FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
State Senate Confirms OJA ExecutiveDirector Steven Buck to Remain AgencyHead, Serve as Cabinet Secretary ofHuman Services and Early ChildhoodInitiatives
OKLAHOMA CITY (MAY 8, 2019) — The Oklahoma Senate today confirmed Office ofJuvenile Affairs (OJA) Executive Director Steven Buck to remain as the agency’s headand, in a separate vote, his appointment to serve as secretary of human services andearly childhood initiatives on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet.
The Senate voted 47-0 to confirm Buck's nomination as OJA executive director, aposition Buck has held since 2016. Under legislation passed earlier this year, the governornow appoints OJA’s executive director instead of the agency’s board.
In a separate action, senators voted 46-0 to confirm Stitt’s appointment as secretary ofhuman services and early childhood initiatives on the governor’s Cabinet; he served assecretary of health and human services under the previous governor.
“I’m grateful for the support of the Senate and the opportunity provided by Governor Stittto concurrently serve as a member of his Cabinet and as director of the Office of JuvenileAffairs,” said Buck. “For Oklahoma to be a Top 10 state, we must prioritize healthydevelopment, education, employment preparation and productive communityengagement for our young people. It also requires accountability and opportunity forthose who can benefit from appropriate supports to foster lifetime engagement. Thisemphasis requires unique collaborations, innovative thinking and a laser focus onproviding high-quality services to those we are responsible serving.
“Governor Stitt wants agile collaboration between state agencies, nonprofit organizationsand other partners to improve the social, emotional and physical well-being of our youngchildren and full-life engagement for others served by this Cabinet. I am eager to do my
part to facilitate a state where all Oklahomans may enjoy maximum opportunity andhealthy vibrant relationships.”
As secretary of human services and early childhood initiatives, Buck is responsible for 34agencies, boards and commissions, including the Department of Human Services andOJA.
As OJA’s executive director, Buck is responsible for the overall management of theagency's operated and contracted programs and services. He works directly with theagency's governing board to facilitate agency priorities, planning and operationalperformance.
Tony Caldwell, chairman of OJA’s nine-member board, applauded the Senate’s action.
“I enjoy working with Steve and appreciate his enthusiasm and knowledge inimplementing methods and procedures improving how we treat young people in the careof the Office of Juvenile Affairs,” Caldwell said. “He also understands how our humanservices agencies work and how we can improve outcomes. I consider him an innovativeand inspirational leader and an unwavering advocate for children and families.”
Before joining OJA, Buck served nine years as deputy commissioner for communicationsand prevention at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance AbuseServices. Prior to that, he worked 10 years for NAMI, the National Alliance on MentalIllness in multiple roles, including national director of state policy and executive director ofNAMI Oklahoma.
Buck has advocacy experience working with multiple state legislatures and has beeninvolved in numerous policy initiatives. His professional career has included collaborativework in the policy areas of mental health, substance abuse, human services, correctionsand juvenile justice.
Buck and his wife, Lisa, have four daughters and two sons. A native Oklahoman, he is agraduate of Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economicsand he earned a master of arts in administrative leadership from the University ofOklahoma.
For additional information, contact:
Michael McNutt/OJA Communications Director
(405) 530-2860 Office / (405) 249-6072 Cell
Paula Christiansen/ OJA Public Information Officer
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