Wisconsin for everyone.”

Bay Area Rural Transit has formed a strong partnership with DWD's local Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) office over the years, and the organization takes great pride when DVR consumers employed at Bay Area Rural Transit move on to better jobs. In addition to providing employment for DVR job seekers, the organization also partners with the state to provide transportation to and from work, job shadow opportunities, and more.

The award ceremony was attended by local leaders, including Ashland County Administrator Dan Grady and County Board Chair Richard Pufall; Bayfield County Administrator Mark Abeles-Allison; Ashland Mayor Matthew MacKenzie; Mellen Mayor Terry Van Buren; Washburn City Administrator Scott Kluver; and Bay Area Rural Transit Board Member Mike Berlin from the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

All Wisconsin employers are encouraged to contact DVR and meet with a local Business Services Consultant who can connect them with a variety of free resources to help recruit and hire people with disabilities, build staff diversity and retain well-trained employees.

DVR helped over 3,350 Wisconsin residents with disabilities find work over the past year. Individuals with a disability looking for ways to find a job, keep a job, or get a better job are encouraged to contact DVR at 800-262-0050, visit a local DVR office, or visit the DVR website.

New Job Accommodations Training

To help provide employers with educational resources to diversify their workplace and create work environments that help retain employees, and to give employees information about their rights and responsibilities in the workforce, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) has created new online accommodation trainings for employers, workers, and job seekers.

The Accommodation Training Library consists of brief, informational videos that cover topics, including hiring people with disabilities, the reasonable accommodation process, disclosing a disability, disability discrimination, and other topics related to employment law. The new accommodation training videos can be found on the DWD Career Pathways website.

The videos were created as part of a U.S. Department of Education Career Pathways Advancement (CPA) Initiative grant awarded to DVR in 2021. The CPA Initiative is allowing DVR to create resources and opportunities to support DVR consumers as they advance in their careers.

Bay Area Rural Transit Manager Pat Daoust, center, holds an Exemplary Employer award surrounded by area leaders in front of the Ashland organization's sign.
From left to right, Bay Area Rural Transit Operations Manager Nick Esberner, Bayfield County Administrator Mark Abeles-Allison, Ashland County Administrator Dan Grady, Bay Area Rural Transit Board Member Mike Berlin representing the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Washburn City Administrator Scott Kluver, Workforce Development Area 7 Vocational Rehabilitation Supervisor Katey Perkkio, Bay Area Rural Transit Manager Pat Daoust, DVR Business Services Consultant Dawn Stocks, DVR's Deputy Bureau Director of Consumer Services Anna Eggebrecht, DVR Counselor Mckenzie Benton, Mellen Mayor Terry Van Buren, DVR Counselor Carol Heinlein, WDA 7 Director Thomas Draghi, Ashland Mayor Matt MacKenzie, and Secretary/Treasurer of Bay Area Rural Transit Board, Bay Area Rural Transit Board Member representing Ashland County, Ashland County Board Chair Richard Pufall.


Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.