Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD)
How did you get into this field?
When I was young, both of my parents worked in social services. I always thought I wanted to work in a field where I could help people. Then, an uncle who I was very close with, was in a significant car accident. I spent time with him and learned a lot about people who had vision impairments, traumatic brain injury, and about supports people with disabilities need. When I was in college, I switched my major to special education.
What is something you wish people knew about DODD?
We are one of 26 cabinet agencies, so I report directly to the governor. In most states, that doesn’t happen. I think being able to have a seat at the table and talk directly with the governor really shows his commitment to people with developmental disabilities, and his desire to really support people living in the state of Ohio.
What has been your biggest challenge as a director?
When I’m out and meeting with people who have disabilities and their families, they share their needs. As soon as I hear about an issue, I want to go back and take care of it quickly. But I’ve learned that I can’t always do that because it’s something we might need to address as a system. That’s been really hard for me.
What are your goals for the future?
First and foremost, my goal is to hear more from people who are living with a disability and their families. I want to make sure people with disabilities have a voice here at the department. We’re also really thinking about the services and supports that people have available to them today, and making sure we are meeting needs in an effective and efficient way. I was also a teacher for many years, so I’m thinking about how we can find kids earlier in their journey, work to keep families together in the community, and help change the trajectory for how they’ll live their life as adults.
Where is your favorite place to visit in Ohio and why?
Hocking Hills is my favorite place to visit. We like to camp and hike. My kids are older, so now my husband and I have time to spend together and reconnect.