! Staff – Midwest Special Needs Trust

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.
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.
Casie Stephens
Casie Stephens Trust Specialist III
Casie served as a case manager with the Clay County Public Administrator’s office for 5 years before bringing her knowledge of public benefits, Social Security, and services available to individuals with special needs to Midwest Special Needs Trust in September, 2011. Casie graduated William Jewell College in 2006 with a BA in Psychology. As Trust Specialist, Casie 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. Casie is a Certified Public Benefits Specialist.
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 is a Certified Public Benefits Specialist.
Sterling Odneal
Sterling Odneal Trust Specialist I
Sterling joined Midwest Special Needs Trust as a Trust Specialist in August 2018. Sterling graduated from the University of Central Missouri in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As an intern, a volunteer and an employee, Sterling combines his strong social work values with a strong work ethic. Sterling oversees the processing of enrollment fees, deposits for individual trust accounts, requests for distributions, and public benefit reviews for life beneficiaries.
Heather Allen
Heather Allen Charitable Trust Specialist
Heather brings leadership to the Charitable Grant program which provides assistance to impoverished Missourians with disabilities. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas and worked as a medical social worker in Arkansas and Missouri before joining Midwest Special Needs Trust in March, 2015.
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.