David Dillon Overcoming the Obstacles to Employment through Vocational Rehabilitation and WINTAC Super Stars, Rachel Anderson and Betsy Hopkins
Intro: VR Workforce Studio. VR Workforce Studio. Inspiration, education, and affirmation at work. Welcome to another episode as we open up the VR Workforce Studio to champion the courageous stories of vocational rehabilitation from individuals with disabilities. Listen to our amazing stories. “Feel the joy and share in our inspiration.” We’ll also meet the champions of business and industry. “I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that some of our best employees have disabilities.” And hear from the VR professionals who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping individuals with disabilities go to work. Now here’s the host to the VR Workforce Studio, Rick Sizemore … Begin countdown … along with the executive director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation [inaudible 00:00:52] Four … three … two … one.
Anne Hudlow: Welcome to episode 61 as we continue celebrating disability employment awareness month. Today in the big inspiration showcase, David Dillon’s story with reflections on his disability and how VR helped him train for a job at Eastman Chemical.
Rick Sizemore: Also special guest Rachel Anderson and Betsy Hopkins from WINTAC, their top suggestions for VR agencies implementing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act and Cherie Takemoto with a national clearinghouse update.
Anne Hudlow: We are so thrilled to welcome David Dillon to the podcast. David’s vocational rehabilitation program helped him train for a job in manufacturing after he attended one of Virginia Manufacturing Association’s Dream It Do It Academies. He now works at Eastman. Welcome to the podcast David!
David Dillon: Glad to be here.
Rick Sizemore: Tell us about your job at Eastman.
David Dillon: Well I’m what is considered around the area of which work the dye house … What we do is we dye film. We get film from different manufacturers and we dye it a specific color. Our biggest industry is for window film, but we also have a big hand in pretty much anything you can imagine. Your cell phone, laptop, TV screens, all have film on it. Even your Pop Tart wrappers. They are made out of …
Rick Sizemore: Even the Pop Tart wrapper.
David Dillon: Even the Pop Tart wrapper itself. Eastman has a hand in pretty much everything and I’m privileged to be a part of it.
Rick Sizemore: What’s the title? What do they call you down at Eastman?
David Dillon: Well according to the guys I work with, they call me a floater, but my actually job description is a machine technician level one.
Rick Sizemore: What’s an average day like at Eastman for you?
David Dylan: For me, well I love it. I couldn’t say much ill about it. It’s busy. It’s a mixture of controlled chaos and excitement. There are times when you’ll have nothing to do for a little while because all your work’s caught up, but then all of a sudden you have to help the machine operators take the old film off, put it on a rack, put labels on it, and then put new film on the machine and get the machine up and running again. So you have to work with the flow of everything else and that’s kind of the reason why I’m called a floater because I have to work multiple machines and I help them get the machine going.
Rick Sizemore: Are you by yourself or do you work as a member of the team?
David Dylan: If you don’t work as a team the machines would fall apart. Given my description as a floater, I have to go everywhere. I don’t work one machine or two machines. I work four machines. My job description works the entire dye house so I have to help everybody when I can. Getting to know the people you work with is really important, and maintaining a good positive relationship is essential to the job. Say we have to change a roller on the machine that rolls the film through the machine, if we have to change that we have to have good coordination between one another and we have to like each other whether we want to or not. So we have to learn to put our personal differences aside and work together as a team for the better good.
Rick Sizemore: Eastman sounds like a great place to work. Now you’ve made the journey to this exciting place that you work in from one day in your life realizing that you had a disability. Can you take us back to the day when you began to understand that you had a disability?
David Dylan: This is going back quite a few years. Personally as a small child I really didn’t care. My mind was everywhere but in one place. I really didn’t focus on my disability that much. To be honest, I didn’t care. I was a kid exploring the wonders of the world. I spent most of my time as deep in history books as I could stick my nose.
Rick Sizemore: Like history?
David Dylan: Oh, yeah. I’m a history buff. When I first started to realize the gravity of the situation, it didn’t really hit me until I was in middle school. I had ADHD really bad and I could not sit still. I have a hard time doing that now.
Rick Sizemore: Have you been given any accommodations at Eastman because you have ADHD?
David Dylan: No. No I have not.
Rick Sizemore: You’re just a worker?
David Dillon: I’m there. I’m in the mud and the grit with everybody else. I’m no one different.
Rick Sizemore: It sounds like … I had a quick conversation with your field rehabilitation counselor and she says you’re doing a tremendous job and they’re really happy with your work.
