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2023 Awards

The 2023 annual conference was a resounding success, thanks to extraordinary committee planners, volunteers, attendees, distinguished guests and award winners.

PCSAO was pleased to present awards to outstanding youth, families, advocates, and agency staff. Below you will find more information about each of these inspirational individuals. Congratulations to all those who were recognized!

Note: Photos will be added as they become available.

Legislators of the Year

PCSAO honored two exceptional individuals with the 2023 PCSAO Legislator of the Year award. These awards recognize outstanding leadership and action by legislators on issues impacting children and families served by the children services system.

The Honorable Nickie Antonio

Sen. Antonio is from Lakewood, Ohio and represents District 23; she serves as Minority Leader in the Ohio Senate. This is her second term in the Senate, having won elections in both 2018 and 2022, and follows her eight years in the Ohio House of Representatives. Sen. Antonio is recognized as a leader who reaches across the aisle to get things done and as an established expert in health policy. She championed Ohio’s historic adoption open records law and step therapy reform law, and she passed legislation abolishing the shackling of pregnant inmates and requiring pharmacist education for dispensing life-saving naloxone.

During her tenure, Antonio has introduced the Ohio Fairness Act in every General Assembly since 2011, which would provide civil rights protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community. She has been a dedicated champion of workers’ rights, high-quality education, local governments, equal rights for women and the LGBTQ+ community, health care for all and fighting the opioid crisis.

None of us should be surprised that Sen. Antonio has been honored by so many organizations in the past and by PCSAO. She is a leader. She listens, she speaks up for those who don’t have a voice, she forges relationships across the spectrum, and she gets things done.

The Honorable Jim Hoops

Hon. Jim Hoops

Rep. Hoops is in his third full term in the Ohio House, after being appointed during the 132nd General Assembly. He represents the 81st House District, which includes all of Fulton, Henry, and Williams counties and the northern portion of Defiance County. Rep. Hoops is a member of the majority leadership team, serving as Majority Whip. This means he is responsible for monitoring and securing votes for legislation that comes to the House floor. Serving in a leadership role reflects the esteem and respect his House colleagues have for the Representative.

We meet with legislators fairly often. I can truly say that the few meetings we’ve had with Rep. Hoops have differed from a “typical” legislative meeting. Rep. Hoops knows what children services is. He has taken the time to build a relationship with agencies in his district and learn about the work –- not just the headlines, but deeper. That is leadership.

It is the way that Rep. Hoops goes about his work that sets him apart and has led us to honor him today. He reached out to offer help on the children services placement crisis. Once he learned of the challenge, he submitted and re-submitted amendments during the budget process on our behalf. He stays in touch to make sure he knows what is going on and offers help.

Leaders of Tomorrow

Last year we reimagined our Rising Up and Moving On awards and renamed them Leaders of Tomorrow. PCSAO is pleased to recognize youth who had contact with our system and who, despite their circumstances, demonstrate growth, resiliency, and leadership.

Brooklyn, 18, Montgomery County


“Natural ability for public speaking.” “Grit and determination to accomplish anything she sets her mind to.” “A kind and compassionate heart.” These are just a few of the ways that people who know Brooklyn describe her.

At 17, Brooklyn exhibited strength and maturity for the sake of her unborn child’s well-being, determined to provide stability for herself and her daughter. Over the following months, she showed remarkable resilience, achieving educational and personal milestones while navigating the responsibilities of motherhood. Brooklyn built strong relationships with her current foster family, who supported her through the birth of her daughter and who continue to love and encourage her every day. Brooklyn’s accomplishments — including earning her high school diploma, completing weekly parenting classes, beginning phlebotomy classes, speaking at the State Youth Advisory Board, and passing her driving test and purchasing a car — highlight her deep commitment to self-improvement.

Brooklyn’s resilience and dedication to her daughter continue to inspire those around her.

