Oklahoma state agency wants everyone to live a full and normal life

State Department of Rehabilitation Services serves 92,000 disabled clients.
BY STEVE GUST Published: October 6, 2013
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For the last 20 years the DRS has been its own agency. Shelton, wanting to give back and help shape policy, was appointed to the commission in 2007. On July 1 he began his third, three-year term with the board and as chairman.

He knows firsthand how important it is to provide training and help for clients with disabilities. He thinks it's a good investment that pays dividends to the taxpayers.

“When someone with a disability gets a good job they not only get off relief programs but they also start paying taxes,” he said.

Citing a University of Oklahoma study, he said an ex-client's tax return, over 10 years of working, will more than make up for the state's investment.

DRS programs focus on vocational rehabilitation, employment, independent living, residential and outreach education programs and the determination of medical eligibility for disability benefits.

Cordova came to Oklahoma after seven years as a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation administrator in Hawaii.

His first order of business, he said, was to set the occupational bar higher for rehabilitation services staffers and clients.

“It might take more training to get the better jobs,” he said.

Shelton's passion for the job is noted by Kathleen Reed, DRS executive assistant.

“He is very dedicated,” she said. “He doesn't let his vision impairment stop him and he is always up on the issues.”

Shelton and his wife, Barbara, have been married 37 years. Three have three adult sons and two granddaughters. They attend First Presbyterian Church in Edmond.

Cordova and his wife, Maria, have three adult children and five grandchildren.