The superintendent of the Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board says he will retire after serving 40 years in the field and the last 13 in Summit County as the chief executive.
Tom Armstrong, 61, said his time with the Summit DD has been a great experience and much of his success has been because of the citizens’ support of people with developmental disabilities and their families and the board’s vision.
“I have shared the board’s vision,’’ he said. ‘‘I can’t say enough about the board members. They are all volunteers, there are seven volunteers and they are responsible for a huge organization and their mission is to make sure people with disabilities get their needs met. The members take that very seriously. It is my job as superintendent and the staff’s job to go out and make that vision happen.”
The Summit DD board serves more than 4,000 people. It is a levy-funded agency with an operating budget of $73 million.
“The staff is about 600 employees and they work with a couple of hundred private, individual and agency providers throughout Summit County, so it’s a real partnership,” Armstrong said.
Board President Randy Briggs said Armstrong has led the agency to create innovative services for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.
“Under his leadership the agency has more than doubled the number of people that it has served while improving satisfaction from persons served, parents and guardians, and the public,” Briggs said. “Armstrong started his career with the agency during difficult financial times and has implemented cost efficiencies that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the agency.”
Armstrong said he feels the greatest accomplishment during his tenure was maximizing federal Medicaid dollars and eliminating waiting lists for services.
“There is no waiting list for day services and no waiting list for residential services and we are very, very proud of that,” he said. “It’s been a collaboration with the board and private providers and families to try to make that happen. We were the first urban county to accomplish that.”
He said another accomplishment has been to get services to people in the communities where they live.
“A real focus of ours is to try to get people with developmental disabilities access to the services and support they need in their own communities throughout Summit County,” Armstrong said. “We’ve built smaller adult facilities in Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Ellet and Coventry and we have centers all over the county. We are now partnering with providers of children’s services throughout the county so that families who have children with disabilities can also get those services where they live.”
The board will use the services of the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities to assist with the search for a new superintendent. The board has a membership with the OACBDD so there is no additional cost for the service.
Armstrong said he will stay on the job until a replacement is found.
“I am committed to the board. I’m not going anywhere until they are comfortable they found the right person to succeed me,” he said. “I anticipate that to happen in the fall or by the end of the year.”
Armstrong said he is not sure what he will do with his free time but he is ready to take it easy for a while.
“We all have our bucket list nowadays,’’ Armstrong said. ‘‘I would like to travel and see some places I haven’t seen, work on my golf game, spend time with family and friends and just relax a little bit.”
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.