Steve Hinkle Interview
"So you take funding, you take turmoil, you take parents, you take need, and then you had that end of society and their reactions to a person with 'mental retardation'..." When Steve (Stephen L.) Hinkle took on the challenges and leadership of the Johnson County ARC in Franklin, Indiana in 1974, the average CEO in similar organizations lasted less than two years. Services for people with disabilities and their families, access to public schools, operating monies, were all in scarce supply. Steve reflects upon the beginnings of a career that led to a 34-year tenure as President/CEO of Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana. Steve retired there in 2010 and was interviewed in 2012.
Steve recounts his work in Allen county with the closure of the Fort Wayne State Development Center, and starting some of the state's first group homes. He describes the closure as 98 percent positive for the Center's residents transitioning into the community. He worked to change attitudes and to enact legislation that removed some of the zoning issues preventing group homes from opening. He discusses the relative economics of serving individuals in institutions or group homes, and obtaining new county tax funds "that helped kick off everything." Steve was instrumental in supporting the early days of the "People First" or self-advocacy movement, and in implementing a public transportation training program. Those served were thrilled to ride the bus instead of being transported in dedicated passenger vans, says Hinkle.
He acknowledges particular pride in his vision of a ballroom dance program for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. With support from Special Olympics Indiana and the United States Ballroom Dance Association, the initiative became the first of its kind in the U.S.
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