Field Counselor: They have told me if I have anymore Mr. Dylan’s to please send them. They would love to have more of him because he’s exactly what they love to have in an employee. When I had them at the October event they said more of that would be great.
David Dillon: I just do the best job that I can possibly do.
Rick Sizemore: Well I think Eastman is very lucky to have you. Walk us through that training program. Tell us how you got here and how it started.
David Dillon: When I came here the manufacturing field opened up to me. It was a book that I had left on a shelf that was covered in dust. I had never looked at it and how exciting it truly was. The mathematics, the science. When I came here Jim Leech did an excellent job teaching me all of the stuff and the wonders and the stuff behind manufacturing, how important it truly is to today’s society.
Rick Sizemore: Take us back to the manufacturing technology training lab and tell us about some of the hands on activities that helped you get the skills you needed to go to work at Eastman.
David Dillon: Well the process flow was probably the most important thing. It was one of the first things that we did, but it kind of built the core team aspect that we had to gain when we first started training in this course. When you first get started, Jim made it clear that team work is going to be essential. So he gave us the process flow task which was to create a process flow about say mowing the yard or making a sandwich. The tables that we were in, we had to kind of come together to make this process flow map. I’m still using that today at work.
Rick Sizemore: You were part of the Dream It Do It Academy.
David Dillon: What we did at the Dream It Do It Academy was the water purification set up that we had going on. That kind of was the icing on the cake. It tied everything together into one neat little package that displayed everything that we had learned.
Rick Sizemore: And this was over a pretty short period of time?
David Dillon: Yes. Yes it was. It was one week. Given how new it was it was kind of a rough mixture of everything that we would be getting in the main course, but it covered basically the essentials of modern manufacturing, the history behind manufacturing. What it did was it goes through a purification cycle and once it comes out we have a certain team that was put together to put the water in the bottle. It then came to myself and a friend of mine named Andrew. It was my job for quality control. I was told to weigh the water and make sure it weighed the correct amount and then send it to Andrew to put the cap and the sticker on it. So it went through basically a simulation as to how a manufacturing process worked.
Rick Sizemore: In your life, back in the local community, you’ve blossomed.
David Dillon: Yes. Yes, I have.
Rick Sizemore: Can you tell us about that.
David Dillon: Actually me and my dad are going hunting more. That’s something that he’s apparently been looking forward to for a long time and so have I. I have succeeded beyond my own expectations. I’m happy. I have a new car that’s practically a house sitting out there in the parking lot now. And I’m just tickled to death with everything I’ve overcame. But I have to remain humble. That’s something that I’m trying to find difficult because of how much I have blossomed at home. I mean I’ve achieved something at home that even some of my own family members dream about and I have to remain level headed and down to earth. I can’t let my own success impede my judgment.
Rick Sizemore: What a wonderful perspective. Donna talked about the peer group that you have at Eastman being somewhat older gentleman, not all male, some females as well, but that they have such a positive culture to work in that you’ve really integrated yourself into that culture and it’s a positive culture.
David Dillon: It is extremely positive and another reason why I like it, it is extremely blue collar.
Rick Sizemore: Yeah.
David Dillon: It is funny and it is awesome to work there. I could not be happier with the people I’m working with.
Rick Sizemore: Tell us any final thoughts and reflections you have about disability employment. For anyone who is wanting to go into this kind of field, just talk it out. That’s one thing that you need to come out … I know it can be hard. I’m kind of an oyster. I like to be in my shell. But you have to come out and you have to talk about these things. If it’s something that you really want to do the people here at WWRC will go above and beyond the call of duty to help you get that job. I’ve talked to some people here who aren’t even in my job field and my training field about certain things and they have been more than helpful with me. I’ve went to some people for advice. I went to other people for different career opportunities like, “What did you do in life? How did you start out?” I mean I’m motivated by different things right now, but I’m still progressing and that’s something that if you start talking to people you will find people here that are willing to help you. They want you to succeed in life.
David Dillon: David Dylan, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the podcast.
Rick Sizemore: It’s been a pleasure to be here Rick.
David Dillon: Thank you.
Anne Hudlow: Rick recently attended the 11th annual Summit on Performance Management excellence in Oklahoma City where he had the opportunity to interview Rachel Anderson and Betsy Hopkins, two of WINTAC’s leading experts on WIOA implementation. Betsy Hopkins is a training and technical assistance manager for the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center, otherwise known as WINTAC. Betsy was most recently the director of the division of vocational rehabilitation at the main Department of Labor and is a past president of CSAVR which is the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation.
