Coshocton DD superintendent honored for service, advocacy

| December 15, 2017

Steve Oster, superintendent of the Coshocton County Board of Developmental Disabilities, is pictured at center with his Betty Macintosh Award. He received the award at the Ohio Association of County Boards (OACB) annual conference in Columbus. Pictured with him are Bridget Gargan, executive director of the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (left) and Melanie Stretchbery, retired superintendent of Wood County Board of DD and last year’s Betty Macintosh winner (right). Contributed | Beacon

COSHOCTON – Steve Oster, superintendent of the Coshocton County Board of Developmental Disabilities, was surprised to find out that he wasn’t just a presenter at the Ohio Association of County Boards (OACB) annual conference. He also was the recipient of an award.

“I was shocked and actually cried on stage,” Oster said.

He was selected by the OACB to receive the Betty Macintosh Award for Professional Leadership & Advocacy at the association’s annual convention in Columbus.

“I was very humbled by it,” Oster said. “I never figured it was going to be me. It usually goes to someone in the middle or end of their career. It’s the highest award they give out.”

The award is given out annually to a developmental disabilities support professional who has shown dedication to empowering people served by county boards of DD.

Oster was nominated by Coshocton DD Human Resources Director Jill Lahna.

“Steve’s dedication to his board, his staff, and to improving the lives of the people and families we serve is remarkable,” Lahna said. “No matter how long his day has been, he always has time for you and always has a smile on his face.”

Oster has served as the shared superintendent of Coshocton DD and the Knox County Board of DD since 2009. In this role, he led the boards through a series of challenging transitions following changes in federal regulations in 2014. Oster has been a pioneer of shared services arrangements (in which two or more county boards of DD share senior managers to save resources), and he has helped other county boards of DD explore and perfect the shared services model.

“I love the individuals we work with and seeing the things they accomplish every day,” Oster said. “Seeing them work and fit into their communities is really inspiring and it’s fun to watch our preschool and school age children grow.”

He’s also been happy to see the Coshocton County Board of Developmental Disabilities grow.

“We took on Help Me Grow, which is for children birth to 3-years-old,” Oster said. “This helps with catching disabilities early on and working toward them possibly not existing when the child is three, four or five-years-old.”

Oster also is known statewide as a vocal advocate for people with developmental disabilities. He has served as the president of Ohio Superintendents of County Boards (OSCB) for the past four years, and he has served as executive director of PAR – Professionals, Advocates, Resources since 2000. He regularly provides testimony to lawmakers in Columbus on issues and legislation related to Ohio’s DD system, and he has participated in numerous state workgroups. Oster was also instrumental in the creation of a new superintendents group that allows experienced county board superintendents to provide guidance to others who are new to the position in their counties.

“Steve has been a tireless advocate for people with developmental disabilities in Coshocton County and across the state,” said Coshocton DD Board President Casey Claxon. “He leads with heart, and our programs and community have benefitted tremendously from his passion and vision.”

Oster is very thankful for the staff that helps him accomplish great things for people with disabilities.

“We have quality people and our individuals also make us look good,” he said. “We also couldn’t do it without our providers, whether they are individuals or companies who help our people with cooking, cleaning, transportation or adaptive equipment.”

For more information about the Betty Macintosh Award, visit The Ohio Association of County Boards of DD (OACB) is a non-profit organization that provides advocacy, communications, professional development and technical assistance to all 88 of Ohio’s county boards of developmental disabilities.

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