The Thanksgiving holiday tends to be a time for reflection, connection, and especially appreciation. It’s no different for all of us here at The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), and we certainly have a lot in our world that makes us extremely thankful.

We are thankful for Direct Support Professionals across the country, who are dedicated to making a world of difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The demands placed on this vital workforce are overwhelming, yet they continue to carry on in their important work demonstrating professionalism, competence, and an unwavering commitment to quality.

We are thankful for human service organizations throughout the nation, that are dedicated to elevating the status of Direct Support Professionals so that people receiving supports are empowered to live a life of their choosing. Organizations confront so many challenges in funding, staffing, regulatory changes, and more, yet they remain focused on providing person-centered services through creative and effective approaches.

We are thankful for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the United States, who despite decades of systemic discrimination and significant oppression, serve as a stellar example of the power of self-advocacy. As they have faced societal barriers to improving their personal quality of life, they have successfully endured to effect change in everything from their daily lives, to the broader impact of national legislation.

We are thankful for the organizations and employees who have engaged with NADSP through various outreach activities and initiatives throughout the year:


  • 15,700+ signers of the Standard Occupational Classification Petition
  • 365 attendees of the 2018 NADSP Annual Meeting & Conference
  • 13 Sponsors/Exhibitors of the 2018 NADSP Annual Meeting & Conference
  • 7 John F. Kennedy Jr. 2018 Award Winners
  • 4 Moving Mountains 2018 Award Winners
  • 18 conferences featuring keynote presentations by Joe Macbeth
  • 10,000+ participants in NADSP Training events
  • 100’s participants in NADSP-hosted webinars
We asked members of our staff to reflect on their gratitude for the season. Here are their responses:

Executive Director Joe Macbeth: It’s been a pretty amazing year for the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and there is much for which to be thankful. On a professional level, I’d start my thanks for being given the opportunity to work with  an incredibly talented team of professionals; in March we hired Desiree Loucks Baer as our Assistant Executive Director, in May we added Nicole Dama as our Office and Communications Manager and in July we brought in Dan Hermreck as the Director of Certification and Accreditation. It takes time to build a strong team, but with my long-time colleague, John Raffaele, this NADSP team is laser-focused on our mission and fearless when pushing our vision in new and exciting ways. I’m thankful for the opportunity to partner with dozens of organizations that, despite significant financial challenges, remain committed to advancing the knowledge, skills and values of their direct support workforce. These organizations are continually looking for ways to improve the quality of their services in supporting people with disabilities by advancing the work of direct support. These organizations just “get it” and we are proud to work with them. Lastly, I’m thankful for the direct support professionals who quietly do their jobs, often in unspectacular fashion, and support people with disabilities to live safe, productive and dignified lives in the communities of their choice. Lastly, I’m just thankful to play a small part in this national movement to create the next true profession. Happy Thanksgiving.

Assistant Executive Director, Desiree Loucks Baer: I’m thankful for the all the people who share their lives to support others, because we’re all in this together.

Director of Education, John Raffaele: A recent health scare made me aware that this human life is precious, fragile and short.  I am grateful for an improved medical condition.  I am grateful for my children who teach me about what is important.  And, I am so grateful to have the most incredible career and job in the world.  Simon Sinek says, “Work is expending effort on things we don’t want to do. Passion is expending energy on things we love to do. The goal is to do no work.”  Seldom, do I work.  Happy Thanksgiving. 

Director of Certification and Accreditation, Dan Hermerck: I am thankful for the opportunity to work with provider organizations all over the country who have made the decision to invest in direct support professionals. I am thankful for the chance to review the work that DSPs and frontline supervisors submit when they apply for NADSP certification.  People are doing amazing work all over the country, despite the many challenges involved. On a personal note, I am thankful for the many important people in my life, and the relationships we have formed over the years.

Office and Communications Manager, Nicole Dama: Thanksgiving falls on my six month anniversary with NADSP and that really resonates with me because I am so thankful for this organization. I am so grateful for the work of the DSPs who work tirelessly to support others. If no one has told you today, THANK YOU!  Grateful for our team and my loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

Finally, we are thankful for those who support the mission, vision, values, and guiding principles of NADSP. Without this backing, our important work would not be possible. As we approach the end of 2018, we’re specifically appreciative for the numerous organizations that show their support through NADSP Membership. To the thousands upon thousands of employees working at these organizations throughout roughly 30 states across the country, we appreciate your involvement in our national network.

As we look ahead to our 2019 NADSP Membership drive, we are excited to see the strengthening of relationships with our current partners, as well as the establishment of new ones through our national network. These connections are of critical importance to all of us here at NADSP, and for that, we are truly thankful.



NADSP Membership

By joining NADSP, you will have direct and exclusive access to information, resources, tools, and training to improve the knowledge and skill set of the DSP workforce, and the quality of life for people receiving services. This national movement will also work together to help educate policymakers and legislators about the importance of high quality human services.