New Campaign Spotlights Critical Shortage of Direct Support Professionals in Missouri and Their Importance to Those With Disabilities

ST. LOUISMay 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A new awareness campaign has launched across the state of Missouri to spotlight direct support professionals, known as DSPs, and the vital role they play in the lives of those living with disabilities.

Faced with critical shortages of workers and direct support professionals, service providers from across the state have come together for the campaign to spotlight how important and beneficial direct support professionals are to the community.

Sponsored by the Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services (MACDDS) and MARF — representing hundreds of service providers across the state — the campaign aims to educate the public on the importance of these dedicated workers and to showcase job openings.

Along with highlighting the workers’ stories, the campaign includes an interactive website where Missourians can review career opportunities and see if the profession is a good fit for them.

“DSP careers are available right now throughout Missouri. It is not just a job. It is a rewarding experience that helps people realize their full potential,” said Erika Leonard, Executive Director, MARF. “DSPs help people become integrated and engaged in their community, to be valued for who they are and encouraged to follow their dreams”

Direct support professionals enable people in Missouri with intellectual or physical disabilities to live full, independent lives, helping help them integrate fully with society and thrive in all areas from employment opportunities to daily activities like grocery shopping or preparing meals at home.

“People will find that being a DSP is a rewarding opportunity to serve others and build a career in a great field. People with disabilities want to live full, independent lives just like everyone else. It’s vital that we have quality, consistent Direct Support Professionals to help people to live and work in their communities,” said Nancy Pennington, Executive Director/CEO, MACDDS.

Being a DSP can be the first step towards a long-term career with flexible hours, no degree requirement and training provided on the job.

To learn more about the campaign and to see career opportunities across Missouri, visit

For over 40 years, MACDDS has promoted local county initiatives in developmental disabilities services. Comprised of 62 county boards, 18 related provider organizations and 2 targeted case management entities, our members lead local initiatives that have a statewide impact, improving the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. MACDDS works to assure services and supports for people with developmental disabilities continue to be planned and carried out at the local level.

About MARF
MARF works to improve the lives of Missourians with disabilities by driving public policy and strengthening member organizations through advocacy, education and collaboration.

Jason Marks
(415) 915-8855


Introducing the new MACDDS Executive Director Nancy Pennington


The Missouri Association of County Developmental Disabilities Services (MACDDS) is pleased to announce the appointment of Nancy Pennington to be the Association’s next Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer beginning June 1, 2021.

Nancy Pennington has worked with the Adair County SB40 Developmental Disability Board in Kirksville, Missouri, for eleven years. She became the Executive Director in January of 2017 after previously serving as the Assistant Director and Business Manager for the organization. Nancy has over twenty-five years working with various non-profits. Prior to coming to the Adair County SB40, she was the Executive Director for the United Way of Adair County/Northeast Missouri for six years, and has also worked with several organizations in the nonprofit field. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Truman State University, earned her certificate in Certified Public Accounting, and is a graduate of the National Leadership Institute on Developmental Disabilities.

In addition to her experience, Nancy brings many strengths to this new role including her ability to cultivate teamwork and a positive culture, her knowledge of and experience with MACDDS operations as well as her sincere dedication to individuals with I/DD, MACDDS and our mission.

Honoring our Outgoing President

Robyn Kaufman, MACDDS President Elect presented Becky with a plaque.

Robyn Kaufman, MACDDS President Elect presented Becky with a plaque and had the following words of appreciation:

Becky started as President Elect in April 2019, when Kyle had to step up early to serve as President and then she started her term as President in November 2019 when Kyle left.

MACDDS was very fortunate to have Becky at the helm through the challenges and transitions we have faced in 2020.

In the second year of our new governance structure, Becky grew a culture within MACDDS of transparency and trust through her open communication and active listening that has been key to the success of this new structure. 

While working out the process of the governance structure, 2020 also brought challenges to each of us in the way of budget cuts, the DSP workforce crisis and most of all the pandemic. 

Becky’s calm, kind and supportive leadership through this year was just what we all needed to make it through this crisis – she helped us remember that, “This too shall pass”.  Becky also was timely in sharing information and resources we needed to ensure business and service continuity.

In addition to challenges, we have faced transitions including the transition of continuing operations without an Executive Director, staff or an office.  Becky’s hard work, organizational skills and action plan focus were invaluable during this time.

Under her leadership and collaborative nature, our partnerships and relationships continued to strengthen with DMH, MARF and other stakeholders.

I have truly enjoyed learning from and working closely with Becky as President Elect since late 2019.  While she has done so much as President—I know she will continue to have a positive impact on MACDDS through service on the board and participation in the MARF strategic alliance initiative.  Thanks Becky for your leadership and dedication!

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for New All Inclusive Playground in Sweet Springs


A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Saturday July 18, 2020 for a new All Inclusive Playground in Sweet Springs, MO. The Saline County Board of Services for the Developmentally Disabled provided funding for the playground. The playground was developed in partnership with the city of Sweet Springs and Sweet Springs Parks and Recreation board and a small committee of family members. The playground was designed and built by All Inclusive Play.