Archived Webcast Information

Photo of Thomas Draghi

Thomas Draghi

Photo of Ashlee Harless

Ashlee Harless

Photo of Whitney Jones

Whitney Jones

Photo of John Kregel

John Kregel

Photo of Norman Shawanokasic

Norman Shawanokasic

Interagency Insights: Bridging Federal and State Efforts for Holistic Indigenous Services

Presented By:
Thomas Draghi, Director, Workforce Development Area 7, Wisconsin

Ashlee Harless, Case Manager, Mattaponi-Pamunkey-Monacan, Inc.

Whitney Jones, Coordinator, Oyate Circle University of South Dakota Center for Disabilities

John Kregel, Ed.D., Co-Principal Investigator, VCU National Training and Data Center with Social Security Administration

Norman Shawanokasic, Chairperson, Bureau of Indian Affairs Advisory Council Chair, Appointed by United States Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland
May 22, 2024

Federal, State, and Tribal representatives will discuss effective models in service provision to Indigenous youth and young adults, including individuals with disabilities. Presenters will discuss the challenges faced and the actions taken to form Indigenous Service Models. Examples of culturally-focused youth camps, WIOA-funded workforce programs, federal and state initiatives, and vocational rehabilitation best practices will be showcased.


Thomas Draghi’s background and experience include over 25 years in employment and training and vocational rehabilitation fields. Prior to his work with the State of Wisconsin’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), he worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and the Director for the Lac Courte Oreilles Vocational Rehabilitation Program in Wisconsin for eight years. For the last 18 years, Thomas has served as the DVR Workforce Development Areas (WDA) 7/8 Director in Northwestern Wisconsin, providing leadership, supervision, training, coaching, and mentoring to increase employment outcomes as well as monitor and foster continuous improvement of performance in the provision of vocational rehabilitation services. Thomas has been active in various rehabilitation and disability advocacy groups such as the Wisconsin Rehabilitation Council, Consortia of Administrators of Native American Rehabilitation, and North Country Independent Living Board of Directors. He has been affiliated with both the National Rehabilitation Association and the National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns in the past. In addition, he has worked with Montana State University's Rural Institute as an Advisor on the development of a Self-Employment Tool-kit for AIVR programs nationally and has participated in the 38th Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, as a member of the Primary Study Group titled Issues to Address Underserved Populations, Including Individuals who are Deaf-Blind. He has served as a Peer Reviewer for the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services grant competition through the Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Thomas has an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation Administration from San Diego State University. Thomas is a Member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.

Ashlee Harless is a Rappahannock Tribal citizen from the Beaver Clan in Eastern Virginia. Ms Harless has an AAS- Degree and has a 10-year background in Human Resources, Technology, and Administration. In June of 2019, Ashlee was brought on to MPM Inc. as a Case Manager. MPM Inc. is a non-profit organization that assists federally and state-recognized tribal members residing in Virginia with post-secondary education, job training, and career placement. Ms Harless manages outreach projects and tuition assistance programs within MPM Inc. and is the Rappahannock Tribes Cultural Arts Teacher and instructor on regalia making. Ashlee started holding regalia workshops for Rappahannock tribal members in 2020 after conducting research from elders within the community on how to create each individual's preferred dance style and regalia preference. She created budget narratives and proposal letters after surveying the need for cultural education amongst tribal members; those were then submitted to the tribal council, which approved the workshops. She teaches beading, feather work, and traditional joining techniques for leather regalia. Ms Harless is a tribal advocate and public speaking educator for her tribe’s rich cultural history, traditional crafts, and dancing. She is currently assisting in developing the first Rappahannock summer youth camp by curating courses for different age groups in traditional beadwork.

Whitney Jones is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and resides on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in south central South Dakota. He is a survivor of Residential Boarding Schools attending from 1976 -1988 both in St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain SD and Flandreau Indian School in Flandreau SD.  He received his BA in Counseling with an emphasis on Chemical Dependency from Sinte Gleska University in Mission, SD.  After graduation, he worked at the tribal Indian school, Saint Francis Indian School. Then, he worked in the mental health department of the school. For the next five years, he worked as a Mental Health Counselor. He continued contact with the Center of Disabilities and helped the University get students signed up for LEND. In October of 2023, he was offered a position with Oyate Circle and the Center of Disabilities. Since working with Oyate Circle, had had the chance to present in Washington DC and work with different organizations, and continue to learn more about this field. 

John Kregel is a Professor of Special Education at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and a faculty member at the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (VCU-RRTC). Since 2000, he has served as Co-Principal Investigator of the VCU Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) National Training and Data Center, which provides training and support to over 900 benefits counselors across the country. His research is focused on Social Security disability programs and services, new approaches to increasing employment retention of individuals with developmental disabilities, transition from school to work for youth with disabilities, and return to work services for SSA beneficiaries. He has testified before Congress five times on employment and return to work issues for Social Security disability beneficiaries.

Norman Shawanokasic is a member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin.  He is an Advocate for American Indians with Disabilities.  He has provided basic guidance and counseling, prepared monthly reports to Sr. Administration, grant writing, prepared budgets, developed policy and procedures, Developed Operation Manuals and compliance reviews for Tribal VR programs, and provided follow-up to stakeholders. He has a graduate of San Diego State University with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, an undergraduate degree from NAES College Chicago, Illinois, an Associate of Arts Degree from NWTC Green Bay, WI.  He is a Certified National Trainer for American Indians with Disabilities, past experience include a lecturer of the American Indian Child Welfare Act Bethel Alaska, Presenter at the National Inter Data Workshops with the Bureau of Indian Education, Lecturer at San Diego State University, East West University Chicago Illinois, NAES College Chicago Illinois, Southern University Baton Rouge Louisiana, a Certified Level I Counselor of (FOSAC) Fundamentals of Substance Abuse, and a Certified Federal Law Enforcement officer graduating from Federal Law Enforcement Academy/Indian Police Academy Marana, AZ., State of Wisconsin certified Law Enforcement Officer.