Dear Personal Agents, Brokerage office staff, Lead Personal Agents, Operations Managers, Fiscal Managers, accounting staff, Provider Coordinators, Resource Managers, and every other Brokerage staff member,
At the start of February 2015, you hired me to serve as your Executive Director. Did you know that? The Oregon Support Services Association represents the 13 Brokerages around the state of Oregon. OSSA’s board of directors is comprised of the 13 Executive Directors of each Brokerage. But OSSA is so much more than that—our membership includes each and every person employed by a Brokerage to do the work of Support Services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. So to you all I say, thank you for taking a chance on me, and let me tell you a little bit about the person you hired, and the work I’m going to do.
A life-long Oregonian, I started in the field of I/DD services fresh out of college, working in direct care at United Cerebral Palsy Association of Oregon and SW Washington. Since that time I’ve served at Mentor Oregon as a Personal Agent, Lead Personal Agent, and Brokerage Director, for a total of 12 years in the field.
Serving in these capacities, I’ve developed a strong theory of leadership: leadership exists in service to the people doing the work. We accomplish that by clearing the way for the actual work to get done, with easy to understand guidance, increased efficiency, and a sharp focus on our customers. True leadership isn’t afraid of feedback or differing views, and it remains open to new facts, and developing realities.
Personal Agents, that means you’re at the top of my pyramid, because you’re answering the needs of individuals in service directly. Office support staff, PA supervisors, other managers—you’re next, as you directly support the work that Personal Agents perform for customers. Brokerage Directors, you support the whole team, and I work directly for you. My charge as OSSA Executive Director is to be a strong and unwavering voice for our collective needs, concerns, passions, and goals.
To close this post, I’d like to share with you some of OSSA’s priorities over the next two years. In a release coming later this week, OSSA is incredibly excited to share with you Our Vision for the Future of Disability Services in Oregon, created by your Directors at last September’s OSSA retreat. The document is well worth your time. It outlines an ambitious, energizing plan for rebuilding a stellar service system to Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a preview, some of OSSA’s key priorities include:
- Honoring the strengths of Oregon’s case management workforce by returning to a system of specialized case management, where people who choose in-home supports are assisted by Brokerage staff, and people who choose licensed/certified settings are assisted by CDDP staff
- Re-infusing the system with the principles of self-determination at every point possible, by returning budgetary control to customers, educating customer employers on employment responsibilities, engaging customers in provider choice, and encouraging responsible fiscal management of public funds at every level.
- Restoring true choice to individuals entering and in service by removing the caps on current Brokerage contracts
I hope this is as exciting to you as it is to me. The last two years of rapid change in Oregon have left me feeling battered, without direction, reactive, and operating in a permanent crisis mode. It seems like the old service system was demolished without a clear idea of what should be built to take its place. No one does their best work without a clear vision for what they want to accomplish.
We cannot afford to wait for someone else to tell us which way to point the ship, we must define success for ourselves, and head in that direction. I intend to meet the challenges and opportunities laid out in our vision head-on, with partnership, advocacy, and strength. Join me, members of OSSA–there is a lot of work for us to do.