Countdown to The Fourth One










NADSP Annual Conference:  The Fourth One


Make your plans now to celebrate DSP Recognition week!

September 7 & 8, 2018
St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

1820 Market St.,St Louis, Missouri, 63103

Join NADSP in St. Louis, Missouri  on September 7 and 8, 2018 to ring in DSP week.  You will have an opportunity to learn about best practices, share stories, network and gain insight on building direct support excellence.

We will also be awarding of The John F Kennedy, Jr Award for Direct Support Advocacy & Leadership at our Cocktail Hour reception.

Conference Agenda:

Friday September 7, 2018 – DAY 1

10:00 AM                  Registration Opens

12:00 PM – 1:15 PM                    Welcome, Opening Remarks, A Special Presentation by Jerry Smith

1:15 PM – 2:25 PM                     Keynote One- Karyn Harvey, – DSPs and Informed Trauma Support


2:30 PM – 3:15 PM                   Breakout Series One

Direct Support Professional Track – Session 1:  Bouncing Back from Burnout – Rachel Jacob, The Arc Ulster Greene

  • Learn about specific things you can do as a DSP to protect yourself from caregiver stress and burn out.

Management Track – Session 1:The NADSP E-Badge Academy – Dan Hermreck, NADSP

  • This session will explore the highlights of the new NADSP Electronic Badge Academy.

The Direct Support Practice Track – Session 1: The DSP as Healthcare and Medical Escort Liaison – Dr. Rick Rader, Orange Grove Center

  • The role of direct support professionals in the context of assisting people with medical and dental appointments cannot be underestimated.  The DSP must sometimes work to translate, inform, calm, negotiate and even advocate with and for the people with whom they are supporting.  Dr. Rader will offer practical and important insights and ideas about the role of the DSP in medical/dental settings.

3:30 PM – 3:45 PM  BREAK

3:45 PM – 5:00 PM                   Keynote Two – Ronnie Polanezcky

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM                     JFK Jr. Awards and Cocktail Hour Reception

6:00 PM                  Dinner on your own

Saturday September 8, 2018 – DAY 2

8:00 AM – 8:45 AM                     Registration/Continental Breakfast

8:45 AM – 9:00 AM                    Welcome and Introductions

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM                   Keynote Three – David Pitonyak

10:30 AM – 11:15 AM                 Breakout Series Two

Direct Support Professional Track – Session 2Falling Off the Cliff –  Ronnie Polanezcky, Judy Dotzman and Nick Smith, DSP, SPIN Inc.

  • Ronnie Polaneczky’s deeply reported four-part series in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily  News, “Falling Off the Cliff,” offered readers an informative and emphatic look into the world of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the aging families who love them. In this presentation, she and one of her interviewees, Philadelphia DSP Nicholas Smith, will discuss what the DSP industry must do to attract and retain highly skilled, emphatic workers to care not just for those with ID/D but for all who will require one-on-one professional support in their lives. Through presentation and audience participation, attendees will develop a renewed appreciation for those who care for the country’s most vulnerable population as well as a greater understanding of the personal and professional needs of America’s DSP workforce.

Management Track – Session 2: Nuts and Bolts for Health Care with DSPs – Heather Hermans, Vita Community Living Services

  • The Nuts and Bolts of Health Care for Direct Support. We are going to discuss the process of co-creating tools together with health care providers, researchers, and DSPs.

The Direct Support Practice Track – Session 2 The Language of Our WorkThe Language of Our Work, Melody Johnson, The Arc of Monroe

  • This session will educate attendees on the evolving language of our work.  As the field advances , we need to be sure our words best represent the people we support.  Historically, the language of our work has served to categorize others, and in the process has often represented people we support in an undignified way.  As we transform our work as Direct Support Professionals from caregiving to supporting people, we need to do our best to ensure our language is in line with our actions

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM               Plenary Session with Dr. Amy Hewitt

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM                 Plated Lunch

1:30 PM – 2:15 PM                    Breakout Series Three

Direct Support Professional Track – Session 3Person Centered Thinking and the NADSP Competencies – Michael Steinbruck, The Learning Community for Person Centered Practices

Michael Steinbruck, Executive Director of the Learning Community for Person Centered Thinking, will share the important aspects of being person centered as a direct support professional.  He will connect the NADSP and CMS Core Direct Support competencies to the daily practice of direct support and the vitality that comes with being person centered.

Management Track – Session 3The NADSP Frontline Supervisor Train the Trainer Curriculum – John Raffaele, NADSP

  • Learn about the NADSP Frontline Supervisor Train the Trainer Curriculum. Come see highlights of NADSP’s latest effort.

The Direct Support Practice Track – Session 3– Supporting People with Dual Diagnosis – Jeanne Farr, NADD

  • A high percentage of people with developmental disabilities also have mental health disabilities. Dual diagnosis is important to understand and this session with explore the DSP role.

2:30 PM – 3:15  PM                   Guided Group Discussions – Caitlin Bailey, National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware

 There will be three sessions of facilitated discussions that will focus on what Direct Support Professionals need, experience and expect from their practice. Data will be collected and submitted for research purposes.

