Dr. AZ Soforenko, retired founder, president, and CEO of OCCAZIO, Inc. received his Bachelors degree at the University of Rhode Island, his Masters at the University of Connecticut, and his Doctorate at the Ohio State University, where he was a John F. Kennedy Fellow.
Dr. Soforenko has spent his entire adult life as a career human service professional serving persons with disabilities in several states over a 53 year period. He has held faculty positions in psychology at the Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Hartford.
He has held high level administrative positions in the developmental disabilities field in the states of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Connecticut. He has also published professional papers in respected journals and consulted with various private and non-profit organizations, as well as the Ministry of Education of the State of Israel.
During the 1960s, Dr. Soforenko was appointed to several review committees to survey the need for the use of federal funding to improve resident life in institutions and to develop advanced programs of employee training. During this time, in conjunction with the U.S. Public Health Service, he developed a training film entitled “Careers working with the Mentally Retarded.”
In 1970, Dr. Soforenko took the lead and major responsibility in the country’s first computerized client data collection system in this field.
During the 1970s, as the director of a large developmental center, he demonstrated his leadership abilities by changing a “locked” institution to a less restrictive programmatic environment. Along with other concerned persons interested in change, he personally “cut the bars and locks” off the windows and doors of developmentally disabled persons’ housing.
In 1978, Dr. Soforenko completed the first long term study of the living arrangements for persons discharged from institutional settings. The findings of this study have been used in developing pre- and post programs that are more adaptive to the needs of the dischargees.
Dr. Soforenko has long heralded the need for change in the service delivery system and for the civil rights of developmentally disabled individuals. In many instances he has served as a professional witness for the need for change across the country.
Over the years he has served in several elected positions in professional organizations. This has led to his recent advancement to the level of Fellow Emeritus in the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), based on his long years of service and active participation in the organization.
Dr. Soforenko is a 32 degree Mason and a Member of the Aladdin Shrine. He has been active in community affairs and has had memberships in several civic organizations. He holds the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America.
His personal honors include Marquis Who’s Who in America, the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award, and a John F. Kennedy Doctoral Fellowship at the Ohio State University.
Dr. Soforenko has been married 60 years, and has 5 children, 12 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he now lives in Fishers, Indiana.