DDS Field Administrators inspire HOPE in area staff and customers
The field administrators in Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) oversee all field staff in their area. The stories below highlight three field administrators who have demonstrated their priceless merit through their hope-inspiring leadership.
Debbie Moneypenny, Area I Field Administrator, has spent the last 38 years fostering hope and service in both the staff and the families served by OKDHS and DDS. It is not a coincidence but rather a testament to her leadership that a large number of current leaders across the agency started out under Debbie’s guidance.
“Debbie is a great mentor and a great advocate for the people we serve,” said Chris Castleberry, Area I Field Manager. “I’ve learned so many things from her.”
Area I Field Manager James Griffin, mirrored this sentiment. “Debbie has instilled hope in me, and so many others, that what we do makes a difference. Through her leadership, she has supported Area I staff and empowered all of us to make decisions that have impacted the lives of thousands of the individuals we serve. In each of the roles I have worked in, I frequently ask myself ‘what would Debbie do?’ when faced with a decision.”
La’Tasha Ingram, Area II Field Administrator, has been with OKDHS for 25 years this month. Her staff members feel fortunate that she has always remained hands-on in her role and is willing to “be in the trenches” alongside them. Ingram’s colleagues can name countless examples of her selfless spirit and devotion to their customers’ needs.
One day, Ingram received a call about a customer that needed to be relocated immediately. Without a second thought, she assisted with packing up their belongings and accompanied them on their move from Tulsa to Bartlesville. Ingram has also helped with fleet management by picking up cars and relocating them to Tulsa, when she could have easily assigned that task to someone else. When a field manager is feeling swamped, she offers to help with in-person visits. Not to mention, she shows her giving heart at all times by donating money and time to her employees in appreciation of their hard work.
Jeannetta Elliot, an Area II Field Manager, remarked, “I’ve learned a lot from La’Tasha just by observing how she handles different situations with compassion and empathy. This is what leadership looks like. She is DDS’ finest and I appreciate all she does for our division.”
Karla Branam, Area III Field Administrator, has been working in DDS for over 25 years. She began her career working as a group home administrator for a provider agency before she became a case manager with DDS. She has worked as a case manager, case manager supervisor and a field manager. Her past experience has given her an unmatched insight into the needs of her staff and DDS customers. Those who work on Branam’s team say she inspires hope in the staff, customers and providers of Area III with her calm and positive demeanor.
“Karla is a very kind, compassionate and nonjudgmental individual,” said Benny Gullick, an Area III Field Manager. “She has a person-centered mentality and always takes the time to listen, which allows her to envision and suggest the best possible solution to a problem.”
Branam is deeply empathetic toward staff members when they face a problem, whether in their personal life or related to their caseload. She often encourages them to maintain a healthy work-life balance by taking breaks, adjusting their work week and using their leave when necessary.
Another quality her staff admires is her wit and humor. Even on the worst day, Branam can whip out a funny story that leaves everyone in stitches. One story that always gets a laugh from her colleagues is about her return home after a meeting in Pauls Valley.
Branam made a quick stop to fuel up the state car, but the pump did not return a receipt. Without a second thought, she made her way to the gas station store to retrieve one from the cashier. There were two buildings in front of the gas station, and she entered the one on the left and stood in line.
As she waited, she browsed the items on the shelves nearby and admired how they were very pretty and made of ceramic. When she approached the cash register, she asked the cashier for the receipt for pump number one. The cashier looked at her with confusion and said, “Ma’am you are in a dispensary, not a gas station.”
Her self-deprecating humor is enough to make anyone admire her personality, but there are many more reasons why she is revered by her team. Branam has been essential in helping Area III DDS navigate the obstacles encountered with moving to full time telework during the pandemic. The Area III staff appreciate the attentiveness and grace Branam incorporates into her leadership style, and she inspires others to emulate those same qualities.
Moneypenny, Ingram and Branam are #HOPEHeroes for the passion they put into their work and the hope they inspire in others to do the best job possible when serving DDS customers. Each of them has a vibrant spirit of service that spreads through their team and improves outcomes for their customers.