Dedication and Compassion Help Employee Stand Out

Frances Cooksey photo

Tallahassee, FL – “I have received more kudos for Frances than I have for any other employee,” says Lance Swedmark, Senior Management Analyst Supervisor at the Department of Revenue (DOR). He is talking about Frances Cooksey, a Revenue Specialist with DOR. The Department of Revenue is one of many Tallahassee businesses reaping the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. It’s a relationship that has helped all involved. Frances now works in a career she loves, and Lance has an outstanding employee he can depend on. “I still don’t know what her disability is, and I don’t need to know. She does an excellent job,” he says.

Frances is just one of many people with disabilities who come to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) looking for help to find employment. After being unemployed for some time, Frances decided to make a change in her life. She applied for jobs on her own, but because of respiratory issues due to sleep apnea, she knew there were some limitations to the types of jobs she could do.

Worried that her condition would hinder her success at employment, Frances’ doctor referred her to VR. There she met VR Counselor Lynn Picolo.

Lynn knew right away that Frances was determined to improve her life. “Frances is very vivacious and very positive,” says Lynn. “She’s a go-getter and has never turned down a challenge.”

VR provided Frances with a machine to help with her sleep apnea and Lynn paired her with Phyllis Tessel of O.S. With You For You, an employment agency. Phyllis prepped Frances with important employability skills training, such as interview training and techniques.

During this time, the Department of Revenue reached out to VR and the Division of Blind Services in hopes of bringing in employees to fill various open positions. A long time employer of people with disabilities, DOR had previously worked with VR and their qualified workforce. Because of her strong interpersonal skills and technical expertise, Lynn knew Frances would be a perfect fit for one of the positions. After passing a skills test, Frances came in for an interview. “I went in with positivity and the encouragement of Ms. Phyllis and Ms. Lynn,” Frances says.

“We were looking for good, qualified people. And Frances happened to be one of the ones that walked through the door,” says Lance. After the interview, Frances received a call saying she got the job. “I was just so elated,” she said.

As a Revenue Specialist, Frances answers calls from customers with question about their child support cases. She’s also in charge of sensitive and confidential information. Lance believes that Frances’ patience and compassion makes her a stand out employee. “She always seems to be 100 percent dedicated to what she’s doing and that’s a refreshing thing to see,” he says.

Frances hopes to use this job experience as an opportunity to minister to and mentor young people. She’s currently in her last semester at St. Leo’s University where she will earn a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, then work towards a Master’s degree.

Frances tells everyone about the wonderful experience she’s had with VR. “I really am grateful for the opportunity and all the wonderful people there that embraced me,” she said. “It helped me get to where I’m today.”

Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. Our employer-focused website, FLJobConnections.com, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 111 offices across Florida, and last year helped 6,071 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org.