A- A A+

KCDD's staff is dedicated to serving the intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) community through advocacy, leadership development and education. They work closely with Council Members and state agencies to make a difference in the lives of people with I/DD.

Please feel free to contact the staff members listed below:

Sara Weirnew
Executive Director
785.296.2609
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sara is a national nonprofit executive, disability policy expert and a proud Kansan. She is the former President & C.E.O. of the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), where during her tenure at NDSS, she led the passage of the landmark, bipartisan Stephen Beck Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014 (P.L.113-295). The legislation garnered the support of 85% of the entire US Congress in 2014 (381 of 435 US Representatives and 78 of 100 US Senators). Weir also supported a majority of the enactment of ABLE state laws, assisted with over 40 state ABLE plan launches as well as led advocacy campaigns on two important provisions in the 2017 Tax Reform Package including the ABLE to Work Act and the ABLE Financial Planning Act.

Weir's life has been about leading differently, serving others and delivering results with the leadership philosophy of "if you're not at the table, you are on the menu". Sara deploys an “in the trenches” leadership style by engaging directly with constituents - in local communities, in the classroom, on the job site or around kitchen tables. Weir’s passion for “giving a voice to the voiceless” was inspired by Kasey, her late best friend of twenty years from Kansas who had Down Syndrome. Sara quickly realized that the disability community did not have high-powered lobbyists, wealthy corporations or influential political action committees working for them - they relied on the strength of passionate voices outside the political spectrum who were willing to speak up for them. Weir went on to change that, and dedicated her career and service to allow everyone to have a fair shot at the “American Dream” by promoting solutions that give all Americans with disabilities access to a better life.

Weir established the first-ever national employment program for the Down Syndrome community, the #DSWORKS® Program, which partnered with companies, from Main Street to Wall Street, to create career opportunities for people with disabilities. Weir also co-founded The U.S. Future of Work For People with Disabilities Commission" - Tapping People with Disabilities who are Ready, Willing and ABLE to Work with fellow CEOs from Voya Financial and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and continues to be called upon by employers to help build successful employment and workforce development programs across the country.

Most recently, Weir served as a senior advisor to Missouri’s Department of Health & Senior Services on disability inclusion throughout its COVID-19 plan and response and co-chaired the state’s health equity committee. Weir was also the primary runner up for U.S. Congress in Kansas' Third Congressional district in 2020. Weir has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Political Leadership from Westminster College, a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College and and a certificate of completion from the Emerging Leaders Program of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Weir has been featured in USA Today, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, The Hill, Money Magazine, Al Jazeera and many others.

  

cassie headshot cropCallie Simmons
Policy & Program Analyst
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Callie Simmons serves as a Policy and Program Analyst for the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities. Before joining the Council in May, Calle was responsible for overseeing the disbursement and utilization of the American Rescue Plan Act dollars allocated to the State on behalf of the Office of Recovery. Prior to her work in the Office of Recovery, Callie focused on supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in many capacities, including service coordination with Aetna Better Health of Kansas, program coordination at TARC Industries, and targeted case management at TARC. As a program and policy analyst for the Council, Callie’s work is dedicated to ensuring that Kansans with disabilities will have increased protections from abuse, neglect and exploitation and increasing the utilization of Supported Decision Making. Throughout her varied roles, advocacy has always been the driving force behind Callie’s work and she looks forward to continuing these efforts to help ensure everyone can make choices impacting their participation in society and overall quality of life.

 

allyson mccain

Allyson serves as a Public Executive for KCDD. She has always been passionate about serving people with disabilities and was previously the Executive Director at GiGi's Playhouse Annapolis where she was proud to serve the Down syndrome community in the greater DC, Maryland, Virginia area. In the past, she has worked as an in-home caregiver to a young woman with Autism and volunteered as an art therapy instructor for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her goal is to help eliminate the barriers that people with different abilities face in pursuing their dreams and living a full life. She is especially concerned with health equality and representation in medical research for people living with a disability. She received her Bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Mississippi and her Masters Degree in Public Policy and Administration from American University in DC. Allyson is beyond grateful to be a part of the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities community and hopes to elevate the council’s mission of bringing equitable healthcare to all Kansans with disabilities.
 
 
 
newKathy Keck
Policy & Program Analyst
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Kathy has over 30 years’ experience in the field of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities both professionally and personally. Her passion led her to be a foster parent and adoptive mom with 5 children. Three of her children have complex medical and developmental needs.

Kathy has a Bachelor of Science from Emporia State in Rehabilitation Services Education. Her Masters Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Change Management from Friends University.

Kathy’s professional experience at the state level in various roles at SRS, KDADS and DCF equip her with an understanding of various systems that impact people with disabilities. This experience allows her a unique ability to navigate these systems and work toward systems improvements. She is a strong advocate at the local and state level. She has volunteered in a variety of roles including: the Chair of the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Family Advisory Committee as well as a Children’s Mercy Hospital on the Tracheostomy Parent and Family Advisory Committee (PFAC) and the Parents Offering Support (POPS) volunteer. She is always willing to help other special needs families on their journeys.

Kathy is thrilled with the opportunity to transition from the KCDD Chair to a staff member to continue making progress and improvements for individuals and families with I/DD. She has a track record for leading systems change and is passionate and driven to help the Council empowers others use their voices and life experiences to lead systems change to improve the life’s of individuals and families throughout the state.
 
 
newLola Kernell
Advocacy Coordinator
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

Lola Kernell is an Advocacy Coordinator for KCDD. Kernell is a senior at Bishop Miege High School, where she is involved in Theatre, French Club, National Honor Society, and Campus Ministry. She has been on the Honor Roll each semester, received awards for French, Theology, and the Eric Druten Memorial Junior Scholarship. She is an active lector and server at Curé of Ars Catholic Church, is currently working on her highest level award for American Heritage Girls.

Lola has worked for the Royals, the Chiefs and for Nautical Manufacturing and Fulfillment as part of her participation in Down Syndrome Innovations ACE program. Lola is a peacemaker, is friendly and outgoing, loves public speaking and being an advocate for others, and has great technical computer skills. She is living her dream by working at the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities.

 
Senior Administrative Assistant 
Vacant - Apply here
  
  
new
Rachel Hiles
Communications & Marketing Support 
 

Rachel Hiles is a 30-something aspiring local celebrity do-gooder in Kansas City. She is a proud alum of UMKC, where she obtained her B. A. in Spanish Literature and Language and later an MPA with an emphasis in nonprofit management. She worked in the disabilities field in a variety of roles for over 13 years. She launched her business, nth degree media & designs, in 2018 to gain flexibility in her role as caregiver to her grandma. Rachel also founded Sandwiched KC, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting family caregivers in the Kansas City metro. She completed her caregiving mission and now is dedicated to improving the lives of those who are caring for family members.

 

Charting the
LifeCourse
Framework

Develop a vision for a good life.
Think about what you need to know and do.
Identify how to find or develop supports.
Discover what it takes to live the life you want to live.

Get
Empowered

View Resources

Five Year State Plan
2022-2026

· Creating Leaders & Empowering Advocacy
· Leading Systems Change

 

Read State Plan

Back to top