OKLAHOMA CITY (MAY 8, 2019) — The Oklahoma Senate today confirmed Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) Executive Director Steven Buck to remain as the agency’s head and, in a separate vote, his appointment to serve as secretary of human services and early childhood initiatives on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet.
The Senate voted 47-0 to confirm Buck’s nomination as OJA executive director, a position Buck has held since 2016. Under legislation passed earlier this year, the governor now appoints OJA’s executive director instead of the agency’s board.
In a separate action, senators voted 46-0 to confirm Stitt’s appointment as secretary of human services and early childhood initiatives on the governor’s Cabinet; he served as secretary of health and human services under the previous governor.
“I’m grateful for the support of the Senate and the opportunity provided by Governor Stitt to concurrently serve as a member of his Cabinet and as director of the Office of Juvenile Affairs,” said Buck. “For Oklahoma to be a Top 10 state, we must prioritize healthy development, education, employment preparation and productive community engagement for our young people. It also requires accountability and opportunity for those who can benefit from appropriate supports to foster lifetime engagement. This emphasis requires unique collaborations, innovative thinking and a laser focus on providing high-quality services to those we are responsible serving.
“Governor Stitt wants agile collaboration between state agencies, nonprofit organizations and other partners to improve the social, emotional and physical well-being of our young children and full-life engagement for others served by this Cabinet. I am eager to do my part to facilitate a state where all Oklahomans may enjoy maximum opportunity and healthy vibrant relationships.”
As secretary of human services and early childhood initiatives, Buck is responsible for 34 agencies, boards and commissions, including the Department of Human Services and OJA.
As OJA’s executive director, Buck is responsible for the overall management of the agency’s operated and contracted programs and services. He works directly with the agency’s governing board to facilitate agency priorities, planning and operational performance.
Tony Caldwell, chairman of OJA’s nine-member board, applauded the Senate’s action.
“I enjoy working with Steve and appreciate his enthusiasm and knowledge in implementing methods and procedures improving how we treat young people in the care of the Office of Juvenile Affairs,” Caldwell said. “He also understands how our human services agencies work and how we can improve outcomes. I consider him an innovative and inspirational leader and an unwavering advocate for children and families.”
Before joining OJA, Buck served nine years as deputy commissioner for communications and prevention at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Prior to that, he worked 10 years for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness in multiple roles, including national director of state policy and executive director of NAMI Oklahoma.
Buck has advocacy experience working with multiple state legislatures and has been involved in numerous policy initiatives. His professional career has included collaborative work in the policy areas of mental health, substance abuse, human services, corrections and juvenile justice.
Buck and his wife, Lisa, have four daughters and two sons. A native Oklahoman, he is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and he earned a master of arts in administrative leadership from the University of Oklahoma.