MSNT Board of Trustees Selects Kathy Birkes New Executive Director

May 27, 2016

Release Date – 06/01/2016
COLUMBIA, Mo. The MSNT Board of Trustees announces the selection of Dana Katherine (Kathy) Birkes as its new Executive Director effective immediately.

Ms. Birkes has experience in a broad range of public service spanning over 30 years. Most recently she served at Washington University in St. Louis for over 10 years. Prior to that, she served 16 years in Missouri state government, culminating as Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services. Ms. Birkes’ other positions in Social Services included federal controller, director of the Division of Budget and Finance, and chief operating officer for Caring Communities. She served as auditor, strategic planner and telecommunications assistant manager with the Missouri Public Service Commission. Ms. Birkes has also provided consultant services to the Center for the Study on Social Policy, the Danforth and Kauffman Foundations, and the Missouri Alliance for Children and Families.

Ms. Birkes earned her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Lincoln University, attended the Regulatory Studies Program at the Graduate School of Business Administration at Michigan State University, and the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Ms. Birkes has defined her leadership in social service and human service delivery by maximizing financial resources for the most efficient and effective program delivery. “I am excited for this opportunity to take a growing organization devoted to the financial planning for individuals with disabilities through trust planning and other benefit program counseling, and work to make it even more accessible and effective,” said Ms. Birkes. “I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees made up of individuals with family members with disabilities and mental illness – people who really know the challenges to address and the opportunities to seize. Additionally, the Board includes members with strong business acumen, legal experience and financial expertise – just the right mix to thoroughly oversee this significant fiduciary responsibility.”

Board Trustee Jerry Zafft, who led the original initiative to create the Missouri Family Trust, now known as the Midwest Special Needs Trust, by Missouri statute adopted in 1989, said “The Midwest Special Needs Trust has come a long way since the first trust account was opened in 1991 for the benefit of my son, with an initial deposit of $1,000. As a result of the outstanding leadership by prior Executive Directors, the Trust has opened over 2000 individual trust accounts aggregating over $40,000,000 in assets. We are confident that Kathy Birkes will continue growing the Trust and enable us to serve even more families.”

Ms. Birkes took the reins from Lynn Carter, Executive Director since 2010. Board President Tish Thomas said, “Lynn Carter has been an effective leader and has built a dedicated team to manage the work of the Trust. She has done an excellent job of setting the stage and setting a solid foundation for new leadership under Kathy Birkes”.

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