Leadership Changes at OSSA: Larry Deal

Posted by on Oct 17, 2019

New Communications Officer and outgoing President, Larry Deal

Our organization is welcoming new leadership for the first time in nearly five years. We’ll be posting a series of articles over the next couple of weeks to introduce our new officers. We invite you to follow along and get to know us a little bit better.

The association of the 14 Brokerages (Oregon Support Services Association) formed back in 2010, as a way to work together to achieve our common goals. Since 2015, Larry Deal has served OSSA as its President, offering wise counsel and thoughtful planning to the association as we have grown. Elected at the same time as Executive Director Katie Rose was hired, the two have worked closely together to negotiate the best possible way forward at every fork in the path. Larry is a humble person who is more comfortable behind the scenes than in front, but anyone who knows him can attest to his creativity, insight, and passion for making things better.

Larry is stepping down as President to make way for new energy, but he will remain with OSSA as our Communications Officer, a role he filled for the first few years of our life. With a flare for visual art and a dedication to expressing complex concepts simply, we are grateful to have him back in the position. Enjoy the interview with our new Communications Officer, Larry Deal.

Tell us a little bit about your professional experience with Brokerages.

Following many years providing direct support and supported living management in Seattle and Tucson, I moved to Oregon at the perfect time. It was 2001 and brokerages were just forming. I was a skills trainer/contractor for early brokerage customers, then landed a position as a Personal Agent. Fast forward a few years and I, along with several extraordinary community members and peers, co-founded the state’s tenth brokerage, Independence Northwest, in 2006. For the past twelve years, I’ve had the honor of being INW’s Executive Director, where we offer brokerage services to a little more than 500 people in the Portland tri-county region.

What is one thing you’ve accomplished professionally that you’re proud of?

In 2007, the state was rushing to meet the terms of the Staley Settlement and Independence Northwest had just been awarded the contract to open the newest brokerage in the Portland metro region. Over an eighteen-month period, we enrolled 450 people into services. It was a tall, tall charge and much more than just case management enrollment. Beyond providing Personal Agent services, our team worked with local self-advocates, families, and organizations to develop new resources, form community partnerships, and expand provider capacity. It was exhausting and it was extraordinarily rewarding.

It is remarkable to see what happens when people receive the right supports. People INW started serving a decade back are now living on their own, getting married, starting their own businesses. It’s an honor for me and my team to witness and play a role in creating community connections. This isn’t just about the changes in our customers’ lives – it’s also about the changing the structure and understanding of the communities we live in.

Give us one hope you have for Brokerage services in Oregon.

Over a half decade ago, language across the service delivery system changed and I hope for some course correction soon. The word “Goal” was removed from plans, replaced by “Desired Outcomes.”  Instead of offering “Community Living Supports,” Oregon began offering “Attendant Care.” Respite supports for caregivers were rebranded as “Relief Care.”  Language matters – it’s what humans use to describe and understand ourselves and our actions. Regressive changes to language have the power to alter perspectives and lower expectations (of self and service). Oregon has long been at the forefront of progressive services – the words we use should reflect and illuminate that for people with disabilities and their families.

Which is your favorite holiday, and why?

Halloween.  Because it happens in October, best month of the year.