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Voinovich remembered as champion for children

Voinovich remembered as champion for children

By Gayle Channing Tenenbaum

PCSAO was saddened to learn of the death yesterday of George Voinovich, former State Representative, County Commissioner, Lieutenant Governor, Cleveland Mayor, Governor of Ohio and U.S. Senator.

But in all of these offices, from packing his lunch each day when he could as Governor to bringing his beloved Cleveland out of debt and beginning its revival to the vibrant city it is today (including his effort to bring the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland), it was not the title of the office he held, but what that office made it possible for him to do for the people he believed he was called on to serve. Both he and his wonderful wife Janet (we all learned a lesson about marriage, commitment and true love from the two of them) were concerned about what was happening with and for children, youth and families. He was the first to push all of us to improve outcomes for such programs as state-funded Head Start, prenatal care, early intervention and home visiting, and foster care and adoption.

The list of the stories of what he accomplished every step of the way in his life is long. Even after he left the Senate, he was working to make certain that the Voinovich School at Ohio University continued to grow and thrive, especially when it came to employment issues for people in Appalachia. Those of us in the child protection field will always be grateful for the Leadership Institute for Directors of PCSAs throughout the state. Dan Schneider, Dean Mark Weinberg, Greg Browning, David Wilhelm, Yvette McGee Brown and Senator Voinovich developed the institute in order to provide the same kind of leadership skills for persons working in health and human services as was available for business leadership. It was an exciting day, when you could actually see the light bulb go off over the Senator’s head as he finally understood the concept of “The Strategic Triangle.”

Voinovich was a person of service, of devotion to wife and family, of love and support for the people who were his staff, of belief that government could work for the betterment of those it serves. He taught us about what good governing should be, about loss and bereavement, about how deep and wonderful abiding love can be, and about how to polish our own shoes and pack our own lunches.