Frontline Initiative Professionalism

Alliance Seeks New Co-Chairs

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) met in August 1998 in Washington, DC prior to the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation Next Generation Leadership Symposium. By holding our meeting in conjunction with the Leadership Symposium a number of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and other interested individuals were able to attend the meeting.

Since the inception of the NADSP, the Alliance has been cochaired by Seth Krakauer, DSP, Amy Hewitt, workforce development professional, and James Meadours, self-advocate. At the August National Alliance meeting it was formally announced that Seth Krakauer and Amy Hewitt would be stepping down from their co-chair positions, Seth to spend more time with his recently born son and Amy to spend time with her new born son. Both Seth and Amy have been energetic and creative leaders, shaping and guiding the Alliance to its current state. The growing recognition of the NADSP and its commitment to addressing direct support workforce development issues at the local, state and national level indicates the successful tenures of these co-chairs. We thank Seth and Amy for their contributions to the Alliance. It should be noted that they will continue to be involved as committee members and Frontline Initiative editors. We would also like to thank James Meadours for his work and continuing contribution as he remains in his position as cochair of the NADSP. We recognize this opportunity to draw in new leadership and maintain a body that will continue to grow in its efforts and contributions.

Though the agenda for this Alliance meeting seemed unrealistically full, the energy from Alliance members and new attendees showed how much can be accomplished in two days. The four major tasks addressed at the National Alliance meeting included — 1) identifying a process for selecting new co-chairs and further defining the leadership structure of the Alliance, 2) taking initial steps toward the development of the Direct Support Professional Code of Ethics, 3) approving a final drafts of National Alliance informational documents and principles of national credentialing, and 4) defining the roles of state contact persons/coordinators.

At the next Alliance meeting a newly appointed ad hoc nominating committee will provide the names of candidates being considered for the co-chair positions. Those attending the meeting will then approve the slate or make recommendations as necessary. The nominating committee will be responsible for identifying qualified, interested candidates through communication with affiliates and organizations of the coalition. The National Alliance remains committed to a leadership body that represents self-advocates, DSPs and workforce development professionals. Marianne Taylor, workforce development professional, and Mark Olson, DSP, will serve as interim co-chairs until we have implemented our new leadership structure process.

Alliance members and meeting attendees spent some time identifying the skills, qualities and characteristics needed to provide quality direct support to individuals with disabilities. The qualities identified will be used as a starting point for the establishment of a code of ethics. We are excited to have the professional expertise of Christine Reid from Community Rehabilitation Agencies of Tennessee in developing these ethical statements in conjunction with the active participation of DSPs.

Finally, in order to facilitate the process of recruiting state coordinators of the NADSP and supporting the efforts of these representatives and state-wide and local activities, the Alliance will develop a toolkit of information and strategies to assist them as they serve in this new role. This toolkit will provide information to assist state representatives in identifying initial goals and activities in their states, soliciting support for their activities, marketing the Frontline Initiative and the goals of the Alliance, and increasing involvement of DSPs in local activities.

A list of state coordinators will soon be published. The state coordinator will serve as a contact for any individuals interested in the NADSP within their state. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, if you are interested in the activities of the NADSP and would like to work toward its goals at the state level, please contact an Alliance Co-Chair or state coordinator.