Newest Rehabilitation Services commissioner advocates for underserved jobseekers
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Kevin Stitt recently appointed Theresa Flannery from Mustang to serve as the newest member of the Commission for Rehabilitation Services.
The commission is the governing board for Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
In 2019, DRS served 82,787 Oklahomans with disabilities with career preparation, employment, residential and outreach education, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits. The agency also assists employers in finding qualified workers with disabilities.
Commissioner Flannery, now employed as senior director for social services at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, worked closely with DRS for 20 years when she was community resources and compliance director at Dale Rogers Training Center.
“I think there’s a good linkage between the people we serve at Catholic Charities and what DRS does to help people with disabilities become employed,” Commissioner Flannery said. “I bring the employment background and belief that anyone who wants to work should be given the opportunity to work, regardless of their background.”
Catholic Charities serves those in need, regardless of faith, through transformative, empowering and dignity-affirming social service programs across Central and Western Oklahoma.
Dale Rogers Training Center is the oldest and largest community vocational training and employment center for people with disabilities in Oklahoma. DRTC trains, serves and employs approximately 1,000 people each year.
“There’s so much value and dignity in work that comes with a career path that allows people with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged to be independent,” she added. “Serving as a DRS Commissioner will give me an opportunity to share information about the agency’s great programs with those Catholic Charities clients who could use DRS services.
“A lot of info and services fit in a box because we’re reaching out to help the majority, but I believe there a lot more people in the margins than there are in the box these days,” Commissioner Flannery said. “We’re going to also have to learn how to stand in those margins and interact with people outside the box in a way that makes sense to them. We have a responsibility to provide supports and opportunities that affirm each person’s dignity, but also guides them towards greater stability and independence.”
Commissioner Flannery was recognized by the Department of Rehabilitation Services as Employment Partner of the Year in 2011, by the Oklahoma Rehabilitation Association as Employer of the Year in 2015 and nominated by the Oklahoma Association for Persons in Supported Employment for outstanding performance and achievements in supported employed in 2002.
“We are pleased and honored to have Commissioner Theresa Flannery join the Commission for Rehabilitation Services,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said. “She has more than 25 years professional experience in project management, staff training, administration and quality assurance in both public and non-profit arenas.
“In addition, she is a friend who shares DRS vision to empower Oklahomans with disabilities to achieve employment and self-sufficiency that lead to dignity and respect.”
Commissioner Flannery earned a bachelor’s of science degree in psychology with a minor in alcohol and chemical dependency counseling from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.
For more information about DRS’s programs, visit www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-845-8476.