PHOTO: DORS Counselor Suzie Miller & Consumer Keri D. Williams
MARCH 2016 - DORS consumer Keri works at the Cole Stevens Salons
and cosmetology school as the director of education and compliance. Her employer at Cole Stevens is also her former student, Diane Cole Stevens.
Several years ago, Keri experienced a stroke which resulted in seizures and some brain injury. “I came to DORS in 2006 because I was having trouble getting a job. I had experience as a cosmetologist, instructor, and massage therapist, but [after my injuries] I couldn’t keep up the pace. At DORS, I started out in the brain injury recovery program.”
Keri’s Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) with DORS included mental health care, participating in Pathways
, attending a support group, and going back to college. “And DORS was always following up with all those components…making sure I was learning to take care of myself.”
Her college classes began at the College of Southern Maryland
. She finished classes there in 2008 and moved on to Howard University
. One of her DORS skills testing sessions had shown that Keri has an aptitude for marketing, so she focused on photography and advertising at Howard and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012. Keri says DORS’ support was invaluable to her college success. “Howard was difficult. I wasn’t coddled there. DORS helped me apply for financial aid and manage the process. They helped me get a computer and the [assistive technology] programs I needed for my classes. And, they helped me with tutoring and accommodations.”
Her position at Cole Stevens Salon is flexible and allows her to use a variety of skill sets. “I teach the apprentice students to help them prepare for their State boards. I help with keeping the licenses up to date and I do visits to the salons to check on compliance and safety. I work about 30 hours per week, but in 10-hour days. The good thing is, I still have the stamina! This schedule allows me to rest when and I need to and to do photography on the side.” Keri belongs to Women in Film & Video of Washington, DC
and does freelance work in the area.
Diane Cole Stevens has nothing but praise for Keri: “Keri has truly been a blessing by keeping our Maryland and DC salons compliant with licensing. Her leadership and keen sense of creating synergy has helped connect and motivate our Cole Stevens team."
Keri says DORS did a lot to motivate her. “DORS helped me to realize my rights. Suzie [Suzie Miller, DORS vocational rehabilitation counselor, Waldorf] taught me how a conversation would sound if [an interviewer] was asking me discriminatory questions. And DORS helped me understand how important it was to understand my abilities and inabilities and how to re-enter the workforce and get re-educated.”
Suzie says Keri’s attitude is what helped her successfully re-enter the workforce: “Keri was awesome to work with…she’s a go-getter and she was going to reach her goals. Period.”