After 44 years leading the Kistler Center, Jennifer Kistler transitioned in 2022 from her role as executive director to one in which she utilized her skills as a registered nurse in the Community Employment Supports (CES) Waiver program. In this role, she provided education and assistance to Kistler Center staff and families while monitoring medication management plans and procedures for those served in the program.

Since retiring from the Kistler Center completely in 2023, Jennifer spends time with her dog, horse, and family. She likes teaching about the Bible and helping others in her ministry. And, even now, Jennifer enjoys being a positive influence to families who continue to reach out for guidance by relating to their difficulties, needs, and the numerous challenges faced as they navigate toward the best paths and opportunities for their own success.

Gregory’s sister and Michelle’s mother, Jennifer decided to become a registered nurse after Michelle was born with spina bifida, adding to the need for specialized care in her family.

Jennifer is a long-time advocate for people with disabilities and has served a wide range of disability and nonprofit groups. She has been recognized for her leadership at the local and state levels, including the Healthcare Community Leadership Award, Firekeeper Award and Arkansas Volunteer Coordinators Association Boss of the Year.
Jennifer was in the third grade when her younger brother and best buddy, Gregory, was hit by a car after school. She experienced first-hand how her family’s life was changed by Gregory’s accident. Then, after Michelle’s birth, Jennifer and her parents started an outpatient therapy center to serve the children of the Fort Smith area.
When The Gregory Kistler Treatment Center began in 1978, six children were being treated each week. Now, thousands of children have come through the doors for physical, occupational, or speech-language therapy.

During Jennifer’s leadership, occupational and speech-language therapy was added to the physical therapy services initially offered, and in 1995, a successful capital campaign for a specialized 12,000-square-foot facility was conducted. The Kistler Center was certified in 2011 as a CES waiver provider. And, in 2012, the Center was certified as a provider for Autism Waiver. Now, the Kistler Center serves children and adults. Both the CES Waiver and Autism Waiver programs are a natural continuation of Kistler Center services.