3:15 PM – 4:00 PM                     Closing Keynote – Peter Leidy – Touching the Heart of Our Work


 About the Keynote Presentations:

Ronnie Polaneczky

Ronnie Polaneczky, a columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, listens to others for a living, and then shares their stories with the city she loves.     In this keynote, she will tell the story behind the reporting of “Falling Off the Cliff,” her four-part series, published last December, that introduced readers to the world of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to the aging families who love them. Why do these stories so often go untold and unheard? And what can DSPs do to tell their own stories in ways that inform, uplift and inspire support from those outside the world of disability  – whose advocacy is critical to the health and vibrancy of the DSP field?


David Pitonyak

Toolbox for Change: Staying Present and Mindful When Things Fall Apart

Sometimes it’s tough to stay clear about what matters. When things fall apart, when chaos breaks out, it’s tough to stay grounded and remind ourselves what really matters, what really counts. This presentation lists some ideas for jumping head first into chaos while maintaining focus (and a sense of humor).


Karyn Harvey

Trauma-informed care with individuals with intellectual disabilities

This session will review the sources of trauma for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), the effects of that trauma and the ways in which staff and programs can assist individuals in trauma recovery. To begin with we will look at the many causes of trauma for people with IDD. Next we will explore the biological, psychological and psychiatric effects in detail. The actual symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and the ways in which these symptoms are manifested in people with IDD will be explored.

Next, we will discuss the healing process. The key ingredients for initial recovery from trauma will be presented. The actions and approaches that are most effective on the level of the direct support professional will be outlined. Finally, happiness and the pursuit of happiness will be discussed and the happiness assessment tool will be introduced. Participants will be able to identify causes of trauma in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities,participants will be able to recognize the key symptoms of post- traumatic stress disorder and participants will be able identify the key ingredients to happiness.

Amy Hewitt

DSP Advocacy: YOUR voice and ideas are key!

Legislative and policy advocacy for the direct support workforce has primarily been led by providers. DSPs are brought along in their messaging but often are not the ones creating the messages. Effective advocacy on these issues will not happen until the nearly 5 million direct support workers in the US (one of the largest professions in this country) lead their own advocacy. This session will support DSPs to develop their own story and challenge them to share their story with their elected officials right there and then. New strategies, new messages and DSP-directed advocacy efforts are essential to getting changes in wages, access to affordable benefits, professional development opportunities and increased status and recognition. Turnover, vacancy rates and the quality of the workforce will not improve without your voice and this session will help you understand and develop key policy advocacy strategies.

Peter Leidy

Touching the Heart of Our Work

Think of a time when you felt “YES! I love my job!” or “Today was a great day at work!”  Chances are, these emotions did not come from filling out forms. While paperwork, regulations, and layers of bureaucracy may have necessary places in our work, let’s admit it:  This is not why most of us do what we do. The heart of the work is relationships.  The heart of the work is helping people live a good life that has meaning – a life of connection and belonging. The heart of the work is sharing your gifts, receiving the gifts others bring to the relationship, and discovering creative ways for the person’s gifts to be shared with the wider community.

Participants will identify what the “heart” means in their work, on their team, and in their workplace, and learn new ways to support connections  Participants will also identify how this influences job satisfaction and a deeper engagement in their important role as supporter and ally.

Learn more about Peter’s work here:

Conference Registration Options:

Early bird, NADSP member, full conference registration $189

Early bird, NADSP non-member, full conference registration $209

NADSP member, full conference registration $219

NADSP non-member, full conference registration $249

Early bird sales end July 31, 2018

To register for the conference:  ALL CONFERENCE SALES ARE NOW CLOSED.

FOR QUESTIONS AND CONFERENCE INQUIRES: Call Nicole at 518-795-3505 or email her at


The Fourth One will be held at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, 1820 Market St.,St Louis, Missouri, 63103..  There is a designated conference rate for single and double rooms starting at $129 per night.  You must book your rooms by phoning 1-314-231-1234 and let them know that you are part of the NADSP (National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals) Conference, please book early as rooms will sell out!  The last day for the conference rate is August 6th but rooms sold out prior to that date last year.

Ground Transportation:

Ground Transportation will be provided by Go Best Express at a discounted rate. To make your reservation with the Airport Shuttle, click here. 

Conference Attire:

Feel free to dress in casual conference or business casual attire but we highly recommend layers. It is very difficult to control the temperature in large conference spaces – very often too hot or too cold.  Don’t hesitate, bring that extra sweater.

Conference Technology and WI-FI:

Bring extra batteries for phones and laptops as there are limited charging areas.  We are unable to have cords strung across walkways as they pose a tripping hazard. In an effort to provide the best conference experience for all attendees, cell phones should be set to silent during presentations.

Conference Social Media:

When tagging the conference on social media, use #NADSP2018

Conference Exhibitors & Sponsors:


Sponsorship and Exhibitor information  available here.


Please contact Nicole Dama at 518-795-3505 or