About the OSSA

Brokerages have longed worked in collaboration to build and expand in-home services to adult Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The group of Brokerage leaders began by gathering every month for state partnership and guidance, and gradually extended our time to spend in peer fellowship. Identifying and responding to the needs of our growing IDD community-based service system was a unifying charge for all Brokerages. We shared innovative staffing ideas, new approaches to old problems, and ideas from our self-advocate leaders to improve services.

Our local communities and agencies may have differences, but our intentional culture is statewide, committed to putting true power and control in the hands of people with IDD. We come together around the values of self-determination for all Oregonians—freedom to choose a meaningful life in the community, authority over the supports and the money that is spent, support to organize resources in ways that are life enhancing and meaningful to the individual with a disability, responsibility for the wise use of public dollars and recognition of the contribution individuals and families make to their communities, and confirmation of the central role individuals and families have in leadership and change.

Our agencies are built on the idea that people who use IDD services and their families should be advising and directing our services; our governing boards must always be populated by at least 51% people with IDD and their families.

The Oregon Support Services Association is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, incorporated in December of 2010 with a mission to represent and support our members: community Brokerage organizations that support people with disabilities.

In 2013, the wholesale IDD system change of the K Plan required unified response and engagement from Brokerage leaders.

The Community First Choice (K) state plan was adopted by Oregon in summer of 2013, bringing with it all new federal regulations and requirements that led to massive revision of Oregon community-based services programs. New policies, new rules, new practices, and new groups were formed and written at a frenetic pace. As the state’s primary case management entity for community-based services for the previous 13 years, Brokerages were heavily involved in these stakeholder groups. The community of Brokerage leaders leaned heavily on their relationships and Association to meet the demands of this engagement and still steer their own agencies through a time of difficult change. Our OSSA Presidents during these years, Margaret Theisen and, later, Larry Deal, stepped up time and again to meet the charge with support from other OSSA members.

More Brokerage engagement was needed to solidify and expand the values of self-determination.

Keeping up with the amount of meetings, policy work, and legislative engagement now asked of our community proved unsustainable for a group of agency Executive Directors. Unwilling to sacrifice either our agency leadership or our active engagement in state decision-making, OSSA decided to hire its first support: an Executive Director, Kathryn Weit. Kathryn was a longtime, visionary leader in the field of disability services and advocacy, and a key figure behind the formation of Brokerage community-based case services. Kathryn agreed to come out of retirement in 2014 to serve as OSSA’s first Executive Director, representing the system and values she believed in to her very core. OSSA will always be grateful to Kathryn for her dedication, leadership, and generosity.

In 2015, Kathryn again retired. OSSA decided to expand the Executive Director role into a full-time

position, hiring Katie Rose. Katie’s previous 11 years working at a Brokerage, from Personal Agent to Brokerage Director, have served her and OSSA well in the role. Under Katie, OSSA has expanded its legislative action, supporting people with IDD and their families to tell the stories and speak on the issues that matter to them. Katie works with the disability advocate community, state partners, CDDP colleagues, and many others to deepen our collective commitment to our shared values.

OSSA’s work continues to evolve and change to respond to the needs of our community.

We are here for one another and the Brokerage community as we navigate and respond to new challenges.

Funding and progressive policy are the building blocks of IDD services. The IDD community has been deeply involved over the past several years in creating strategic goals, plans for improvement, and impassioned arguments for funding to stabilize our core service sector.  Recent legislative sessions have yielded landmark investments in IDD services thanks to the hard work and unified voice represented by our partners at the DD Coalition, their off-shoot GO! Project, and the many members who contribute to this work, including OSSA.

Each Brokerage is a member of OSSA, and we still work together to find identify and respond to our local and statewide community needs with innovative and creative solutions. Learn more about our members serving your community in Our Members section.