Anne Hudlow: Rachel Anderson has had the pleasure of working with individuals with disabilities in a variety of capacities over the past 18 years including ten years in which she worked for the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Rachel is currently a training and technical assistance manager at the WINTAC and is also at the National Disability Institute providing national consulting and training for VR counselors, administrators, and their partners. Let’s join Rick, Betsy, and Rachel now at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from the Performance Management Summit.
Rick Sizemore: Welcome to the podcast.
Rachel Anderson: Thank you
Betsy Hopkins: Thank you.
Rick Sizemore: WINTAC is such a focus as we emerge WIOA in this country, across this country. So we’re excited to be up close and personal with the WINTAC super stars. Tell us a little bit first of all for those of us who might be joining us for the first time, what’s WINTAC?
Rachel Anderson: Yeah so the WINTAC is the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center. We are a center that is funded through RSA which is the Rehabilitation Services Administration. I believe there’s seven other technical assistance centers and we are the one that has been charged with helping VR state agencies implement WIOA. So we have a number of different topic areas. We help people with things like preemployment transition services, supported and customized employment, section 511, integration into the workforce system, and performance and reporting which is what Betsy and I focus on.
Rick Sizemore: And Rachel you’re also with NDI.
Rachel Anderson: Yeah, so we’re with National Disability Institute which is a non profit out of Washington D.c. Their mission is the economic advancement of people with disabilities. So aligns really nicely with the work we’re doing with VR agencies in helping people with disabilities find employment and careers.
Rick Sizemore: Betsy you’re in grad school working on a doctorate?
Betsy Hopkins: Yes. I am attending the University of Massachusetts in Boston School of Global Inclusion and Social Development. I’m in the process of completing my dissertation.
Rick Sizemore: Congratulations.
Betsy Hopkins: Yes, right. Similar to working for NDI it really has dove tailed nicely with all of the work that we’re doing when you think about inclusion and the work that I’ve been doing in the school and the work that we’re trying to do. This work around WIOA is really all about inclusion of people with disabilities in work and their communities. So it’s been nice.
Rick Sizemore: This interview is being recorded at the 11th Annual Performance Summit here in Oklahoma City. One of the questions I have … We’ll start with you Rachel … What are your top tips and suggestions for VR agencies implementing WIOA.
Rachel Anderson: I would say work together. Work with your peers across the country. I think that we’re all in a place that we understand that we’re not alone, but there are so many components whether it’s program evaluation like a lot of the people who are here at this summit for or whether it’s policies or training or administrative control or internal control. So there’s all these components that we all have to implement. I guess my first tip would be to work together across the country. Don’t feel like you ever have to do this alone. And build your own network with people who are in like positions in other agencies. I do think the summit conference is a good example of that can work because it’s like minded people trying to do the same work to improve VR programs and outcomes.
Rick Sizemore: Betsy, your top suggestion for implementing WIOA.
Betsy Hopkins: I used to be a VR director before I joined the WINTAC and I think one of the top things really to think about are what as an agency, what are your values and culture? And really try to make sure that you’re going to try to keep those values and culture of your agency intact. This is a change in how we’re going to be talking about the work that we’re doing, but it’s … I think, and I think we would agree, that the changes that are being brought on by WIOA are going to help. Bottom line, they’re going to help individuals with disabilities. You can still have the changes occur in your agency that will help individuals with disabilities, but still also maintain your values and culture in your agency.
Rick Sizemore: People who listen to this podcast will know that I’m a big proponent of WIOA and I’ve said many times, “They got this one right.” You know those six drivers align so beautifully with where we’re headed to help people along that career pathway. Many of the VR professionals around the country, when they think about WIOA, a couple of those six measures really jump off the page. Workforce credentials … And I know you’re involved in so many conversations about the WIOA recognized workforce credential and then the process that VR agencies have to go through to vet that workforce credential. What are your suggestions for agencies who are going through that process?
Rachel Anderson: Gosh. It is probably the hardest things that ageneses are working on through the performance lens at least. Credentials and skill gains is definitely where they seem to be struggling the most. Suggestions I would say people need to work with their WIOA core partners so that they can have some common definitions, common ways to report and discuss some of these training programs because what we’re finding is that there are a lot of training programs out there and there are a lot of way that people with disabilities and people without disabilities can gain skills and try to figure out where they want their career path to be, but under WIOA credentials are very clearly defined in what that means. It’s really important to work with core partners across the state to have that alignment, but also take your time. I think that a lot of agencies are in the process of identifying what their program is doing right now and maybe common training programs that they support their clients are participants in and trying to figure out if they do meet the definition of this or how they can expand and maybe some initiatives in states that they need to increase.
