Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2023 by Team Northwoods

Cheers to 20 Years: Celebrating Success and What’s Next for Northwoods

The year was 2003. Beyonce and Jay-Z were “Crazy in Love,” “Wicked” made its Broadway debut, and Marlin and Dory took us on an oceanwide adventure in “Finding Nemo.” That same year, Apple launched its original iTunes Music Store and camera phones began taking the US by storm. Here in Dublin, Ohio, a small but mighty technology company called Northwoods was starting to take shape.

Throughout this year we’ve been celebrating our 20th anniversary by reflecting on our past two decades of work and achievements and celebrating what’s to come. As 2023 comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to look back, look forward, and say thank you to everyone who has been part of our story.

Blog about Northwoods 20th anniversary in human services

How It Started: Transforming Human Services Through Technology

First, a little history lesson. You may recall previous versions of Northwoods as “Technology at Work” or “Image IT.” Some employees from those early days still work here now! But it was in 2003 that we began to solidify our focus on human services and became the Northwoods that exists today. It was also during that time (2006, to be exact) that we officially launched Compass®, our legacy software suite.

Some key milestones as we’ve grown:

12-12-2023 20th anniversary timeline graphicSome themes that have carried us through:

  • Falling in love with customers’ problems: Over the years, our team has spent thousands of hours with our customers to understand their current challenges and anticipate future needs. We watch what they do, how they do it, and where they struggle—looking at each issue from all sides to connect it with the right technology and services to solve those problems in new and unique ways.
  • Helping caseworkers feel seen and heard with our solutions: Caseworkers often don’t feel like they have a voice in anything, which makes their already difficult work that much harder. We lead with compassion and empathy and listen to our customers to keep learning and evolving. Our employees with human services experience impact how our software and services are designed and implemented and support the project from start to finish.
  • Empowering agencies to embrace change: Change is inevitable, but change is hard—especially in human services when your capacity is already limited. But we believe that change can also be exciting! Agencies can adapt with the right resources and partner to support you along the way. We’ve worked with our customers for the past 20 years to develop best practices and proven strategies to help agencies embrace change and ease the journey.
  • Focus on supporting our community: Since Northwoods is all about human services, it probably won’t surprise you that we encourage a strong culture of helping others. Our employee-driven Northwoods Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, provides an average $170,000 in direct assistance each year, while empowering staff to support local nonprofit partners through volunteer and fundraising initiatives. We also encourage all employees to use up to 20 hours of company time every year to volunteer in efforts together and for causes near and dear to their hearts. We also support our communities through action and raising awareness.

What our partners say about these themes in action:

Loree Walker, Jackson County JFS & Northwoods

Glenn Osborne, Wilson County DSS and Northwoods

Shelly Selinger, Carver County HHS & Northwoods

Blog about Northwoods 20th anniversary in human services

How It’s Going: Sustaining the Workforce with Technology and Services

Fast forward to today and much remains the same. We still believe that we have to deeply understand and appreciate our customers' problems to create meaningful solutions. We’re still committed to helping agencies use our technology and services to solve their problems in new and innovative ways. We still believe that caseworkers should be represented in every decision. And like our customers, we’re still committed to making an impact in the communities where we live and work.

We currently have 234 customers throughout California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the US Virgin Islands. Those customers use our solutions across multiple program areas and serve a combined 72,664,000 residents.

Traverse is the future of the core of our company. We’re continuing to enhance the software with new modules, better functionality, more integrations and automation, and a continuous feedback loop with our customers. Our goal? Traverse will be the best solution for social workers bar none.

Case Aide Services is how we’re addressing the most significant cause contributing to the workforce crisis—staff burnout and turnover. When agencies have a team dedicated to organizing and prioritizing paperwork, workers can focus on peoplework and driving meaningful outcomes for families. Agencies that offer this additional support have higher morale and are more likely to keep and attract staff.

Some numbers to represent the impact of our technology and services:

Northwoods by the numbers 2023What our partners (and team!) say about the future:

Tammy Osborne-Smith, Jackson County JFS & Northwoods

John Kalamas, Jefferson County DSS & Northwoods

Bill Gray, Northwoods

Blog about Northwoods 20th anniversary in human services

Celebrating 20 Years in Human Services

It’s been humbling to reflect on the past 20 years of work and achievements. We’re excited for what the future holds and we’re grateful for everyone who has been part of our journey so far.

To all Northwoodians past and present, thank you for your hard work, dedication, and belief in the mission. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

To our customers, thank you for your continued partnership. We’re honored to work alongside you to develop new ways to provide better outcomes and opportunities for those you serve.

And to all human services heroes, thank you for your unwavering commitment to serving and supporting your communities. We're inspired every day by your passion to make a positive impact, and we look forward to helping you make an even larger impact in years to come.

To the next 20 years!

Blog about Northwoods 20th anniversary in human services

Hear from Northwoods leadership and staff reflecting on the past and looking forward to many more years of working with agencies across the country.

Blog about Northwoods 20th anniversary in human services

Hear from Joel Potts, former executive director of the Ohio Job and Family Service Directors’ Association (OJFSDA) and long-time Northwoods customer, about our ongoing partnership and what’s next for the state of Ohio, Northwoods, and the human services industry.

Blog about Northwoods 20th anniversary in human services

Lastly, hear from our team about Northwoods' mission and how our focus on supporting human services heroes has shaped our past, present, and future.

Blog about Northwoods 20th anniversary in human services

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