N R ews eview

Cheryl Ann Programs
FALL 2014
Shawn Thieman to Lead Cheryl Ann
Mercer DD Board Names Thieman as New Superintendent
Shawn Thieman will become
the next superintendent of Cheryl
Ann Programs when longtime
Superintendent Mike Overman
retires at the end of this year.
Thieman, 42, has been Cheryl
Ann’s business manager since
“Shawn met all of the qualities
we were looking for in the next
leader of the program,” said Board
President Teri Spoltman. “Shawn
is of extremely high character and
possesses many leadership capabilities. He has been our business
manager for the past six years so
he obviously has a strong hold on
the financial aspects of running
the program. Since he has been in
a management position at Cheryl
Ann for several years, he has also
developed a strong chemistry with
not only the other employees,
but, more importantly, the people
with disabilities in Mercer County
whom we serve.”
Thieman said he looks forward to building on the foundation
that has been set at Cheryl Ann.
“I hope to continue with the work
that Mike has set the groundwork
for,” he said. “I’ve been extremely
fortunate to work with him. I can’t
begin to explain how selfless he is,
and how impressed I am with him.
With every decision he makes, he
asks, what impact will this have on
the people of Cheryl Ann?”
He also looks forward to
working with “one of the best DD
boards in the state. Cheryl Ann
Programs is an amazing place. A
lot of what I have to do next is to
continue down the path of success
that has been set for us.”
Thieman lives in St. Henry
with his wife, Tracy, and their three
children. He has an MBA from
Wright State University. Before
joining Cheryl Ann, he spent
eight years as the program director
with the Tri-County ADAMH
(Alcohol, Drug Addiction and
Mental Health) Board, based in
Van Wert, Ohio.
Prior to that, Thieman was
a case manager with the Mercer
County Mental Health Center in
Coldwater. “I went into homes, I
worked with families, hospitals
and individuals,” he said.
“I learned from that experience
how important family support can
be for people who are struggling to
fit into society, and I learned what
it was to have a good relationship
with the people you are trying
to help.”
While as business manager he had to keep an eye on the
numbers, he believes that administrators also have to think creatively. His experience in working
with individuals and families as a
caseworker, and his experience in
administration provide him with a
Shawn Thieman, right, has been
named Cheryl Ann superintendent to replace Mike Overman,
who will retire at the end of 2014.
good balance as he prepares to lead
Cheryl Ann Programs, he said.
“Shawn possesses a strong
commitment to Cheryl Ann Programs,” Spoltman said. “He is eager
to take on the leadership role and
move forward with the mission
of Cheryl Ann to help individuals
with disabilities and their families
discover, pursue, and achieve what
is important to them.”
Mike Overman to Retire in December
Under his leadership, Cheryl Ann grew, reached out, evolved
(The summer issue of
the Cheryl Ann News Review
explored the early years of Mike
Overman’s career at Cheryl Ann
Programs. Overman, who has
been Cheryl Ann’s superintendent for more than 30 years, is
retiring at the end of this year.)
Before the state of Ohio
paid much attention to children
with developmental disabilities, homegrown activists in
Mercer County had established
a program for those children
that became Cheryl Ann School
(later Cheryl Ann Programs).
In the 1960s, the state began to
catch up to those parents’ desire
that their children be offered
some of the same opportunities
as children with typical abilities.
In 1967, the state of Ohio created a board of mental retardation in each county to create a
school setting for children with
special needs.
“It was meant to give
those children some training,
and give their families some
relief,” Overman said. “The state
provided no significant money,
but it did create a structure. It
was a major game changer.”
Overman, it turned out,
was also a game changer. He
had been a classroom teacher
at Cheryl Ann School for a few
years (in the meantime earning
a master’s degree as an administrator in special education from
Wright State University), before
the superintendent’s position
opened up in 1982. By that time
he had ideas about where he
would like Cheryl Ann to go,
and what he would like it to
be. He was ready. He applied,
and was hired as Cheryl Ann’s
“I was enthusiastic
about teaching. I loved the kids
and truly felt I could make a
difference in their lives,” Overman said. “But I felt that if I was
the superintendent, I could have
more impact on more people’s
In the beginning, it
was very much a hands-on
position. “When I started, we
had a school program and a
pre-school program, plus one
Mike has built strong and trusting relationships with persons with
disabilities and their families, agencies, schools and the citizens
of Mercer County. Under his leadership, Mercer County DD is
a highly respected agency with overwhelming support from the
community. His influence will be felt for many years to come and
he will be greatly missed. Cindy Shafer, retired CAES coordinator
I have always been impressed with Mike’s love of his job, his love of
the people he works with, his love of his community, and his love
and commitment to the individuals with disabilities whom
he serves.
John Martin, director, Ohio Department of DD
teacher who did home visits
and spent time with our elderly
associates,” he said. “We had the
workshop, which was the only
option we could offer for adults,
and buses that brought people
in and took them home. I was a
substitute teacher and a substitute bus driver.”
