DRS Director O’Brien Named President-Elect for National Organization of
Vocational Rehabilitation Directors
Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services Director Michael O’Brien, Ed. D. was unanimously elected president-elect of the U.S. Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation. He is the first person from Oklahoma to attain the leadership position.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans with disabilities now have access to national decision-makers on critical vocational rehabilitation and employment issues through Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services Director Michael O’Brien, Ed. D.
O’Brien was unanimously elected president-elect of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation. He is the first person from Oklahoma to attain the leadership position.
CSAVR has been the strongest voice for public rehabilitation for the past 30 years,” said O’Brien. “We are invited to help negotiate legislation involving vocational rehabilitation before Congress.”
CSAVR is composed of 80 chief administrators for public vocational rehabilitation agencies, which annually serve 1.2 million people with disabilities in the U.S. The council provides a forum to develop collective points of view with agency leaders and partners with organizations that have similar missions in education, health, welfare, and labor.
In addition to his position on the CSAVR’s executive committee, the election gives O’Brien a position on the council’s officers’ committee, which consists of the president, the president-elect, and the two most recent past presidents. The officer’s committee handles emergency decisions, while the staff handles day to day operations of the council.
“My new position gives me and Oklahoma vocational rehabilitation, a seat at the table with national leaders, rather than just a voice to be heard,” O’Brien said. “We also have an opportunity for more impact on Capitol Hill, with Oklahoma’s representatives and senators, and more credibility with our own legislature.”
Already, O’Brien is seeing doors open providing more access to Washington, D.C. leaders.
Sen. Harken of Iowa has been the driving force behind reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act, which established the programs and provides the funding authority for state vocational rehabilitation and employment programs that help Americans with disabilities become economically independent, tax-paying citizens.
O’Brien’s recent visits with Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn were also upbeat.
“Dr. Coburn is interested in finding ways to work more closely with Sen. Harken,” O’Brien explained. “He was very positive about rehabilitation in Oklahoma.”
For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, visit www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-845-8476.