In 2015, Down Syndrome of Louisville was looking for a challenge and they found it. After 12 months of planning, reviewing, organizing and developing the 130 outcomes spanning the DSAIA’s Accreditation Checklist, Down Syndrome of Louisville completed and received is Gold Accreditation.
Lisa Holmes, Director of Programming and Operations at Down Syndrome of Louisville, explained that the organization created its strategic plan in 2015 to challenge itself. “We wanted to achieve DSAIA Accreditation and our other goal was to create world-class programming,” she said. “The Gold Accreditation was a stepping stone to achieve that goal.”
The biggest challenge, Holmes joked, was getting over the shock of the six-page accreditation check list. “It was a little intimidating,” she said. It was worth it, though. Said Holmes: “It’s been one of the best and most defining things I’ve done in my adult professional career.”
For the more than 35-year-old organization that serves upwards of 500 members in northern Kentucky, the process to meet DSAIA’s rigorous accreditation standards was extremely intentional.
Holmes explained that the process wasn’t done just to meet the accreditation goals. “We really looked at all our documentation and asked ourselves is this what we actually do and is it meaningful,” said Holmes. “We wanted to make sure everything was accurate. That took a lot of time.”
Holmes made sure to spend time each week dedicated to the accreditation project to keep it moving. Though, in reflection, she admits she should have created a committee to share the work. Her advice to other DSAs embarking on accreditation: “Create a committee to work on it to help get the work done quickly. Farm out different aspects of the checklist to different specialists – for example, the finance committee could complete the financial pieces.”
Now that Down Syndrome of Louisville has reached the Gold Accreditation mark, Holmes expects the achievement will give the organization a leg up in fundraising. “I think folks will feel better about writing a check to us for a donation. And the rigor of the whole process will give us an advantage in grant writing.” Furthermore, the accreditation will garner media exposure that will help increase our outreach to members and awareness of Down syndrome in the community.
If you are a fan of horse racing or basketball, you know that by nature Kentuckians are competitive. And Down Syndrome of Louisville is no exception. “When I got the information about accreditation, of course I said, ‘We’re going for the gold,’” said Holmes. She encourages any affiliate to work on accreditation in order to highlight their achievements and what they are doing for their community. “Whether it’s a storefront or a basement card table, there is great programming going on throughout the country,” Holmes said. “And if you’re doing the very best you can, you are successful.” DSAIA Accreditation proves that you are doing your best.
For more information about Down Syndrome of Louisville’s road to accreditation, you can contact Lisa Holmes at 502-495-5088 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about DSAIA’s Accreditation Program, including the Accreditation checklist, can be found online at www.dsaia.org/Accreditation-Program.