Sa’Miya, 18, Hamilton County


Sa’Miya is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of others. Despite personal struggles, she has channeled her experiences into becoming a powerful advocate for the well-being of other young people in foster care who face similar challenges.

Sa’Miya’s determination has earned her many opportunities, including an internship at the Hamilton County Courthouse, an interview with Channel 12 News, and an invitation to keynote Hamilton County’s annual Celebration of Dreams event for foster care graduates, where she received a standing ovation. She values building relationships as an essential part of personal growth and took advantage of each of these opportunities to strengthen her personal and professional network. Listen to how Sa’Miya describes leadership: “Leading for the day is what everyone can do on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s a sibling leading by example or a manager leading his employees to be the number 1 store in sales.”

Although she faced adversity early in life, Sa’Miya has persevered, graduating high school with honors and earning a full scholarship to Norfolk State University, where she plans to major in political science and pursue a career in law to advocate for women who have experienced violence.
Sa’Miya’s dedication to advocacy and her remarkable ability to connect with others have made a lasting impact on her community.

Treasure, 18, Lucas County


Treasure is known for her unshakable self-confidence and her ability to stand resolute in the face of challenges, but according to those how know her, it is Treasure’s sense of humor and kindness that make people like her so much. Treasure is a leader in her community and devotes herself to advocacy, using her voice to drive policy changes benefiting Lucas County children in foster care. Treasure also leads the local and state Youth Advisory Boards and is working to help develop and design transitional housing for youth.

Treasure excelled academically, graduating as one of the top students in her high school class and earning an award for Academic Excellence, all while playing varsity soccer. She worked hard at her job and was quickly promoted to assistant general manager, saving up to purchase not one, but two vehicles after the first was totaled in an accident.

Treasure currently attends Bowling Green State University and is majoring in Business Administration in the hopes of one day owning a restaurant and serving soul food inspired by cherished family recipes.

Chris, 19, Cuyahoga County


“Relationships are like the seasons, they come, they go, they can sometimes cloud up your day, and they also brighten them up.” These are wise words from Christian, a shining example of strength and resilience. After the loss of his mother, Chris experienced multiple foster placements and instability. Despite these struggles, Christian has sought out opportunities to establish positive relationships, better himself, and lend a helping hand to others. Christian’s mother instilled in him a strong sense of purpose, and he continues to honor her memory by advocating for himself and others.

Chris’ mentor helped him rebuild trust in his relationships and connect him with resources that opened doors. He dedicates significant time to improving the foster care system and other systems, working for positive change for young people facing similar challenges.

Chris joined the Cuyahoga Youth Action Board and has become a young adult leader with A Place 4 Me. He was selected to participate in the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Youth Leadership Institute and became a Jim Casey Fellow, participating in the leadership team to implement a Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program grant. While engaging in all of this work, Chris also navigated the process of emancipating from foster care, completing school, and moving out of a group home and into his own apartment.

Chris hopes to continue his advocacy for youth and become the founder of his own nonprofit organization. He looks forward to one day becoming a homeowner and a foster parent.

Jalene, 18, Summit County


“A great example of how a youth committed to getting the help she needed can thrive and learn to overcome the obstacles that resulted in being in care in order to create a positive future for themselves.” “A kind and caring young adult who genuinely cares for others and their happiness, sometimes above her own.” “A role model for new residents entering the program, serving as an example of self-advocacy and determination.” These are just several of the reasons that Jalene was nominated for this award.

While Jalene’s journey hasn’t been easy, she has persevered. Even during her most difficult times, it was evident that there was a sensitive, caring, compassionate, and loving heart within Jalene.

Jalene nurtured important connections, stabilizing her relationships with her adoptive moms, making several friends, and developing close supportive relationships. Jalene obtained a part-time job and graduated high school this spring.

