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This article was expertly penned by Amy Van Bergen, who, among a slew of distinguished credentials and accolades, will be presenting at the 2019 DSAIA Leadership Conference, Feb. 28-Mar. 3, in St. Louis, on the topic of diversity on boards and in the workplace.

1. The FRIEND who can keep his or her mouth shut

This is that guy or gal whom you can reach out to day or night with a facebook message, text or email and they will immediately respond. You need to vent about what’s driving you crazy about your upcoming event? You need someone to talk you off the ledge? Your recent committee brainstorming sesh leave you feeling down or not sure what to try next? Want to just get someone else’s take on another group’s PR campaign? I promise you that you will meet your new best friend at DSAIA this year.

2. The PROGRAM EXPERT you want to become when you grow up

Has your board made a teen/adult transition program a top priority this year? Or maybe you are updating your prenatal or medical outreach efforts? Then you will attend at least one workshop on the topic, be armed with a detailed plan and resources to kickstart your new program and you will probably be struck with how you can add some secret sauce into ALL of your programs for some pizazz, consistency and efficiency.

3. The DONOR who is going to make all the difference to your educational outreach or employment program in 2019

Where else can you go to meet in person with Down syndrome-specific grantors like Global Down Syndrome Foundation, an organization that has granted about $500,000 to DS support organizations since 2012? DSAIA is the place to go to hear directly from both former recipients as well as the decision-makers.

4. The NONPROFIT GURU who can help you wade through the gaps in your organization’s infrastructure (whether it’s board issues, budgeting questions, or impact-evaluation concerns)

I am one of the first people to say that I am not crazy about auditing financials, creating a new development plan, digging into the bylaws or the other necessary pieces of nonprofit know-how…I’d much rather hold a brand-new baby with Down syndrome. But alas, if you want to keep reaching those new parents, we ALL need to better understand our policies and procedures and DSAIA is where you will find plenty of these experts who can help you and your organization.

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