Rachel Anderson: For example, Betsy and I are talking to a lot of states about building career pathways that are inclusive for people with disabilities as well as looking at apprenticeships for people with disabilities and gaining those skills on the job rather than having to gain entry level skills at a training program or on the job and then getting stuck there, but really getting people on that career pathway and having opportunities for advancement, I would say. But take your time, but talk to everybody. We can’t do it alone and everybody does define these things in their own way. It’s very complicated.
Rick Sizemore: David Dillon who we heard just a few minutes ago describing the process of going through the DOL sort of sanctioned pre apprentice program and also getting a manufacturing technician one and a manufacturing specialist credential through Wilson Workforce. He describes going to work at Eastman Chemical and the process of opening that door with Eastman was really based on the fact that the industry recognized those two credentials through the Manufacturing Skills Institute. So there’s a credentialing process and much of that was driven by the industry need for that credential. What would you say about that?
Rachel Anderson: I would say that’s right in alignment with the focus and emphasis out of WIOA. We really are talking about job driven training programs that result in careers and employment that have skills and where people can have long term success. They can have opportunities for advancement. They can make higher wages and actually be self sufficient and take care of themselves and their families. Maybe even have financial capability so that they can have 401k’s and they can have a future. I do think that that’s the first step to having long term success.
Rick Sizemore: So many of the people that I’ve run into lately are talking about the Wisconsin Model. I believe you have that posted on the WINTAC website.
Rachel Anderson: Yes, we do.
Rick Sizemore: Tell us a little bit about the Wisconsin Model and the process it takes you through to get a decision on vetting a credential.
Rachel Anderson: We really like the Wisconsin Model. They were one of the first to publicly announce that they were doing something formal like this. I’m sure that other states are doing something similar and we also know that some of our partners are trying to develop something similar because it has been effective. They created a performance advisory committee that has a representative from all of the six core partners. That advisory committee does a number of things related to performance so they meet and they do cross training across the state, across core programs. They will help influence and give feedback to each other’s policies as it relates to performance as well.
Rachel Anderson: hey also worked on some skill gain and credential guidance as a team. So each of them created a guide and a tool and a resource that came from their local core partners to bring down to the field in each of their agencies. They’ve really aligned policy and definitions. something that I really find to be effective and I hope that other states do something similar is that they have a mechanism for where if I’m a VR counselor and I am trying to send one of my participants to a training program and I’m not quite sure if it meets the definition of a credential or not, maybe it’s still a good training program that I’m going to send the client to anyway, but I need to know how to document it right. Does it fit in this world that we’re talking about? They created a checklist that their counselors and other staff from core partners in their state that they can fill out and they can submit it to the performance advisory committee and they work together to determine whether, “Yeah. In Wisconsin we think this does meet the definition,” or, “No, it doesn’t.” Then they have a list that people can go off of. It really is a collaborative approach to this new way of doing practice.
Rick Sizemore: So many people have said that WIOA once you boil it down to its essence, what Congress and the president were really attempting to do with WIOA is really alleviate poverty. What are your thoughts about that?
Betsy Hopkins: Whether that was their intent or not, I think that everything that the law is … How it’s written and all of the pieces that they have especially when we talk about the focus on our youth which is very exciting to me to think about some of our kids, especially when you think about kids with very significant disabilities having the expectation that at a younger age they’re really going to start moving toward a career and talking about work at a younger age, setting that expectation early on so hopefully when they graduate from high school they’re going to be able to choose easily, especially if they’ve had a work experience, a paid work experience while they’re still in school … They’re going to choose to go towards employment versus something else.
Rachel Anderson: I agree with that and I think that sometimes you see in our field that we set up resources and opportunities for people with disabilities or people with low economic statuses, but those programs are set up to keep them there. So we’re really excited to see once we’re further along and we can see some of the data and the outcomes, we’re really hopeful that a lot of these changes do have an impact on that.
Rick Sizemore: One of the businesses we’ve been able to partner with is CVS Health. A key figure at CVS is a fellow named David Casey. A phrase he uses many times is, “Stable jobs creating stable communities.” That’s very inspiring when we look to the consumers that we’re trying to help along that career pathway. I thank you both for your time and your involvement in the podcast. We’ll of course include all the contact information for Rachel and Betsy in the show notes at VRWorkforceStudio.com. Keep up the great work and we think you for being involved in the show today.
Rachel Anderson: Thank you.
Anne Hudlow: Thank you, Rick.
Rick Sizemore: And we continue our focus on National Disability Employment Awareness Month with Cherie Takemoto and our National Clearinghouse update.
Anne Hudlow: And it’s October and you know what that means.
