about us

Down syndrome (DS) also known as Trisomy 21, occurs when an individual has a 3rdcopy of chromosome 21.  One in every 700 babies in the U.S. is born with DS, making it the most common chromosomal condition.  In 1983, the average life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome was a mere 25 years old.  Today, it is 60.

 

Started by a group of mothers in 2006, DSGO is an organization made up of a committed group of parents, professionals and other interested parties dedicated to creating an extensive network of support for individuals with Down syndrome and those who love and serve them in Southwest Missouri.  Our Board of Directors has six committed family members and area business leaders shaping the future.  We have one employee, an Executive Director.


It is our goal to become the leading resource of Down syndrome information for new and expectant parents, students, healthcare professionals, educators and all Southwest Missouri citizens.  We also are striving to bring awareness to early intervention services, promote inclusive education, highlight appropriate medical services, encourage quality employment opportunities, and advocate for community awareness and acceptance.


Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks exists to bring life and wellness to families who are advocating towards a community of inclusion for individuals with Down syndrome. 

scott kirby - executive director

Scott joined the DSGO family in August of 2019.  He is passionate about developing resources, programs and events that positively impact people; leading them to live life to the fullest.  Scott received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Evangel University in 1998.  He brings 20 years of experience in the creative consulting industry, and over a decade of non-profit executive leadership experience to assist in advocating for our DSGO families.


Phone:  417-885-9905

Email:  scott@dsgo.life

chloe pierson

SPRINGFIELD PROGRAMMING & Upside down mercantile

Chloe joined DSGO in September of 2022.  She is extremely gifted, creative, and has a heart for the Down syndrome community.  She recently graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Child and Family Development - Child Life.  She is excited to be a part of our team and is looking forward to using her skills to assist our families!  


Phone:  417-885-9905

Email:  chloe@dsgo.life

Sarah Vacca

joplin programming

Sarah Vacca, a dedicated advocate for individuals with disabilities, holds a degree in Special Education from Missouri Southern State University and a Bachelor's in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Deaf Ministry from Ozark Christian College. Inspired by her older sister with Down syndrome, Sarah has volunteered and worked extensively with both children and adults with disabilities. She is passionate about recognizing individuals with Down syndrome as valuable members of society, working towards a more inclusive and compassionate world.


Phone:  417-885-9905

Email:  sarah@dsgo.life

2023 board of directors


  • j.c. loveland > President

    J.C. graduated from Parkview High School and went on to obtain degrees from College of the Ozarks and William Woods University.  His background includes the Parks & Recreation field, followed by the banking industry where he is currently the Assistant Vice President, Concierge Banking Lender for Encore Bank.  J.C.'s cousin had Neurofibromatosis and J.C. wants to use his experience from that relationship to give back to families with special needs.

  • jen welton > VICE president

    Jen is Owner of Boundless Creative and Immersed Marketing. She comes to DSGO with 25+ years of nonprofit experience. Jen was introduced to DSGO through her older brother, Trent, who has Down syndrome. Her goal as Past President of the Board is to research and develop the opportunity for medical treatment in Springfield for our families.

  • dakota Campbell - treasurer

    Dakota grew up in Springfield and joined DSGO in early 2024. After spending a few years in Northwest Arkansas, Dakota returned to Springfield in 2020 with Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Management and Investments from the University of Arkansas to work in business banking and to be closer to his family. Dakota enjoys various hobbies and plans to employ his skills and knowledge to help DSGO and all the people impacted by the organization.”

  • mindy Hesterly - secretary

    Mindy has been involved with DSGO from the beginning.  She has been influential in all of the various stages of growth, including coming back onto the board in 2023 to serve as Secretary. 

  • kevin w. baker > PAST President

    Kevin and his wife Leisha are the owners of Club Z! In-Home Tutoring.  Kevin has served on the DSGO board for several years.  Kevin has also served as Vice Chairman of the Board at the Nixa Area Chamber of Commerce and is a Charter Member of the Christian County Lions Club.  Kevin enjoys spending time outdoors with his chocolate lab Bailey!

  • bo barks

    Bo holds a BS in Hospitality and Business Management from Missouri State University. He is currently working as the Field Marketing Manager for BriteCore. Bo's wife's disability led him to gain personal experience through the lack of support services, and he has since been devoted to advocating for increased acceptance, awareness, and support for individuals with disabilities. When he is not working at Artistree Pottery, his family-owned business, Bo spends time with his three children, two golden retrievers, and his lovely wife, Rachel.

  • mary blair

    Mary is a financial advisor with an Edward Jones office in Nixa, Mo. She joined the DSGO board in 2021 as a way to connect with the community and advocate for families of aging individuals with Down syndrome. Her older brother Brian Graham has Down syndrome and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2021. Mary, her husband Mark and their two children live in the Nixa community.

  • Amy bullard

    Amy has been a Special Education teacher for Springfield Public Schools for 15 years and is currently teaching in the Business Associated Student Education (BASE) program. Prior to teaching, Amy was a Recreation Therapist and ran the Accessible Recreation Program for adults with disabilities with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. She is excited to help support the families we serve. In her free time, Amy enjoys spending time with her husband, Mark, and three children, Kyler, Jayda, and Bryce.

  • BRENT COCHRAN

    Brent has served on the DSGO board for several years including the role of Treasurer.  He has a son Alex, with Down syndrome.  Together they operate Al's Pals Pet Place based out of Springfield.

  • JON DAVIS

    Jon has served on the DSGO board since 2023.  He is a school resource officer and loves spending time with his wife along with their two boys and daughter.

  • kyle kent

    Kyle is an attorney at his own law firm, Show MO Justice, LLC where he fights for people who have been injured through the carelessness of others. Kyle became a board member in 2023 and brings the same passion and advocacy from his law practice to the DSGO family. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys spending time with his wife, Darya, and their son and daughter.

  • GabRIELLE "GABE" martin

    Gabe holds a Master of Arts degree in Integrated Marketing Communication from Drury University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Tulsa.  Recently honored as one of Biz 417's '10 for the Next 10,' she also enjoys volunteering for Springfield Catholic Schools where her two daughters, Alivia and Colette, attend elementary school.  

  • JAMES REED

    James has served as a banker with various roles in the Springfield community for over 30 years.  He currently acts as VIP and Business Services Relationship Manager for Great Southern Bank where he enjoys building and expanding relationships with his clients.  James has a son Toby with Down syndrome.

  • melissa rives

    Melissa started her career in Recreational Therapy, but went back to school to be a teacher. She taught Junior High Math at Carthage for 11 years, and loved being an educator. After her first son Nolan was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome, she stepped back from her education career to prioritize his early education. Two years later she was blessed with another rambunctious boy, Nicholas. Melissa now helps run the family businesses with her husband Erik in the Oronogo area. As a family they enjoy playing outside and working on their farm. 

  • Ben ward

    Ben joined the DSGO board in 2023.  He has a background in the communications community and has been instrumental in helping us to connect with area news outlets for events, announcements, and other important coverage.