Frontline Initiative: Advocacy and Voting

NADSP Update


Joe Macbeth is President and CEO of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) in Albany, New York. Joseph can be reached at

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Joe Macbeth

Greetings from all of us at the NADSP. We are so pleased to share this issue of Frontline Initiative with all of you. It’s time for direct support professionals to advocate even louder and stronger than ever before. This spring, the NADSP will be hosting our third annual National Advocacy Symposium where direct support professionals and other advocates will have the opportunity to meet, virtually, with their elected members of Congress. We’ll be working with other national advocacy groups so direct support professionals can come together and rally around meaningful legislation that provides long-term solutions like professional recognition, living wages, and career pathways. We hope you enjoy this issue, learn from it, share it, and integrate some of the ideas into your daily practice.

There is a lot to share since the last issue of Frontline Initiative was released. First, we spent two days learning, sharing, and celebrating with more than 400 guests in Pittsburgh at our first in-person annual NADSP conference in four long years. In addition, we were also proud to recognize our long-time colleague, and former board chair, Lisa Burck, with our John F. Kennedy Jr. Award for Direct Support Advocacy and Leadership Award. Lisa is the Associate Director at The Arc Mississippi and was an instrumental figure in the creation of NADSP and many of our foundational contributions to the field. Lisa is also an active member of the editorial board and an author for Frontline Initiative. We also recognized our colleague Lynne Seagle, who recently retired as the executive director at Hope House Foundation in Norfolk, Virginia. Lynne was the recipient of our Hingsburger Humanitarian Award for four decades of tireless advocacy and promoting human rights. Our conferences are being recognized as one of the premiere learning and networking experiences for human services professionals and the foremost conference for direct support professionals. We hope that you’ll join us in the future.

During our recent board of directors meeting, we welcomed three new board members and said goodbye to three others. Joining our board are Robert Budd, who is the President and CEO at Family Resources and Essential Enterprises (FREE); Jennifer Lally, the Chief Financial Officer at The Arc Mid-Hudson, who will become NADSP’s treasurer; and Ashley Ritchey, the Family and Advocate Education Liaison with the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities. We are so pleased to welcome these three extraordinary professionals, who possess expertise to help guide NADSP’s strategic mission. We’d also like to thank our outgoing board members: Treasurer Joshua Smith from Vermont, John McHugh from New York, and Jesse Smathers from North Carolina. Each of these board members completed two full terms on our board and was instrumental in the launch of the E-Badge Academy.

Speaking of the E-Badge Academy, we are happy to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our digital credentialing program. The E-Badge Academy offers direct support professionals the ability to earn electronic badges to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and values on the job. Five years after launch, we have certified thousands of direct support professionals across the country who now can proudly display their accomplishments.

The NADSP works very hard to provide direct support professionals with a variety of resources and information to improve their practice standards, advocacy skills, and general awareness about the disability industry. We continue to overhaul our website to include resources related to every aspect of our work. This includes dozens of archived recordings of our webinars and our monthly “Let’s Talk” series with our Canadian colleagues. The “Let’s Talk” webinars are a rich resource – like Frontline Initiative - which uses a conversational method in a webinar format designed to start discussions based on the current issue of the International Journal for Direct Support Professionals.

We hope you find Frontline Initiative helpful, and we cannot overstate the importance of building strong advocacy skills among our direct support professionals. On that front, I have to share some very exciting news. We have hired Nicole Jorwic, as a Senior Policy Advisor to NADSP. I asked Nicole to share why she is passionate about DSPs getting involved in policy: “My experiences as a former direct support professional and a sibling of someone who relies on DSPs every day, are ones that I have carried with me during every conversation with lawmakers that I have had in my almost decade in Washington, DC. However, the most powerful voices in any room I have been in are the workers themselves, the lived experiences and challenges of DSPs should be heard in the halls of Congress and in every state house. That is why I am so excited to join NADSP in the role as senior policy advisor to support DSPs direct engagement in policy change!

Joe Macbeth

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