USOR 100 – Spotlight on Employee Excellence: Albert Farley

Albert Farley has been a USOR Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for more than 18 years and currently works in the Salt Lake District Office. Albert enjoys working with all of his clients and has helped many individuals with disabilities achieve and maintain gainful employment. He works well with individuals with criminal backgrounds, and he has formed strong relationships with the Utah State Department of Corrections and the Salt Lake County Jail in assisting those individuals with support in regards to their careers.

Albert also provides exceptional outreach to Utah’s Native American people with disabilities, providing assistance with advocacy and employment. One example of Albert’s dedication and commitment to serving his clients was showcased during the COVID-19 pandemic when Albert organized several food drives, including gathering essential resources, and transported the donated items to reservations in the Mountain West.

We are grateful for his hard work and dedication to serving our clients throughout Utah, and for his wry humor that makes us all laugh everyday. Above all, we are grateful for the willingness he shows in assisting his team members in any way he can.

What brought you into the profession?

I chose to earn my bachelor’s degree in psychology at Westminster College because mental illness has always been intriguing to me. I was selected for an internship on the Navajo Reservation. Soon after I arrived, I realized just how difficult it was for Navajo people with mental illness to get services. For many years, the hospitals and treatment centers were utilizing treatment objectives that were outdated and not applicable to the Navajo culture. These approaches did not help them understand what mental illness was, how it affected them and what they could do about it. At Vocational Rehabilitation, one of my earliest lessons was just how effective and efficient I could address my clients' disability(ies) and have a positive impact on their lives.

My master's degree in education from Westminster College has also served me well. Empowering clients how to advocate for themselves is the cornerstone of our individual plans for employment as they need to discuss their mental health needs with their provider, as well as myself, so their diagnoses can be addressed properly. Native Americans are able to obtain needed services, such as medication, mental health therapy, physical therapy and treatment for substance abuse, with the goal of employment being a part of the therapeutic process. This insight and what I envisioned for them, has led to a rewarding career at Vocational Rehabilitation for more than 17 years (except for the paperwork — yikes!).

What is your fondest memory during your time with Vocational Rehabilitation?

My fondest memories are when a client acknowledges our work together and what they have accomplished with the support and guidance of Vocational Rehabilitation. They have a more fulfilling life with their personal relationships and are able to maintain employment. I hear from them even after their cases have been closed for years.

Why does Vocational Rehabilitation matter to you?

This agency allows me to visit all seven different Native American Reservations in Utah, giving me the opportunity to explain to our Native American people how Vocational Rehabilitation can empower them to overcome their obstacles related to their disability(ies) and return to work. Our mission allows us to provide services without judgement or discrimination. I have learned a lot about different cultures. The common thread with all of my clients is that we are here to assist people with disabilities who want to return to work.