Rick Sizemore: Lot’s of little goblins floating around.
Anne Hudlow: Oh, yes. We have to look out for trick-or-treaters.
Speaker 8: Trick or treat?
Rick Sizemore: Welcome Cherie.
Cherie Takemoto: Well this month I have some treats from the National Clearinghouse. The WINTAC presentation was fabulous and I noted that you did this from the 11th annual Summit Conference on Performance Management Excellence.
Rick Sizemore: Oh, it was a cool place to be I tell you. Rachel and Betsy are just awesome.
Cherie Takemoto: Okay. So for my show notes I’ll put a link to some of the archive presentations from that great event and that’s sponsored by not only WINTAC, but the Performance Evaluation Quality Assurance Technical Assistance Center funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration that I always call RSA. It sounded like a terrific event. I heard that all 50 states were represented there.
Rick Sizemore: Just a community of people so focused on vocation rehabilitation and guaging our success. It was a great environment to be in and we certainly loved talking with Rachel and Betsy.
Cherie Takemoto: So speaking of VR centers and VR agencies, I have this month a whole lot of treats from the Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies across the U.S. I want to start with my favorite which is Oregon on counselor training. They’ve put together about 17 motivational interviewing training videos along with resources to support that. That’s all in the clearinghouse now. We’ve worked with them to do that and they just did a webinar to explain it. It’s a tremendous value for those agencies or individuals who want to learn more about motivational interviewing in a rehab setting and don’t know where to get free resources. So this is a major boon for VR agencies. I want to go back to the area you talked about Wisconsin during the podcast. I have a link to the WIOA Performance Advisory Committee information that WINTAC presented. I also have a nice review that WINTAC did with Iowa, Kentucky, and good ol’ Virginia.
Rick Sizemore: Awesome.
Cherie Takemoto: That publication is called Finding Integration, The Search For Best Practices In American Job Centers. That’s some job centers that have worked together across agency lines to make working possible for people with disabilities.
Rick Sizemore: So, what else Cherie?
Cherie Takemoto: Well, I have an Employment First guidebook that Iowa developed that’s a resource for community based case managers, care managers, service coordinators, and integrated health home care coordinators. Everything folks want to know about Employment First that Iowa VR developed. I have some very nice public awareness videos. I know that I’ve already featured something WWRC has done in the past, but WINTAC/Iowa Department for the Blind have done some fabulous work. An awareness video called “Hello? Is Anybody There? A Support for Workforce Partners and Including Job Seekers That are Blind and Visually Impaired in the American Job Center Services”. I love this because in this video a person who is blind walks into a room and nobody knows what to do with them so his first thing is, “Hello? Is anybody there,” because people don’t know how to say “hello” to someone who I guess is blind. It’s a nice, nice set.
Rick Sizemore: That is just wonderful.
Cherie Takemoto: Yeah. Along with some main client stories and some Nebraska, their pathways project. I know Virginia has a pathways project, but Nebraska has one too and they just have a whole series of pathways to employment videos. So that’s nice to see.
Rick Sizemore: So many exciting things happening all across the country and that collection of information at the Clearinghouse. Such an important part of this podcast. Cherie Takemoto, thanks for your report.
Cherie Takemoto: Keep up the good work folks!
Rick Sizemore: Thank you, Cherie.
Anne Hudlow: Thank you, Cherie.
Cherie Takemoto: Bye.
Rick Sizemore: Thanks, Cherie. All of Cherie Takemoto’s contact information and links from her report are in the show notes at VRWorkforceStudio.com.
Anne Hudlow: That’s it for today’s show, but before we sign of Rick, I’d like to mention that the WWRC Foundation is ever grateful for the continued assistance that we receive in support of the center. We recently had our third annual Tailgate Throw Down which is a fundraiser in support of the programs at WWRC. We had five major event sponsors that helped to make that event possible. We would like to thank Union Bank and Trust, United Bank, Dyke and Applied, Innovative Refrigeration Systems, and Dominion Energy for their support at this event. Additionally, we extend our gratitude to our wonderful partners in podcasting who have made this episode possible. Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities, CVS Health …
Rick Sizemore: CVS Health just got that Norm Hammond Award from the Virginia Rehabilitation Association so congratulations to our friends at CVS.
Anne Hudlow: Absolutely. That’s awesome. We continue with the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Dominion Energy, The Valley to Virginia Grant, The Global Impact Today Radio Network, and of course Virginia Voice. Until next time, I’m Anne Hudlow …
Rick Sizemore: And I’m Rick Sizemore, with the courageous stories of vocation rehabilitation.