Frontline Initiative: DSPs Using the NADSP Code of Ethics

Editors' Notes


Julie Kramme & Chet Tschetter are the editors of FI, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota

Julia Thomalla is the guest editor of FI, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota

Direct support professionals (DSPs) make many decisions every day. Many of these are pretty significant in the lives of the people you support. We know that sometimes it's hard to make decisions when you’re doing something you’ve never done before, or if you’re facing a dilemma. What guidelines can you draw from? What are best practices? How do you weigh options to make a decision you will be proud of?

In this issue of Frontline Initiative, we highlight the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) Code of Ethics as a tool for your toolbox. Many DSPs tell stories of making ethical decisions in their everyday practice. In this issue, John Raffaele, the NADSP director of educational services, describes the code of ethics and then describes each of the code’s nine tenets in a series of videos that were produced in partnership between the Institute on Community Integration and the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. Following this are stories from direct support professionals, other professionals, family members, and self-advocates. Each story reflects at least one tenet of the code of ethics, but many stories touch on content from several tenets.

We hope this issue of Frontline Initiative provides you with thought-provoking content. We hope it challenges you to reflect on your professional practice, and helps you make decisions you’re proud of in your daily work.

Podcast art for A Closer Look.

A Closer Look Podcast

We bring you a new resource: an ongoing podcast for direct support professionals and frontline supervisors. A Closer Look is Frontline Initiative’s new podcast, where Chet Tschetter, co-editor of Frontline Initiative, talks with authors from the latest issue of the magazine about their experiences and best practices for supporting people. A Closer Look is available on Spotify, Apple podcasts, and many places where you access podcast content. Please follow A Closer Look to receive alerts when new podcasts become available.

The podcasts shown here are from authors who shared in our last issue of Frontline Initiative: DSPs Supporting People’s Health and Wellness. There are two podcasts produced with authors from that issue.

Episode 1: Host Chet Tschetter talks with LeAnn Bieber about healthcare person-centered profiles

LeAnn Bieber, person-centered planner and mom, talks about how tools such as a Health Care Person-Centered Profile and a one-page description can make medical appointments better for everyone.

Episode 2: Zoe Korengold from Lionsgate Academy in Shoreview, Minnesota on supporting students' psychological health and wellness

Educational assistant Zoe Korengold reflects on how they handle situations with students who are experiencing big emotions that are challenging, in a way that is supportive and safe for everyone. Zoe’s article shares their perspective as an autistic person who didn’t have an Individual Education Plan in school to support them, and how starting with a student’s strengths can make a huge difference in how students with intellectual disability view themselves.

Woman smiling, looking straight at the camera. She has shoulder-length pink hair. She is wearing a dark sweatshirt with the Notre Dame wordmark in large yellow letters and a yellow turtleneck shirt under the sweatshirt.

Julia Thomalla, guest editor

Thanks to Julia Thomalla, Our Guest Editor!

Finally, we want to thank the guest editor of our current issue, Julia Thomalla. We are grateful for her help and insights as this issue came together. Julia was a summer 2023 communications intern at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota Twin Cities. When Julia is not working at ICI, she is a student at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where she studies political science and gender studies and is the secretary of her campus LGBTQ+ organization. She plans to incorporate the person-centered perspective found in the NADSP Code of Ethics into her coursework in the fall when she studies disability in higher education.

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Frontline Initiative • Volume 19, Number 2 • 2023

Editors: Julie Kramme and Chet Tschetter

Guest editor: Julia Thomalla

Marketing and communications: Jerry Smith

Graphic design: Connie Burkhart

Web developers: Shawn Lawler, Jonathon Walz, and Kristin Dean

Institute on Community Integration Director: Amy Hewitt

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Editorial board

  • Tony Anderson, executive director, Valley Mountain Regional Center
  • Wesley Anderson, director of employment & community services, National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services
  • Lisa Burck, associate director, The Arc of Mississippi
  • Nicole Dama, office and communications manager, NADSP
  • Rachel Jacob, E-Badge reviewer, NADSP
  • Chris Lawrence, direct support professional, Job Path NYC
  • Mary Lawson, executive director, PAKS Developmental Services
  • Colleen McLaughlin, associate director, The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities & Rutgers' Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Department of Pediatrics
  • Diane Potts, associate professor of human services, Tulsa Community College
  • John Raffaele, editorial board chair, Director of Educational Services, NADSP
  • Robert Schier, owner, Camp DRIVE
  • Eryn Starck, executive assistant, Oregon Resource Association


If you are interested in contributing to Frontline Initiative, please contact:

Julie Kramme or Chet Tschetter, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, email:

View past issues of Frontline Initiative here:

Frontline Initiative is supported through a cooperative agreement between the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education (#90RTCP0003) and the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL) at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), University of Minnesota, and the University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (#90DDUC0070). This issue is also supported through a cooperative agreement between the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (#03-8818-22), and the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the RTC-CL, ICI, University of Minnesota, NADSP, or their funding sources.

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