Windsperger appointed to State Rehabilitation Council
If you asked Michael Windsperger about his job as a vocational rehabilitation counselor with the Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), he’ll tell you he’s found his calling. After “jumping around a bit after school” and working at a few different state agencies, he applied for the vocational rehab job to work closer to home and fell in love with his new job helping individuals with disabilities or other barriers to employment find and keep jobs.
“I love getting to know the person and listening to what they want and what their strengths are,” Windsperger said. “I’m not a puzzle person, but taking that puzzle of the person’s personality, strengths, weaknesses and aligning that with a job is so rewarding.”
During his annual review last year, Windsperger mentioned wanting to get more involved, learn more about the job and give back. That’s when his supervisor recommended he apply to be on the State Rehabilitation Council, a group that is appointed by the governor to help make policies and decisions that help people with disabilities find jobs in Minnesota.
Windsperger threw his hat in the ring, and after a long period of application reviews and background checks, he was appointed earlier this year and just attended his second council meeting last week.
“I am one of few people on the council representing Greater Minnesota,” Windsperger said, from his home office in Mankato, Minnesota. “Small communities throughout the state don't always have the infrastructure and other resources that the Metro area has. Most of the time, we make things work with the resources we have in creative ways to achieve our goals."
Windsperger said he’s eager to share his experiences working in the field with other members of the council, which includes different advocacy groups, business and industry leaders, community programming representatives and current and former program participants. He also said he expects this three-year experience to enhance his MAPE involvement, while also using his MAPE Negotiations Team experience to enhance his involvement with the council.
“Listening to the people you represent to fully understand what is important to them, bringing this forward and standing strong for what you believe will make the most positive impact is the biggest lesson I learned,” Windsperger said. “Community building is a huge plus of being involved with the union that spills over into life and work.”
Building community and confidence, one client or coworker at a time, seems to be where Windsperger feels most at home.
“If I can get better at my job and learn more about the various policies and procedures for helping people with different types of disabilities, I’d like to do that,” he said.