Mathew Freeman, MACSSA Executive Director; Deb Sjostrom, Otter Tail County Human Services Director; Lynne Valdes, Otter Tail County Deputy Administrator.

The Minnesota Association of County Social Service Administrators (MACSSA) has awarded Deb Sjostrom, Otter Tail County Human Services Director, the 2022 Human Services Award.

Sjostrom was nominated for this award based on her demonstration of outstanding leadership, her demonstration of high level of commitment to serving persons in need, and her exemplary professional standards.

“Deb is a great leader in building trust and relationships. She is recognized as an advocate for all county social services. She is tenacious and hardworking,” said Mathew Freeman, MACSSA Executive Director.

“This was humbling,” Sjostrom said. “It is about the ability to serve and help people but also to lead a team to help people.”

Julie Ellis nominated Sjostrom and commented about her commitment to persons in need.

“In the process of navigating bureaucracies and complex policy issues, Deb does not lose sight of the constituents and consumers in need of services,” Ellis said. “Deb is fiercely driven to advocate for others – those that are in need, are marginalized or are underrepresented. Her motivation is pure. She is 100 percent others-focused.”

Sjostrom began working as a social worker for Otter Tail County in 1990. She was recognized as a leader and promoted to Supervisor in 2006 in the Long-Term Care/Development Disabilities Unit.  Deb began working as the Human Services Director in 2015 and continues to serve in this role.  She has been a member of MACSSA since 2010 and during that time has assumed many leadership roles including Secretary (2019), President-elect (2020) President (2021), and Past-president (2022).

“I was fortunate to be at the event to witness the standing ovation, the caring and respect her colleagues across the state have for her, and the recognition of the lengthy list of contributions she’s made that have served not only Otter Tail County but Minnesota as a whole,” said Lynne Valdes, Otter Tail County Deputy Administrator.

MASSA is a professional association of human service administrators that serve the citizens of Minnesota’s 87 counties, committed to building a unified network of partnerships to advocate for meaningful system improvement, influence policy and legislation, and promote quality human services that positively impact our citizens, communities, and counties throughout Minnesota.