While the weather has stopped many people from getting around in Northeast Ohio over the last few weeks, it hasn't stopped the new superintendent of the County of Summit Developmental Disabilities Board from getting to know the area.

While the weather has stopped many people from getting around in Northeast Ohio over the last few weeks, it hasn’t stopped the new superintendent of the County of Summit Developmental Disabilities Board from getting to know the area.

The board named John Trunk as the new superintendent Oct. 1, and he started the position Dec. 1.

Since then, Trunk has gotten to know the area and most of the people who work at Summit DD along with many of those who receive services. Getting to know everyone is part of his 90-day plan.

“I’ve visited all of our buildings and have gotten to know most of the staff and many of the individuals who we support, and I’ve gotten to meet many of the families,” Trunk said.

“The next step is to introduce myself to those in the community such as our support agencies, elected officials, county officials and the media,” he said.

Trunk started his career in this field with the Williams County DD in 1991 and became assistant superintendent at Lucas County DD in 1999. He became superintendent there in 2002.

He was born and raised in the Chicago area. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Illinois State University and a master’s degree in rehabilitation administration from DePaul University in Chicago.

One of the reasons Trunk decided to come to Summit DD was because of the reputation the organization has built through the years.

“Summit DD has a superior reputation in the developmental disabilities field in Ohio. It is known for having best practices and being on the cutting edge when it comes to helping individuals find jobs, acquiring affordable and appropriate

housing and providing services for the individuals and families served,” Trunk said.

His transition is going well. Trunk said the community has made him feel welcomed including everyone within the Summit County system as well as those in the community. He has been meeting with provider agencies and others in the area and is impressed with the collaborative efforts going on in Summit County.

While Trunk and his wife, Barb, have been getting out in the area and visiting some of the local restaurants and shops, his focus has been on Summit DD. He has been identifying areas in the system where it is excelling as well as determining where the agency maybe falling short and then providing solutions to strengthen those areas.

“Some of the strong areas for Summit DD are the amazing things we are doing with young kids. We also have a strong intervention program. Many people in the system are living in community housing and Summit County has done an amazing job of helping individuals find housing,” Trunk said.

Other areas that are very strong in the system Trunk mentioned include efforts the agency has made to build awareness of the board in the community and the way the Summit DD has built an environment of trust. Lastly, he is encouraged to see people in the community help support the agency’s mission of helping individuals with disabilities become part of the community.

There are a few areas where he has implemented change and some areas that he is planning to make changes. One area is to expand communications internally between management and the workforce. A second area is to expand external communications, including revamping the agency’s website.

“We are working on updating the language we use so that it is more useable by our parents and we are trying to include more success stories and bringing those to the forefront,” said Billi Jo David, director of communications.

“In the next 90 days the community will see a different look for Summit DD. The new website will be up and running late summer,” she said.

Long-term goals include supporting everyone in the community who is in need of or are eligible for services. The agency serves 4,200 people. Trunk said there are individuals in the area who may not be receiving services.

“Our system has been growing, and we need to strategize for that growth,” Trunk said. “One way to do that is to expand our support network of providers in the area. The Summit County DD cannot do it all by itself. It takes a network of community providers to deliver services.

David said the agency has more than 200 providers it works with, with including Goodwill Industries, Hattie Larlham, United Disability Services, Admore and many others.

jgiampietro 2/20/14 Plus, there are national trends from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) related to employment for those individuals with disabilities taking shape that Summit County DD is addressing as part of its long-term planning.

“Our challenge for Summit County is to continue to support those who want to continue to stay working in the sheltered workshop because they may not be able to work out in the community. We want to be able to provide education and resources so that our individuals can make informed choices if they are able to work in the community and want to while working with the schools to transition children in schools to be able to work out in the community. We want to be on the forefront of the National initiatives and do what’s right,” David said.

Trunk feels like the area has a great “home feel” to it. He said in the short time he has been here, he is fast becoming aware of the many restaurants, diverse shopping, great theater and the sports teams.

Working in this field has been a fulfilling career for Trunk. He said he couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“This is all I’ve ever done,” he said. “I stumbled across the field 34 years ago. It’s been very rewarding. This field helps people live good lives and lives that are important to them. I love it.”

He and his wife have four adult children and two grandchildren. They have a son who is married with one son who lives in Cincinnati. Another son is also married and lives in Dayton and has one little girl. Their third son is attending graduate school at the University of Toledo and their daughter is a senior at Miami University Ohio working on a special education teaching degree.