Director, Family Voices of North Dakota
Donene Feist serves as the Director for Family Voices of North Dakota Health Information and Education Center and as a consultant for various projects for Family Voices National. In this position she provides ongoing assistance to families of children with special health needs as they are raising their children with special needs. Additionally she provides technical assistance to professionals and policymakers bringing the family perspective to policy discussions and decisions. She also has past experience as an independent living advocate, assuring equality and an inclusive environment for all persons with disabilities through programs of empowerment, community education and systems change.
Donene brings a twenty-five year commitment to an inclusive society where all are valued, respected and have an equal opportunity, access and freedom to choose in all facets of life.
As a nurse she brings insight from the medical perspective in addition to the realities that families deal with each day. She has received several state and national awards:
• 1998 Family Voices Outstanding State Coordinator Award
• 2000 Five Outstanding Young North Dakotans Award, North Dakota State Jaycees
• 2007 Family Voices Make a Difference Every Day; ND Family Consortium
• 2007 Certificate of Appreciation from MCHB for enhancing the data collection and analysis capacity of the Family to Family Health Information Centers and Family Voices
• 2008 Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leaders Award
• 2008 Award of Excellence; EMSC Family Advisory Network
• 2008 Glenda Schepp Exceptional Dedication Award, Pathfinder Family Center
• 2009 Data in Action; Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative
• 2018 Merle McPherson, Family Leadership Award, Association of Maternal and Child Health
For the past decade she has been active at a state and national level promoting quality health care which is comprehensive, coordinated and community based for families of children and youth with special health needs. She also promotes the family/professional collaboration necessary for all to bring their expertise to the table. Donene is recognized and respected for her knowledge of challenges that families face. She is frequently called upon to bring this perspective to the table in our Nation’s ongoing efforts to provide and promote family-centered care and self determination for children and youth with special health care needs. She has gained the trust of staff from numerous agencies through her commitment to children and youth and her expertise in child health policy.
She credits her insight to her 3 children all of whom have a special health care need and her husband who provides great balance for the entire family. She serves on many state committees, but also serves on several national boards: Catalyst Center, FV policy committee, AAP Council of Community Pediatrics as a family liaison.