Cheri L. Walter
In her role as Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Cheri Walter is responsible for supervising Child Support, Communications, Internal Administration, Legislation, Ohio Health Plans, Management Information Systems, Office for Children and Families, Research/Assessment and Accountability, and the Chief Inspector.
Ms. Walter has shown outstanding commitment and dedication to the well-being of children and families in Ohio. Surrounded by growing criticism of Ohio's child welfare system, ODJFS created the Child Welfare Reform Shareholders Group in 1999. Former Director Jacqueline Romer-Sensky asked Ms. Walter to lead the Group in assisting Governor Bob Taft, ODJFS, and family-serving agencies with improving quality services to children and their families. Over the course of one year, Ms. Walter's unquestioned commitment and quest to create a "world-class child welfare system" guided the Shareholders Group to recommend 21 areas of change, to conduct 11 Community Forums across Ohio, and to involve more than 400 Ohioans in the process.
Ms. Walter's personal commitment to children and her problem-solving leadership style propelled the work of the Shareholders Group to a higher standard of effort. As a result, 43 diverse members of the advocacy, agency, legislative, and constituent communities were involved in the Group. The level of accountability and responsibility achieved at the community, county, and state levels set a precedent and sent a clear message across Ohio that ODJFS is dedicated to preventing and treating child abuse and neglect.
Under Ms. Walter's management, ODJFS, in coordination with the Shareholders Group, will pursue such recommendations as: finding suitable treatment alternatives for youth with violent and aggressive behaviors; coordinating and enhancing prevention programs; encouraging statewide marketing efforts targeted toward educating the community about child well-being; and increasing Ohio's financial commitment to the well-being of children in the 2002-2003 biennial budget.
Ms. Walter exemplifies the quality of leadership necessary for reform. Through change, she focuses on the goal and raises participants to a level of achievement without forgetting the population being served. She is able to bring all of the parties to the table and believes in the power of partnership to achieve what others might consider impossible.