Two recent promotions find VRS staff members Craig Akin and Jean Stewart assuming new leadership roles.
On Nov. 16, Akin replaced new VR Assistant Commissioner James Myrick as general VR state office administrator/director of special programs.
Akin’s promotion left Montgomery’s VR office without a supervisor. That position was filled by Stewart, who moved into her new post Jan. 16.
Akin and Stewart both said they are eager to make a positive impact on ADRS from their new leadership positions.
“It’s really exciting to be serving this department in a new capacity,” said Akin. “In my 25 years with the department, I’ve enjoyed my time as a rehabilitation counselor and as a VR supervisor. My new role offers new challenges, and I welcome those.”
Stewart, who relocated to Montgomery from Jackson, said it was the right time in her life to make such a move.
“Since my kids are grown now, it was time to make a change, and this opportunity came open. If I can contribute in a way that benefits staff and consumers, then I am all for it,” she said.
Akin, who began his career with ADRS as a counselor in Troy, has been working in Montgomery for the past 17 years. Stewart has worked for the department for 30 years — all in the Jackson office — and began her career as an administrative assistant. After earning her degree in rehabilitation, she became a rehabilitation counselor, employment development coordinator, senior rehabilitation counselor, and now unit supervisor.
Myrick said he is impressed by Stewart’s drive and sense of purpose.
“I first met Jean 25 years ago. This is someone who came into this program at a grassroots level. She’s always shown initiative, and she’s always made it her mission to facilitate and advance the cause of this agency,” he said. “It takes passion and dedication to be willing to contribute at the highest possible level after 30 years, and I know she is the right person for the task.”
While Stewart is just settling in to her new position, Akin said he is beginning to address one of the many challenges he is currently facing as the department’s new director of special programs: working closely with Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) on the Welfare-to-Work program, which aims to help individuals on government assistance move back into the workplace.
“Craig has a proven history with the department,” Myrick said of Akin. “He has a keen grasp of quality assurance guidelines and procedures and has established himself at ADRS as a knowledgeable and well-respected person of integrity. He’s clearly the right person for the job, and I’m really looking forward to working closely with him on many different projects.”