Steve Larson work with people with disabilities goes back to the 1970s and 1980s where he started his career in Rochester and with Olmsted County. Steve and his wife Joan began their careers working in group homes for persons with intellectual and developmental challenges. He knows what it’s like to be a direct service worker. He knows what it’s like to get his hands dirty in fulfilling a direct service worker’s job responsibilities. Steve and Joan have done much to help people live in dignity.
Steve then moved up to become the director of Bear Creek Services, an organization dedicated to providing services in the community. Later, he was hired as the developmental disabilities supervisor for Olmsted County, where Randy Bachman, retired director of AXIS healthcare was supervisor and says, “Our supervisory sessions would go something like this: Steve would update me on what he was doing, would tell me what he was planning to do, and give me his insights on how to manage his division, and would outline for me how he was going to deal with its challenges. My response was OK, go do it.” Bachman said, “I never had to worry about him going off the rails. While I technically supervised him, in reality we were both co-equal colleagues moving in the same direction.
Not having his fill of bureaucracy, Steve later transitioned into the state bureaucracy at the Department of Human Services (DHS) as director of the Disability Services Division. He could have stayed there and retired, but chose to jump into the nonprofit world and joined the Arc of Minnesota, as director, and later as the senior public policy director— a role custom-made for Steve.
In addition to his work at the Arc, Steve provided key leadership to MN-CCD. His tireless work with the legislature and the governor’s office and DHS has been instrumental in getting services and supports for anyone with any kind of disability. Steve, now, it is time to put your weary feet up and retire. However, I am not sure anyone can replace them or match his legacy. But we will all need to step up to the plate to produce the contributions that Steve Larson has gracefully given our community.
Editor’s note: The tributes to Anne Henry and Steve Larson were written by MN-CCD Board Chairman Randall Bachman.