Staff

Dana Katherine Birkes
Dana Katherine Birkes Executive Director
Kathy Birkes joined MSNT in March of 2016 after 10 years at Washington University in St. Louis and 16 years in Missouri state government, including serving as Director for the Missouri Department of Social Services. With a degree in accounting from Lincoln University, and graduate studies at both Michigan State and Harvard University, Kathy brings professional leadership skills and seasoned judgment to this important fiduciary role. Helping others find the answer to “What Will Happen When I’m Gone?”, Kathy presented in an international symposium on financial planning for special needs at the University of Hong Kong in 2017 and in the 5th World Congress on Adult Guardianship in Seoul, South Korea in 2018. This perspective has been included in the book, Special Needs Financial Planning – A Comparative Perspective published by Cambridge Press and is being translated into Japanese for publication.
Bianca Farr
Bianca Farr Associate Director
Bianca Farr, MSW, LCSW, joined MSNT as Associate Director in November of 2019. Graduating from the University of Missouri – Columbia with a BA in Psychology and Master’s in Social Work, Bianca devoted her career to enhancing the quality of life for people of all abilities. Her experience includes over 22 years in state government as a mental health professional working with individuals/families with disabilities as well as policy development for behavioral health programs. For the past seven years, she served as the Director of Employment Services for the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Behavioral Health. In this role she managed special projects that promoted the importance of supported employment and financial well-being of individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders.
Casie Stephens
Casie Stephens Trust Specialist III
Casie joined MSNT in September 2011, after working as a case manager with the Clay County Public Administrators office. As a Trust Specialist, Casie educates professionals, families, and individuals about special needs trust and ABLE Accounts. Casie works closely with Co-Trustees and guardians to help administer the trust. Casie graduated from William Jewell College with a BA in Psychology and received her certification as a Certified Work Incentives Practitioner from Cornell University.
Mary Lou Hughes
Mary Lou Hughes Trust Specialist III
Mary Lou joined Midwest Special Needs Trust in June 2012, after accomplishing more than twenty-eight years in the banking and financial industry in Nebraska, Georgia and Missouri. As Trust Specialist, Mary Lou consults with attorneys, agencies and individuals to assist them with financial and public benefits planning using a special needs trust. A former trust operations and retail bank manager, Mary Lou is a 2010 graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Colorado in Boulder, received her Certified Benefits Specialist certificate from the University of Missouri in 2013 and certificate in Marketing Strategy from Cornell University in 2019. She is also a member of the Mid-Missouri Estate Planning Council, Association of Trust Professionals and Columbia Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network.
Nathan McKee
Nathan McKee Trust Specialist II
Nathan joined Midwest Special Needs Trust in August 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. During his studies he worked with a diverse range of groups that included Mid-Missouri Legal Services and the University of Missouri-Law school Trust and Estates Clinic. As a Trust Specialist, Nathan works with attorneys, agencies and individuals to assist them with the trust application process, review benefits verification information and legal documents related to the special needs trust. Nathaniel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Nathan received his certification as a Certified Work Incentives Practitioner from Cornell University.
Heather Allen
Heather Allen Charitable Trust Specialist
Heather joined MSNT as the Charitable Trust Specialist in March of 2015. Heather received a Bachelor of Social Work from Harding University and worked for many years as a medical social worker, insurance case manager and marketing director before joining MSNT. In Heather’s previous careers she worked closely with client’s, families, physicians, insurance companies, and many different organizations to make sure the needs of her clients were met. This, as well as her knowledge of public benefits, makes her the perfect fit to work with those needing assistance through our charitable grant program. Heather is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and currently serves on their board as Secretary.
Jennifer Homer
Jennifer Homer Administrative Assistant
Jen joined our team in January 2014 as Administrative Assistant. She received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Texas Tech University and has a varied background as a legal assistant for 5 years, business owner/operator for 11 years and several years as a caregiver along the way. Of the “many hats” required in her position, Jen oversees financial matters such as accounts payable, payroll and banking. MSNT benefits from her strong ability to provide executive support, streamline processes, maximize efficiency and foster professional relationships. She finds her work at MSNT valuable because the administration of special needs trusts is the intersection of two of her great passions – personal finance and assisting people with disabilities.
Randy Williamson
Randy Williamson Operations Specialist
Randy joined Midwest Special Needs Trust in January 2020. A 2015 Columbia College graduate, Randy attained his degree in Business Administration and Marketing. He brings 5 years of experience in trust administration and trust operations in the banking industry as well as talents in marketing, public relations and community outreach. Randy is currently working on his certification for the CTFA (Certified Trust and Financial Advisor), which provides extended knowledge in taxes, financial planning, trusts and estates. In his role as Operations Specialist, Randy engages in ITA database administration, website oversight, financial advisor interactions and charitable promotional support.
Gabe Wilkerson
Gabe Wilkerson IT Director
Gabe is an IT professional with over two decades of successful experience in managing and supporting business IT needs. Gabe provides a collaborative approach to his position using IT technologies and strategies that improve efficiency and provide reliable access to critical data. A strong believer in the mission of Midwest Special Needs Trust, Gabe uses his personal relationships with persons with disabilities to bring a compassionate and dedicated attitude to his position.