Welcome to the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council

The Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council) is one of a national network of state councils, committed to self-determination and community inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. Our mission is to create change that improves independence, productivity and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities and their families in community life in Ohio.

The Ohio DD Council is made up of over 30 members, with the majority being people with developmental disabilities, and parents and guardians of people with developmental disabilities who are appointment by the Governor of Ohio. The DD Council meets throughout the year to discuss disability-related issues and to identify grant projects that can improve supports and services for Ohioans with disabilities.

News and Announcements

Governor John Kasich Appoints New Chair to Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council

April 9, 2018: Governor John Kasich has appointed Joanna Spargo as the new chairperson to the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council (Ohio DD Council). Spargo, of North Canton, OH, begins her service to promote equal opportunities for the statewide disability community.

Joanna Spargo
Ohio DD Council Chair

picture of DD Council's new chairperson, Jo Spargo

The Malone University alumna started her work in the disability field right after college. As a social worker, she started helping people with developmental disabilities move into apartments in the local community. She built her career with REM Ohio, and now is the executive director of the State-wide provider agency that offers an array of services for people with disabilities, job seekers facing employment challenges, and individuals with other complex needs.

Leading a provider agency, Spargo wants to bring attention to the Direct Support Provider (DSP) crisis in Ohio. Understanding and bringing value to DSPs is one of the many things she would like to achieve while on the Council.

Adding to her many roles, Spargo is also a mother of two children, one who has disabilities. Becoming a parent opened up a new world for Spargo, which empowers her advocacy even more for parents of children with disabilities.

“It’s a whole different world and parents are navigating this alone,” she said. “This experience with my son brought to light many issues that parents go through, and how we can support them in various areas such as healthcare, education, and more.” 

Through her diverse roles and experience, she hopes to support Ohio DD Council’s great work, but also continue to enhance collaboration and outreach to areas that are in need of services. She wants to use this platform to make sure underserved and unserved communities are also heard and represented well.

“We want to tap into our Council’s resources and reach across Ohio to those underserved and unserved areas. What connections do our members, advocates, or families have and how can we work together to make sure everyone’s voice is heard?”

There is amazing energy in the Council, and we are going to continue collaborating to see how we can keep expanding our impact across the State,” added Spargo.

“We welcome Joanna with her extensive knowledge of the needs and abilities of those with disabilities,” said Carolyn Knight, executive director of Ohio DD Council. “Her professional experience as well as her strong advocacy for her children is invaluable as the Council continues to foster full community inclusion of those with developmental disabilities in Ohio.”

DD Council's Executive Committee meeting announcement

April 8, 2018: The Executive Committee of the Ohio DD Council will meet on Wednesday, March 11, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the Ohio DD Council's office. Click here for the agenda.

The Future is Now! Series Kicks Off in Hamilton County

April 2, 2018: Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services is pleased to present The Future is Now, a free multi-part series designed to help older caregivers and their family members make plans for the future. Throughout the series, families get help to create a letter of intent. A letter of intent is a non-legal document that captures family desires and goals for the future. Creating a letter of intent can help families gain peace of mind that comes with having a plan.

Each session offers an opportunity to learn about important topics to create the letter of intent, such as:

  • Naming hopes, dreams, and worries for the future;
  • Strengthening and expanding personal networks of friends and supporters;
  • Identifying the desired future living arrangements; and
  • Making the most of public benefits over the lifespan.

These sessions are designed for families that include a member with a disability whose caregiver is age 60 or older. All members of the family are encouraged to attend, including caregivers, the family member with a disability, siblings, and close family friends.


Sessions will be hosted by a family member and a person with a disability who have had training and experience planning for the future. Participation will be limited to ten families.

Breakout sessions, co-led by an advocacy team will be offered for the family members with a disability. Caregivers will have their own session. An expert speaker will present on specific topics during each session. Family members will have a chance to ask questions and interact with one another.


You have three options to choose from:

  • Option 1: Two Saturdays (April 14 and 21) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Starfire, 5030 Oaklawn Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45227
  • Option 2: Four Thursdays (June 7, 14, 21, and 28) from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Starfire, 5030 Oaklawn Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45227
  • Option 3: Two Saturdays (September 15 and 22) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Community Matters, 2104 St. Michael Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45204

To register, contact Dawn at 513-559-6814 or dawn.freudenberg@hamiltondds.org.

Download the event flyer here: The Future Is Now - Future Planning Sessions for Families with an Older Caregiver

This project is funded by a grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilites Council

Read more news and announcements

Next Council Meeting

May 3-4, 2018

Doubletree Hotel - Newark
50 N. 2nd Street
Newark, Ohio 43055

Also, the Clear Language Sub-Committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. on May 2, 2018 at the Doubletree Hotel restaurant.

Click here for the complete 2018 Meeting Schedule

Fix The List

Fix The List

The Ohio DD Council is part of a coalition of people with developmental disabilities, family members, and organizations representing guardians, county boards, and providers who are seeking a new approach to improve the way Ohio's HCBS waiver waiting list works.

Learn more about the "Fix The List" coalition

Featured Upcoming Event

Ohio's TechSummit

Hosted by: The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities and The Ohio State University Nisonger Center

When: June 15, 2018 from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Where: Renaissance Columbus Westerville-Polaris, 409 Altair Parkway, Westerville, OH 43082

Cost: The event is free for the general public and $50 for professionals.

Description: At the TechSummit, you will be able to:

  • Sample devices designed to support people with developmental disabilities.
  • Try out technology built to assist people who want more independence.
  • Hear from families about the apps they use most.
  • Learn about supports available for accessing technology at home or on the job.

For more information: 

Check out our Events Calendar for more conferences, workshops, recreation events, webinars and more!