Her hard work earned her a scholarship and acceptance to Kent State University’s Nursing Degree Program. Earlier this year, Jalene received the Youth Achievement Award at Summit County Children Services Annual Appreciation Breakfast for her perseverance and determination to become the outstanding young woman she is today.

Families of the Year

Families are central to the work we do. We are pleased to present PCSAO’s Family of the Year awards to birth parents, kin caregivers, foster families, and adoptive families.

Ryan Reynolds & Family, Union County (Kin)

Reynolds Family

Our first awardee exemplifies love, commitment, and unwavering dedication to family, and highlights the remarkable impact that compassion and resilience can have on a child’s life and future.

Ryan Reynolds’ journey began when Union County Children Services became involved with the case of 10-year-old Jaelynn and her mother. In the midst of difficult circumstances, Jaelynn was placed in the custody of Union County. Despite not being Jaelynn’s biological father, Ryan reached out to the agency, expressing his desire to maintain the relationship he had long had with Jaelynn. He was determined to support her, even when faced with legal complexities.

Through challenges that would have deterred many, Ryan worked tirelessly to prove his dedication to Jaelynn’s well-being. His efforts included voluntarily collaborating with Union County Children Services, sharing his past struggles, and actively seeking personal growth. His commitment to sobriety, spanning over three years, underscores his dedication to becoming the best version of himself for his family.

But Ryan’s story is more than personal growth; it’s about the power of love and connection that goes beyond biology. He navigated the delicate task of revealing to Jaelynn that he wasn’t her biological father. Through open and honest communication, he showed Jaelynn that their bond was not defined by genetics, but rather by the love and support they shared.

In April 2023, his persistence was rewarded when Ryan was granted legal custody of Jaelynn. His journey, marked by resilience, strength, and a deep understanding of the role of a father, showcases all that this award stands for.

Jennifer Barbera & Family, Trumbull County (Birth)

Barbera Family

Jennifer and Rockie Barbera’s involvement with Trumbull County Children Services paints a remarkable picture of triumph over adversity and the beauty of recovery. Jennifer bravely decided to exit a harmful relationship, taking her infant daughter, Rockie, along with her. Their pursuit of safety led them to become residents of a Domestic Violence Shelter, but throughout this period, Jennifer grappled with addiction. Given Jennifer’s lack of local family support, Rockie was placed in foster care.

Jennifer willingly embraced the chance to participate in Ohio START, which connected her with a caseworker and a peer supporter, both of whom had personal experience with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and recovery. From the outset, Jennifer set her sights on reuniting with Rockie, displaying honesty, open-mindedness, and an unwavering determination to achieve this goal. She sought treatment within a residential SUD program, where she made significant strides.

Following her discharge from inpatient treatment, Jennifer transitioned into outpatient care and briefly resided in a sober living home while seeking permanent housing for herself and Rockie. During this critical period, she leaned heavily on the guidance and support offered by her peer supporter and caseworker. Jennifer’s network within the recovery community began to take shape, and she engaged actively with the 12-step program. She secured a sponsor, joined a homegroup, and diligently worked through the steps.

What is even more remarkable about Jennifer and Rockie’s story is that it happened at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual interactions with her caseworker, peer supporter, and even Rockie added an extra layer of complexity to Jennifer’s journey. However, her resilience and optimism remained unshaken as she continued to make progress. Despite the virtual nature of her connections, Jennifer developed a profound bond with Rockie’s foster parents and the church they attended. These connections grew to become integral components of her support system.

Jennifer achieved her goal of reunification with Rockie. Even after her case was closed, she sustained her relationships with Rockie’s former foster parents, the church, and the 12-step community. Jennifer secured full-time employment with a local SUD treatment provider, took online courses to become a certified peer supporter, and successfully expunged past charges.

In January, Jennifer became an Ohio START Family Peer Mentor. Now she collaborates closely with her former peer supporter, who was hired by the agency to be the Ohio START caseworker. Jennifer’s advocacy and role modeling extend to the parents she supports, guiding them through the same recovery journey she embarked upon a few years prior. She overcame the odds and is now extending a hand to others in need.

