A New Leader

Vocational Rehabilitation Services header

I’m so happy to announce that there is new director for DEED’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), whose mission it is to empower Minnesotans with disabilities to achieve their goals for employment, independent living and community integration. Dee Torgerson brings together all the qualities needed for this key leadership position: experience, great communication skills and a vision for the future.  

Dee has served in leadership positions within VRS for the past seven years, as regional director for the metro area and before that for the southern and central Minnesota regions. Prior to joining VRS, she served as a director of the Vocational Rehabilitation unit in Workers’ Compensation at the Department of Labor and Industry, and as a disability case manager and vocational counselor consultant.  

Dee and I know that VRS staff are extremely dedicated to our mission and routinely go above and beyond to serve Minnesotans with disabilities. We recognize that VRS staff are our most valuable asset. Staff are successful learners, willing to take risks and to try new ideas, and always striving to proactively share knowledge, think critically and adapt to change. These are essential qualities for our demanding – and rewarding – work. 

One of the very first things Dee plans to do is to visit VRS teams throughout Minnesota to learn more about staff, hear current challenges and share ideas. Dee is focusing her first weeks on: gathering feedback from staff, increasing communication, recognizing employees who excel, promoting advancement opportunities, reviewing workloads and work schedules, and enhancing training for managers.  

Dee wants to immediately take steps to reinforce an open environment where new ideas and innovation are encouraged. Dee also plans to strengthen VRS’s relationships with community partners who are essential in guiding our work and ensuring we continue to provide excellent customer service. The goal: to help all VRS staff be the best they can be to empower Minnesotans with disabilities to achieve their dreams. 

- Carol Pankow, Assistant Commissioner for Workforce Services