September 17, 2014

Medina
Mostly clear
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DD Board selects intertim chief as new superintendent

MEDINA — Annette Davis-Kramp has been named superintendent of the Medina County Board of Development Disabilities.

Davis-Kramp has served as interim superintendent since Dec. 3 following the retirement of Dr. Greg LaForme, who served 10 years as superintendent.

Annette Davis-Kramp

Annette Davis-Kramp

Before that, she had served as director of Adult Services for more than 20 years.

Davis-Kramp’s new contract, which the board approved Monday, will pay $110,000 annually and is effective April 1 through Dec. 31, 2015.

The new superintendent said she always has had a passion to work with people facing developmental disabilities and their families.

“When I started working with individuals with physical and mental disabilities, they really became an inspiration to me,” she said.

Davis-Kramp changed her major to psychology in college after working in a group home with developmentally disabled adults. She said it was amazing to work with people who met life’s challenges head on.

“When I watched individuals with disabilities, they always saw barriers as a little blip to get through,” she said. “They always dealt with it with such dignity, and that’s how they became a total inspiration.”

Davis-Kramp has seen many changes in the way DD boards approach serving people with disabilities in her more than 20 years with Medina’s board of DD.

She said one of the biggest changes in the 1990s was the idea of self-determination. The concept argues that an individual with disabilities has a right to make choices in his life — including what he wants to wear, what he wants to eat and where he wants to live.

Her board has worked with Medina County families to help them get their loved ones with disabilities to make those decisions.

“It really became a civil rights movement for them,” she said. “It used to be they didn’t really have a say; we would make a recommendation for them. Now it’s more about what they want in their life.”

Another big change was pioneered in 2012 — the employment first initiative. A proclamation signed by Gov. John Kasich declared that the “preferred outcome” for all individuals with disabilities would be to work in their community.

“Everyone, no matter who they are, can contribute something to the community,” Davis-Kramp said.

Davis-Kramp has been working closely with Medina County employers to help find work opportunities for the people her agency serves.

“We have some really great businesses we work with, and when people see the success that those companies, have it will continue to spread,” she said. “Medina County is really a wonderful county and we’ve had some great businesses that help us in our endeavor to employ individuals with disabilities.”

Davis-Kramp said she’s going to work to make sure the agency is a good steward of public dollars.

County voters approved a replacement levy in 2012, and local taxes help pay for 83 percent of the board’s operations. The local support is important, she said, because the county can never be sure of what it will get in state and federal dollars.

“The taxpayers of Medina County have been really wonderful to the Medina County Board of (Developmental) Disabilities and we very much appreciate that,” she said. “We’re always trying to increase our efficiency and do more with less.”

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.