The Johnson Family, Stark County (Foster/Adoptive)


Aaron and Julie Johnson’s unwavering commitment to foster parenting has touched the hearts of many. Their journey as foster parents at Stark County Job and Family Services has been characterized by an inspiring ability to embrace children seeking security, comfort, and kindness. Aaron and Julie have welcomed sibling groups and teenagers into their home, even in the darkest hours of the night.

Since becoming licensed in 2020, at the start of the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic, Aaron and Julie have embodied resilience and positivity. A newspaper feature in January 2021 highlighted their unique perspective—fueled by hope and compassion—on embracing children affected by the pandemic. “Don’t let COVID be the reason that you do not help these kids because these kids are worth more than what COVID will put you through as a family,” they shared.

When others hesitated, Aaron and Julie stepped forward, opening their hearts to a sibling group of two in the spring of 2020. And when circumstances demanded more, they welcomed another sibling to ensure that the family stayed together, even amending their Child Characteristic Checklist to accommodate this vital change. Facing challenges with determination, they fought for their children’s rights and well-being, overcoming systemic obstacles to ensure fairness and justice.

In August 2022, Aaron and Julie adopted the sibling group, granting them a permanent, loving home.

Even after adoption, their devotion never waned. Despite concerns about their capacity, they continued to provide emergency and respite care for Stark County JFS, quickly becoming an indispensable pillar of support. Their availability, day or night, has provided solace to the staff, allowing them to navigate challenging situations with renewed vigor.

Aaron and Julie’s acceptance of 19 emergency placements and respites underlines their exceptional commitment. They have opened their home to children in dire need, sometimes coming to their rescue from police stations, hospitals, and family homes. Each child they welcome receives unwavering love, regardless of their background or behavior.

The McCune Family, Tuscarawas County (Foster/Kin)

McCune Family

Derek and Savannah McCune have demonstrated exceptional dedication and unwavering commitment to creating a nurturing and loving environment for children in need.

Their journey began with the care of a teenage girl and her younger brother, who found a safe haven within the McCune household for over a year. Throughout this period, the McCunes actively engaged in the reunification process, maintaining contact with the birth mother and facilitating supervised visits. Their compassion extended beyond boundaries as they generously gifted the birth mother with new tires to ensure secure transportation for her children and herself.

When the older child encountered challenges upon returning to the birth mother’s custody, Derek and Savannah extended an open invitation for her to continue schooling from their home until the year’s end. Their dedication knew no bounds.

In an equally significant placement, they welcomed an infant through the Kinnect program into their family. Although the infant eventually transitioned to a kinship home, Derek and Savannah’s connection remained strong. They continued to be involved, offering respite and childcare as needed, even celebrating Easter together.

One kinship provider notes, “They truly care about the kids in their care,” emphasizing the trust and genuine concern that defines their role. Another supporter adds, “Even with (the baby) now in our care I send pies just about every day and share milestones. They have big hearts. They truly care.”

The McCunes continue to go above and beyond, welcoming more children into their home and ensuring that they maintain a sense of family and continuity during life’s transitions.

The Featheroff Family, Perry County (Foster)

Featheroff Family

Deanna and David Featheroff had prior experience as therapeutic foster parents and had previously adopted twin boys in another county. Since initial licensure in Perry County, they have fostered 31 children and adopted four. Dee and David also provide respite for the Family & Children First Council, giving biological and kinship families a much-needed break. They have a family legacy of foster care and adoption: Among them, Dee and her family members have adopted 17 children!

Dee and David are well known to all the caseworkers because they have come through for the agency on so many occasions. They have a history of taking hard-to-place children and rarely say no to an emergency placement or respite. Their service has been critical to keeping children safe and cared for so that they do not have to stay overnight in a government agency. They have seen many children come and go from their home over the years, and every single one of them has left their mark on the hearts of Dee and David.

