SIDNEY — For the first time since 2005, the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities will officially have a new superintendent, effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Leigh Anne Wenning, of Anna, joined the board on Sept. 10 of this year, and has been working alongside contemporary Superintendent Laura Zureich, whose tenure will end on Dec. 31.
Wenning previously served at the Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities for 14 years in multiple capacities, most recently as human resources director.
Her new role as superintendent will be in service to both SCBDD and Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
According to Zureich, the two entities began sharing some administrative services in 2011 as a way to save money while not impacting the services provided to people within either county.
“The boards liked that model and wanted to continue it, so they did an employment search to represent both counties and that is the position that Leigh Anne has been hired for,” Zureich said.
“(She) and I are working together for a little bit of overlap,” Zureich continued. “We’ve had a lot of meetings and visited a lot of people, (including) all the public officials and people in our own system, provider organizations, and all the school districts.
“Leigh Anne has experience working for a county board of developmental disabilities, but not as a superintendent and not in a shared situation. It’s a lot to get acclimated to.”
“It is a lot,” Wenning added. “I’m coming from a single county board, so the time I’m able to spend with Laura has been such a gift; just being able to watch the way she leads, and how she juggles things. It’s a lot different having two boards; you have two different sets of staff, and the counties and individuals you serve are just different, so coming into that, I’m grateful to have the time with Laura that I do.”
Although the job change will be significant, Zureich said she is confident in Wenning’s ability.
“I feel very peaceful leaving both of the counties in Leigh Anne’s hands,” she said. “That was probably the thing I was most nervous about, but the boards did a really good job with their hiring process in identifying the traits they wanted to see in ongoing leadership here.”
Prior to her role with the SCBDD, Zureich served for 15 years on the Union County Board of Developmental Disabilities in Marysville, first as a caseworker.
“A woman I had worked with in another organization was working for the Union County board and called to tell me about an opening,” Zureich said. “I really didn’t have a good idea of what it was but I applied, they hired me, and the rest is history.”
She also worked as supervisor, assistant superintendent and superintendent for Union County prior to her move to Shelby County.
Zureich said she ascribes her entrance into this sector of work to “happenstance.”
“Some people in this field are very purposeful about it, but many times people were just lucky, you know, a door opened and you weren’t sure what you were stepping into, but you did, and you found you loved it,” she said. “That’s what happened to me.”
Along with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both Zureich and Wenning have superintendent certification through the state of Ohio.
Zureich earned a bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in counseling, both from Kent State University, and Wenning earned a bachelor’s in psychology from Wright State University and a Master of Science in administration from Central Michigan University.
Wenning, who has lived in Shelby County for the past 14 years, said she is glad to be working close to home.
“Working in Miami County for 14 years, I spent a lot of time there, so being able to come back and meet the people that are my neighbors and community members has been really positive for me,” she said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to do that.”
Wenning said she is thankful for Zureich’s guidance during the transition into her role as superintendent.
“She’s very well-known in our field, so being able to observe her, see how she leads, and how she reacts to certain situations; it’s been a wonderful learning experience for me,” Wenning said.
“She’s beloved, she really is, and not only by the employees,” Wenning continued. “When you work in this field and you see an administrator being so well-received by the people you serve, that’s how you know their heart is in their job.”