Jennifer Kistler is executive director of The Gregory Kistler Treatment Center, Gregory’s sister and Michelle’s mother. She 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 serves 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 clinic 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, more than 4,000 children have come through the doors for physical, occupational, or speech therapy. Jennifer has seen that each child and family is treated with care and given the quality treatment she would want for her own loved one.
Under Jennifer’s leadership, the Kistler Center was certified in 2011 as a Community Employment Support (CES) Waiver provider. And, in 2012, the Center was certified as a provider for Autism Waiver. Both the CES Waiver and Autism Waiver programs are a natural continuation of Kistler Center services.
Even after the passing of her brother and the sudden loss of her precious daughter, Jennifer is as committed as ever. She is at the Kistler Center working every day. Jennifer continues to be a positive influence, often personally guiding families by relating to their difficulties, needs, and the numerous challenges faced as they navigate toward the best paths and opportunities for their own success.