The Featheroffs have proven time and again that they are parents who refuse to give up on a child, going above and beyond to provide for each and every one in their care. This dedication is not just a philosophy; it’s a lived reality. The Featheroffs have remained an anchor for children with a history of trauma and challenging behaviors.

In their daily interactions, David and Dee patiently guide behavior and impart essential life skills. They represent more than just caregivers, and their commitment extends beyond the walls of their home. The Featheroffs are the first to step forward and lend a helping hand to their foster children’s parents.

The world is in need of more families like the Featheroffs—families who embrace children with complex behaviors and needs, families who offer unconditional love and protection.

Outstanding County Agency Staff Awards

Caseworkers, supervisors and agency support staff are the backbone of the work we do. Every year we recognize outstanding agency staff for their professionalism, commitment, and willingness to go the extra mile for children and families.

Supervisor of the Year: Tanya Vanderveen, Summit County Children Services

Tanya Vanderveen

Good supervisors should have a strong work ethic. They should be able to take initiative and meet challenges head on. They should inspire their team while looking out for their individual needs. Our first award, the Supervisor of the Year, goes to just such a person.

With 20 years under her belt – five in the supervisor role – this leader helps her workers be strong advocates for families. Her staff are skilled and resilient – and they stay in the job because of her strong support. This supervisor not only understands best practice, but she can translate them for her team into manageable daily tasks. She helps them develop critical thinking skills, organizational skills, community connections – whatever they need to help them and their families be successful.

When there is a new hire in her unit, she wraps her experienced team around that worker, giving them shadowing and growth opportunities and making them feel part of the agency. She checks in on them regularly just to be sure they are okay and provides plenty of snacks and a listening ear after a rough day. Even her fellow supervisors recognize her as a reliable and committed leader, willing to provide coverage and lend a hand.

Caseworker of the Year: Haleigh Young, Clark County Job & Family Services

Haleigh Young

This worker began as a University Partnership Program student, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average in the spring of 2021. Upon joining the agency, this worker’s passion was evident. She is intentional about building relationships with the families she serves, celebrating birthdays and attending extracurricular activities. This worker goes above and beyond, by recognizing milestones and ensuring that her clients know they are cared for. Her clients describe her as the first person who truly listened to them.

This worker’s leadership extends beyond her casework. She serves as a mentor within the agency, offering guidance and support to new caseworkers and UPP students while fostering a sense of unity among staff members through acts of gratitude, such as leaving handwritten notes and inspirational messages for her colleagues.

This worker’s personal experiences have shaped her into a compassionate and effective advocate, not just within her agency but also in the community. She uses her personal story to inspire and encourage others to overcome their own challenges, and her infectious optimism and positivity uplift everyone she encounters.

In addition to developing tools for social work staff to use when addressing victims of human trafficking, this worker has been involved with Clark County Human Trafficking Coalition, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Ohio Criminal Justice Committee, and Labors of Love Podcast. For the past three years, she has participated as a panel member at the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Summit. She was recently selected by the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Initiative as an Advisory Council Ambassador for the 2023-2025 term.

Support Staff of the Year: Felicia Miller, Madison County Job & Family Services

Felicia Miller

From her first interview with the agency, it was clear that this worker was committed to helping families. She approaches each situation with respect and compassion, meeting families exactly where they are on their journey. She handles even the most challenging situations with grace and composure, exhibiting remarkable de-escalation skills.

Her dedication extends beyond her job description, as she consistently goes above and beyond to support her colleagues, helping wherever needed. She takes personal pride in ensuring that her colleagues receive the necessary training and support to excel in their roles. She took the initiative to improve the agency’s Independent Living program, developing classes and dedicating her weekends to teaching essential life skills to teenagers. When her agency struggled with delays processing drug screenings, she eagerly stepped in to oversee the process and greatly improved the agency’s compliance.

