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Chris Sparks

Chris Sparks has been working in the field of disability services for over 35 years – beginning his career as a Direct Support Professional. As Executive Director of Exceptional Persons, Inc. (EPI) he focuses on the EPI mission to connect people to their communities, create opportunities, and nurture growth of critical life skills. At EPI we place fundamental importance upon the values of self-direction, community membership, meaningful choice, quality, customer satisfaction, collaboration and stewardship. Chris earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa and later a Master’s degree in Public Administration - with an emphasis in non-profit management - from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2009 Chris completed a Master’s Degree in Social Work (Clinical emphasis) from the University of Northern Iowa, became a licensed social worker, and I am doing clinical work part-time with individuals and couples at our local mental health center. Additionally, Chris is a certified facilitator of Franklin Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature Workshop.

Blog posts by this Author:

  • Care as Infrastructure

    My first foray into the field of community-based services was when my wife and I got a job in a group home for six people with intellectual disabilities. It was January of 1983, and it was also a crash course in the service system – as it was then – and really into a new and different culture. All those years ago workforce and staffing were among our most primary challenges. We often worked six days a week because we could not find the additional staff we needed. In the ensuing 38 years services have changed dramatically, but our workforce challenges have remained.

  • Forgotten Faces

    As a society we need to be critically invested in making sure organizations like EPI stay healthy for the people they support. We must continue to share their stories and tell our lawmakers they can no longer overlook people with disabilities and the critical services they rely upon.

  • The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion

    We must stand against hate and intolerance and violence. We cannot be silent. We want to do more to eliminate racism and discrimination in our culture and to help assure all are safe, welcomed and accepted into community.

  • Essential Workers

    I have been following The Courier's COVID-19 coverage and want to share the story of invisible but essential workers who are providing care and support for our neighbors with disabilities during this crisis.

  • Transportation Services Transitioning At EPI

    Since 1961 Exceptional Persons, Inc. (EPI) has had the privilege of transporting children and adults with disabilities to school, work, and other community activities.

  • Exceptional Persons, Inc. and One Vision Developing Partnership

    Exceptional Persons, Inc. (EPI) to explore developing partnership with long-term collaborator, One Vision, head quartered in Clear Lake.

  • EPI Partnering with Hawkeye Community College to Open Child Care Center

    Hawkeye Community College and Exceptional Persons, Inc. are partnering to create an innovative solution to the critical need for child care in Black Hawk County.

  • We Have to Use Every Creative Idea We Have

    Direct Support Professionals do the real work in organizations that provide community services. They help people acquire needed skills to live successfully, get jobs, develop social networks, and explore interests that turn into activities that lead to true participation and inclusion. DSPs are often the cultural guides that help people with IDD navigate their communities and find their places in them.

  • ALERT - Act Now to Stop Irreparable Medicaid Cuts!

    Things are heating up in Washington around Medicaid once again. Your help is needed. The next few days are critical. Please read and take action (it will take just a few minutes of your time but could make a big difference for the people we serve).

  • ACT NOW! This Bill is Unacceptable!

    On Thursday, March 23, the House of Representatives is going to vote on the Affordable Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), which would repeal the Affordable Care Act and include historic changes to Medicaid. We need you to tell Congress NOW that THIS BILL IS UNACCEPTABLE because as written, it could harm people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities by reducing how much Medicaid funding they receive.

  • Celebrating 60 Years

    Reaching a new milestone - our 60th anniversary - causes us to pause and reflect on the experiences and people we've had the good fortune to meet along with way.

  • The Evolution of Disability Service

    As a field we are in the midst of massive and continuous change, each item challenging individually but truly overwhelming when taken as a whole. It is important to note that not all of these are bad, in fact some of them are both welcome and exciting, but they still represent significant challenges that make our professional lives stressful.

  • DSPs of the Year

    Because of my previous work experience, and the impact of DSPs that I see here at EPI every day, I have a deep respect and appreciation for those who choose to work as DSPs.

  • Share Your Experience

    Share your experience with Medicaid Privatization by attending the Cedar Falls Medicaid Listening Post and by taking the online survey.

  • Proposed DOL Overtime Exemption Rule is Simply Solving the Wrong Problem

    Proposed DOL Overtime Exemption Rule is Simply Solving the Wrong Problem Creating new issues in its wake This regulation, threatens to be the straw that breaks the camel's back for many providers like EPI who are already seriously challenged by a myriad of federal, state, and local unfunded mandates.

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