A change in leadership took place over at Buckeye Community Services in March which appointed Tonya Leon as the new Executive Director. Buckeye Community Services (BCS) is a private not for profit agency located in Jackson, Ohio that also serves seven southeastern Ohio counties including Jackson, Meigs, Vinton, Athens, Gallia, Hocking, and Pike counties. BCS provides care for individuals with intellectual disabilities all throughout Southeastern Ohio with a staff of 400 Direct Support Professionals.
Prior to her employment at BCS, Leon was Director of Programming at a large, multi-state rehabilitation community located in Ann Arbor, MI, where she led a diverse team of Clinicians, Directors, Residential Coordinators, and direct care staff as they cared for clients dealing with the challenges of intellectual, traumatic, or ischemic brain conditions.
Her life’s mission is to provide all her clients, regardless of diagnosis, with the best opportunity to attain their highest level of independence possible and to live fulfilling lives.
Leon has always felt a special bond with individuals with intellectual disabilities as she grew up with family members with such conditions. Throughout her 21 years of experience, Tonya has earned a reputation of being a fierce clients’ advocate (playfully dubbed “protector of the weak” by her peers).
Leon recognizes that to deliver the best care possible it is imperative for everyone involved to engage and reach their assigned clients at a personal level. Only then can caretakers understand what and how to effectively provide compassionate care. She firmly believes that understanding the motivations, frustrations, and goals of our clients can produce a strong caretaker-client bond that results in more patient, empathetic and personalized care.
Beyond being a robust clients’ advocate, Leon also possesses exceptional business acumen developed across years of Executive-level experience in large, multimillion-dollar, multi-state agencies. Likewise, she has proven ability for expanding markets, creating new sources of revenue, grant-writing and management, and business acquisitions. She is also well-versed on tracking the political pulse and engaging legislators on issues important to our industry.
Leon is a visionary leader with her eye on innovation and growth. She is also considered a very experienced supervisor with exceptional servant leadership skills. Since early in her career, she has been consistently praised and respected by her supervisors, company management, clients, guardians, and her staff alike, and has proudly worn the title of “firm-but-fair” throughout her career. Her most important belief is to lead-by-example. She also prides herself on developing highly effective teams while creating and maintaining a positive organizational culture.
Being a servant leader comes natural to Leon as she has worked and understands the needs and challenges of all echelons of the DD field. Beginning as a direct care worker, she worked her way up the ranks soon becoming a Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional and later attaining a Regional Director/Business Area Executive position for a residential services company where she supervised over 600 staff members and managed a multimillion-dollar a year budget in support of 200 clients.
She continued her climb, serving as Senior Executive for several years, never losing her compassion or sight of who she ultimately serves, the clients. Along the way, Leon amassed copious amounts of regulatory, financial, and managerial knowledge and experience. Her intimate understanding of the DD field and attention-to-detail were well demonstrated during her time as Quality Assurance Specialists and Internal Auditor.
Leon’s vision for Buckeye Community Services includes expanding services, locations, and reach, as well as making the company the highest quality provider of DD services in the state and beyond.
On a personal note, Leon is a Certified Police Officer for the state of Ohio where she was born and raised. She is currently commissioned in the city of Wellston. She is also a veteran from the U.S. Army where she served as a Supply Specialist. She has an educational background in Criminal Justice and Social Work. Leon lives with her husband Juan, a veterinarian and Air Force veteran, and has three young and active children, Preston (11), Landon (8), and Aleah (5).
“How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.” - Bill Bennot