When a nearby county experienced turnover issues that left them shorthanded, this worker agreed to fill in part-time as an on-call screener, sometimes driving an hour away with little notice when a face-to-face meeting was necessary.

This worker’s dedication to her work, her colleagues, and the families she serves makes her an invaluable member of the agency’s team.

Support Advocate of the Year: Kerry Desmarais, Erie County Job & Family Services

Kerry Desmarais

PCSAO and the conference committee heard suggestions from many member agencies to create a fourth staff category – one for a staff member who doesn’t fit the traditional definitions of supervisor, worker, and support staff. Therefore, for the first time this year, we accepted nominations for others in the agency who make a difference. Next, we are pleased to present an award for Support Advocate of the Year.

This advocate goes above and beyond to help those struggling with a substance use disorder, providing them with the encouragement to change and the support to make it happen. Despite changes within her agency, this advocate has never lost focus on her clients. Whatever is needed to help someone find their path to recovery, she jumps, no questions asked.

This advocate is not shy about sharing her personal experience with navigating the child welfare system and uses her lived experience to show others what is possible. Her story gives the families she serves a sense of hope and security knowing that they are not alone, and that recovery is possible.
This advocate works tirelessly to ensure that her clients are connected with community resources and have access to opportunities for self-growth. She has forged positive relationships with community providers and leverages these relationships to ensure that her clients’ care and treatment are efficient, accessible, and coordinated among various providers. While working with providers, she advocates for her clients’ needs, alleviating barriers to scheduling assessments and follow-up appointments that could delay treatment.

With three years of service as an Ohio START family peer mentor, this advocate has helped many families live meaningful and healthy lives.

Caseworker of the Year (posthumous): Tammy Luhring, Summit County

Family of Tammy Luhring

This award was presented posthumously to caseworker Tammy Luhring of Summit County Children Services.

Tammy was a dedicated caseworker at Summit County for 31 years. A champion for the welfare of children and their families, Tammy was a mainstay at the agency.

She served as Placement Diversion Coordinator and worked in the adoptions unit before moving to the Placement Services Department. Notably, Tammy worked tirelessly to support youth in high-needs placements, always with the ultimate goal of reuniting them with their families. She expertly leveraged her experiences from paid placement cases to provide invaluable assistance in Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy (PASSS) cases. Identifying the essential treatments for children so that they remained with their family became a passion.

Tammy’s remarkable networking skills forged vital connections with provider agencies, facilitating prompt access to much-needed resources for youth and families. Her commitment to timeliness, her adaptability, and her proactive support for youth with multi-system needs underscored her sense of personal accountability. Tammy’s legacy extends beyond her casework, as she played a pivotal role in developing training programs for staff focused on her areas of expertise.

Her exemplary work ethic and dedication to Summit County remained steadfast even as she managed her cancer diagnosis. Sadly, Tammy passed away on April 22.

PCSAO Child Advocate of the Year

This award has recognized individuals and organizations that have partnered and advocated with PCSAO to impact the state budget, legislative changes, new program implementation, and have provided a strong voice for change.

Aimee Clemson, Ashtabula County Children Services

Aimee Clemson

Aimee Clemson is an Ohio START caseworker at Ashtabula County Children Services. You may be thinking, we just honored outstanding workers, supervisors and other agency staff, but this is not another staff award.

Aimee Clemson is a single mother who has struggled with anxiety and depression and ultimately substance use disorder. She is a parent who found recovery through participation in Ohio START. You may be thinking, we honored families during yesterday’s luncheon ceremony, but this is not another family award.

Like all of us, Aimee Clemson is a person of many strengths and talents and some struggles along the way.

