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DD Council Member Spotlight: Mark Smith

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Mark Smith lives in Bettendorf, Iowa, with his wife Vinnie, who is a third-grade teacher. Mark has two sons, Peter (31) and Patrick (26).

“I am honored to join the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and hope to contribute to its important mission. Several interests and experiences have drawn me to this advocacy group. First and foremost, I am a parent of a young man with autism, named Peter. My journey as a parent has presented many difficult challenges familiar to so many other Iowa families. Nevertheless, my son’s story is also one of many joys and successes. For example, Peter works at a local technology firm, contributing to their business’ success and helping them create an inclusive culture. It is a wonderful place to work and he loves this job, which is evident when he wants to celebrate his work anniversary as much as his birthday. In addition, Peter is also an artist. His one-of-a-kind style has stimulated many conversations with the public about autism-related topics and his unique abilities. I think my experiences as a parent have been my greatest motivation to become a community advocate.  

“My second life experience that has stimulated my interest in joining the DD Council is having founded, with my wife Vinnie and other parents, a nonprofit called Hand in Hand. Twenty years ago, our Quad City community had few program options for individuals with disabilities and their families. With the help of other eager families and volunteers, we offered a one-week adapted day camp for 40 children in 2000. From that modest beginning, Hand in Hand grew to offer year-round respite services for 800 participants and family members in 2020. I retired this spring after 20 years as CEO of Hand in Hand, but my passion for this work continues. I hope my experiences navigating the world of community programs and state regulations as well as being a service provider will be useful to the DD Council team and its vital work.”