The field of helping
those with developmental
disabilities continued to grow.
“Research started coming out.
We learned more and more
about community employment,
case management and adult
day services—and all the other
issues that come up in people’s
lives,” he said. Cheryl Ann
grew to meet those needs, from
respite care to family support,
to recreational opportunities, to
job training.
Residential services
was another area of growth, as
Cheryl Ann helped individuals
find appropriate places to live.
“We had a significant number
of people who were living in
their family homes or out in
the community, who in the past
would have been institutionalized,” he said. “Overwhelmingly,
they have proven to be good
neighbors and they have good
Cheryl Ann, which
Overman calls a “cradle to
grave” program, established an
early intervention program for
newborns to age three. “Last
year, we served 125 individual
children and their families. We
get no federal or state funding
for our early intervention program. We’ve consciously chosen
to support any children or
families who are seeing
delays in development,
because early intervention
absolutely works,” he said.
Cheryl Ann is able
to move forward with its
innovative programming
because it feels the support of the local taxpayers, who have generously
approved levies over the
“My gut feeling is that
the majority of Mercer
County voters, when they
hear the words ‘Cheryl
Ann,’ it rings positive to
them. What we’re doing
rings true to them,” he
said. “The taxpayers support us, and in return we
provide the best possible
service we can to people
with developmental disabilities.”
It’s about the people
with Cheryl Ann and
with Mike Overman,
and, from start to finish,
it always has been. “The
people who work in our
field are overwhelmingly care-giving people.
It’s good to have some
type-A people in an
organization like ours,
but not too many: they
are generally not attracted
to this field because they
may feel things move too
slowly,” he said. “If you
are in too big of a hurry
with an associate, you are
not going to get anywhere
and you are going to be
really frustrated, and so
are they.”
Being a supporter and
an encourager and nev-
er a hindrance: that has
been at the heart of his
career. He sees himself as
a bridge between all the
services that are available,
the associates, and their
“I’ve always had a
strong connection for
the families of those we
serve,” he said. “Parents
come in and talk with me,
and I can feel their hurt
and their joy. Essentially,
that’s been my mantra: we
are here for the individuals and their families.”
The families, in turn,
hold him in the highest
regard. “Mike’s ongoing
support and advocacy
for our children with
developmental disabilities let us know we were
not alone in raising our
children over the years,”
said Diane Menchhofer,
who with her husband,
Tim, raised two sons with
developmental disabilities. “He taught us,
by his example, to value
our children and appreciate their abilities. He will
be so missed—he
is a friend as well as a
Families are an integral part of Cheryl Ann,
Overman said. “That will
be my first piece of advice
for my successor: respect
the families. Understand
that they come from a different perspective as you,
but their perspective is at
least as valid as yours. If
you lose the support of
the families, you might as
well pack it up.”
Top to bottom: Mike Overman at his desk
with a stack of the documents that have
been part of his life for over 30 years; Mike
pays a visit to Serenity Springs group at
Cheryl Ann; and Mike with the Warren
Menchhofer family, who were given the
Albert Heckler award in 2013. It’s an award
that he established for Cheryl Ann’s notably
supportive families.
Featuring the
S P OT L I G H T O N :
Tori Heck has a sharp eye for
detail, and that makes her an invaluable associate with Outsource
Solutions as well as
in her enclave job
with Pax Machine
Works in Celina.
“She is fast and
thorough. Details
are her specialty,”
said Darl Strable,
enclave manager.
“She is always
Tori Heck
on time and
always dependable.”
Tori lives in Mendon with her
parents, Nickie and Andy Heck,
and the family’s four dogs, two cats
Cheryl Ann Programs
4980 Mud Pike
Celina OH 45822
amazing people
at Cheryl Ann
and two fish. She helps at home
and also at Cheryl Ann, where the
staff relies on her when it’s time to
decorate for the holidays.
“Tori is a great artist and she
is always willing to help us out,”
said Jill Petrie, team leader of
Outsource Solutions. Tori draws,
paints and works in ceramics and
She is a real asset to Outsource
Solutions and to the businesses
who benefit from her work ethic.
“Tori strives for perfection no
matter what job she is doing,”
said Jessica Dilhoff, support
specialist. “She does her best at
October 27: Mercer County Board
of DD meeting, 7:30 p.m.
November 11: Cheryl Ann Programs is closed for Veterans Day.
November 20: ARC meeting at
Community Hospital,
7 p.m.
24: Mercer
County board of DD meeting, 7:30
November 27–28: Cheryl Ann Programs is closed for Thanksgiving.
December 12: Christmas party for
associates, at the Mud Pike facility.
(In case of bad weather, it will be
held December 15).
December 22: Mercer County Board
of DD meeting, 7:30 p.m.
Cheryl Ann
Happy Thanksgiving
from Cheryl Ann Programs!
We’re grateful for all our families
and friends!