Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan hires executive director

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Katie Hollis. Courtesy Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan

An association that provides resources and advocacy for the Down syndrome community has a new top leader.

The Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan (DSAWM) said it hired Katie Hollis as its new executive director, effective Thursday, Feb. 23. She succeeds Jennifer DeVault, who left to become director of library operations for Kent District Library in November.

Hollis has held a variety of roles in various industries, from biotech development to academia, and she has over 15 years of experience in research. Most recently, she was a graduate research fellow at Van Andel Institute and currently serves as an adjunct faculty instructor at Grand Valley State University. Hollis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry and a Master of Science degree in biology from Purdue University Northwest, as well as an M.S. in cellulary and molecular biology from Van Andel Institute Graduate School.

She is the mother of two children, with her oldest adopted from the foster care system and her youngest having Down syndrome. Her family joined DSAWM after the birth of her son to connect with the local Down syndrome network.

Hollis said her family situation allows her to understand firsthand what resources like DSAWM provide to families in West Michigan.

“As a parent member myself, I am honored to lead the DSAWM,” she said. “The association is poised to build on the tremendous momentum it has had over the past few years, and I look forward to bringing the association to the next level, expanding our reach and making a positive difference for those living with Down syndrome across Michigan.”

In her role as executive director, Hollis is responsible for the overall administration and management of the organization, including service programs, fundraising, and business operations for DSAWM and its sister organization, the DSAWM Foundation. Areas of responsibility include planning and evaluation, policy development and administration, personnel and fiscal management, and public relations.

Her first major project will be the celebration of World Down Syndrome Day, recognized annually on March 21. On this day, individuals with Down syndrome and advocates across the world raise awareness and advocate for the rights, inclusion and well-being of those with Down syndrome.

Founded in 1985, DSAWM provides services and programming through all stages of life to over 300 individuals with the condition and their families across 12 West Michigan counties. More information is at dsawm.org.

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