Today, we are recognizing Aimee because she is an advocate. She made it her life’s mission to help the children and families whose lives are directly affected by the addiction epidemic. She is on the frontlines, protecting the children, while holding their parent’s hand. As someone who experienced children services knocking on her door . . . as someone who took a risk and trusted the Ohio START worker and peer mentor whom she would come to call her “angels” . . . as someone who eventually became a START peer mentor and now an Ohio START caseworker, Aimee leads by way of example and hope, directing her clients toward a pathway of healing and recovery.

This year, Aimee took her mission to the Ohio Statehouse, testifying not once but twice before legislative committees on behalf of PCSAO, asking senators and representatives to fund children services, to fund Ohio START, and to fund hope for families like hers. She and her coworkers made the long trip from Ashtabula County to Columbus, determined to share her moving story of hope. As a state association director, I know that legislators want to hear, not so much from me, but from people who are impacted by the funding decisions they make. During Amy’s testimony, the representatives and senators were hanging on every word, impressed by her courage and inspired by the example of recovery, hope, and change. And it worked! Thanks to Aimee’s advocacy, critical funding was added and restored to the state budget. We would not have been as successful without Aimee being such a powerful witness advocating on PCSAO’s behalf.

As Aimee stated in her testimony, “We CAN recover and we DO recover.” Watch her legislative testimony here (marker 1:12:30) and here (marker 1:45:00).

PCSAO Partner of the Year Award

This year, the PCSAO Board of Trustees has established a new annual conference award: PCSAO Partner of the Year. This award will recognize individuals, organizations, associations, and state leaders and departments for being a good partner collaborating with and supporting PCSAO on children services-related issues.

Joel Potts, Executive Director, Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association

Joel Potts

The first recipient of this new award has been an outstanding, steadfast partner to PCSAO for many years. He has closely collaborated with PCSAO on a variety of issues over the years including many state budgets, contentious legislation, and challenging policy issues. He is a great advocate for counties and provides tremendous leadership on issues impacting county government, particularly job and family services. Personally, he has been a great sounding board for me and has offered regular support and guidance to me over the years.

We are so pleased to announce that our first recipient of the PCSAO Partner of the Year Award goes to Joel Potts, Executive Director of the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association. Joel has more than 35 years of experience with state government, working in and around the Statehouse. One might say, he knows where all the bodies are buried. During his original stint with the state, at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, he managed the development and implementation of Ohio’s welfare reform program. For the last 16 years, he has been a trusted voice for county human services, workforce, technology, and efficiency. In testimony before the General Assembly, Joel has lifted up the vital role that counties play in delivering health and human service programs close to home, improving the experience of service recipients. And at every step of the way, he has supported and expanded the children services function in county agencies. At the end of the day, families, children, seniors; people who need job skills and child care; those who require food stamps or health care will never know how much Joel Potts’ leadership and advocacy helped them in their time of need.

PCSAO’s partnership with our sister associations, the Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency Directors’ Association and the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association, is central to our success. We serve many of the same agencies, advocate on many of the same issues, and, in the case of OJFSDA, rent office space next door to one another. Next month, Joel Potts, OJFSDA’s executive director, will return to state government to work for the new Ohio Department of Children and Youth. He is a friend to PCSAO and our staff, an office neighbor always willing to share resources, and an entertaining storyteller. His leadership of the association will be missed, but we know he will continue to be a stalwart advocate for counties in his new role as Chief of Government and External Affairs.

Dan Schneider Award for Leadership in Training

Scott Britton

As the first full-time director of the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) in 1987, Dan Schneider (1951-2003) spent a lifetime advocating for children and families in Ohio. His vision of excellence in the training of child welfare professionals helped shape the formation of the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program. Begun in 2003, the Dan Schneider Award is presented annually at the PCSAO conference to an individual who reflects Dan’s commitment to improving the lives of Ohio’s children and families by providing unwavering support for the professional development of Ohio’s child welfare staff toward best-practice ideals.

This year’s award was presented to PCSAO Assistant Director and OCWTP Steering Committee Co-Chair Scott Britton.