Nonprofit hires executive director

Nonprofit hires executive director

Jennifer Richards DeVault. Courtesy Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan

An organization in the region that provides resources and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome and their families has named its new executive director.

The Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan, or DSAWM, hired Jennifer Richards DeVault for the role, effective July 10.

Richards DeVault said she's “happy and excited” to work with the Grand Rapids-based nonprofit that promotes awareness of Down syndrome.

“I couldn’t be happier to be a part of such a meaningful organization and work with a great group of people,” she said.

Richards DeVault oversees the day-to-day operations of DSAWM, an association of 307 members.

Her duties include administration and management, including fundraising and service programs for DSAWM and the DSAWM Foundation. She works on fund development, planning, evaluation and documentation, policy development and administration, personnel and fiscal management and public relations.

She is accountable to the board of directors through its president, Tom Hackett.

Richards DeVault’s background

Richards DeVault served for 20 years as vice president, director and program director of the Barry Community Foundation in Hastings.

She also led the Youth Advisory Council in Hastings and served Green Gables Haven, a domestic violence shelter in Hastings, as board president, a board member and fundraising director.

She earned a B.A. in journalism, communications and marketing from Western Michigan University.


Six couples who had children with Down syndrome launched DSAWM in 1985. Their aim was to provide support and share knowledge with other families.

The association has since broadened its goals to include advocacy, awareness and the distribution of information relevant to Down syndrome.

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