Jed Morison first appeared in Dateline 45 years ago. The inaugural issue, printed during the snowy February of 1978, identified him in two ways: Morison was “the administrative assistant who helps decide when schools should be closed due to bad weather,” and also the point of contact for readers “to send us your comments, suggestions, and story ideas.”
He had a hand – usually as the writer, and often the photographer – in nearly 500 Dateline issues that followed. In the newsletter and many other publications, Morison sought to document the work of the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, to note the accomplishments of staff, and to champion the people and families served.
“He thought it was important,” said his wife, Joyce Brown Morison. “He saw it as a way to have a history of what went on, what’s going on, and what will go on. And Jed wanted people to be recognized.”
This month’s Dateline is the last in which Morison will be listed as Superintendent and CEO. He is retiring at the end of December after a 54-year career in public service, including 24 years at the helm of FCBDD.
“He came in with a style of management that brings people together,” said his friend and former colleague Frank New, who served as director of special education for the state and also as an FCBDD administrator.
“Jed could do the political thing, which is great when it comes time for levies. But he also wanted to make the agency better, and better known, every day,” New said. “He’d meet with someone and say, ‘I’d like you to come out and see our program.’ And all of a sudden, there was another person who saw all that people with disabilities could do. That’s the way Jed played it, and he played it hard.”
Morison often says he’s honored to have witnessed a civil rights movement for people with developmental disabilities, with dramatic progress in community living, employment, education, recreation and self-determination. “Jed is always listening, always calling you back if you have a question or concern or want to share something,” said self-advocate Christine Brown. “Some people are not like that. I have an idea that, when Jed retires, he’ll still be available to talk. It won’t be like losing someone.”
Morison’s affability and open-door policies extended to FCBDD employees. He made a habit of regular visits to all of the agency’s sites and departments, from the bus compound and service coordination to schools and early-childhood centers. He didn’t need to meet people more than once to remember their names, jobs and, likely, a personal detail.
Amy Magginis, executive assistant to Morison since 2017, was already an agency veteran when she decided to move to the superintendent’s office. She admits to wondering whether the new job would match up with all she’d heard about Morison’s gift for personal connection, kindness and good humor. “I wasn’t disappointed,” she said. “And I think that says a lot.”
Listing all or even most of Morison’s accomplishments would strain the Dateline format. He has been a school bus driver, counselor and direct-support professional, teacher, Ohio Special Olympics Director, and both Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent/CEO at FCBDD. He served in elective office on the Bexley City Council for 14 years, coached multiple youth sports teams, and was appointed to many boards, commissions and task forces.
Morison isn’t yet sure of his future projects, but he and Joyce plan to spend more time with their four children and 10 grandchildren, all of whom live in Wisconsin. He is considering writing a book on leadership, and might want to return to the classroom.
“One of the things I’m thinking about is teaching a course, something that might help to generate interest among young people to work in this field,” Morison said. “I have loved it. I still do.”