Who We Are

Developmental Disabilities Association is a community living agency that provides over 50 community-based programs and services to children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families in Vancouver and Richmond. We create extended networks of support, invest in individual needs, and strive for an inclusive and safe community. Over 1,600 individuals and families in the Vancouver and Richmond area are serviced by the Developmental Disabilities Association every year.

uwlowmaincol-copyThe Developmental Disabilities Association gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the United Way of the Lower Mainland in helping fund  our some of our programs at DDA in Vancouver and Richmond.

Our Mission

To enable people with developmental disabilities to reach their full potential.

Our Values

To pursue our mission with expertise, integrity, respect, and conviction.

Our History

In 1952, 12 parents of children with developmental disabilities came together to work towards integrating their children into public schools. By the 1990’s, that parent group, called the Vancouver-Richmond Association for Mentally Handicapped People, had become Canada’s largest charitable society of its kind west of Toronto.

In 1998, recognizing changes in society, the wishes of its members, and its expanded role in the community, the Association changed its name; it is now the Developmental Disabilities Association. To read a comprehensive history of the Developmental Disabilities Association please click here.

Starworks Packaging and Assembly

Starworks is a social enterprise created to hire people with developmental disabilities from the Vancouver area to perform light labour and assembly work. We employ over 50 casual workers in our 5,000 square foot Vancouver warehouse with the capacity to handle all types of work that requires high volume manual labour. For more information, visit www.starworks.ca

What is a Developmental Disability?

Down syndrome, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Cerebral palsy are three of the most common examples of developmental disabilities. Although these are common, an innumerable variety of developmental disabilities exists. Developmental disabilities are generally used to describe life-long impairments that are attributable to mental and/or physical disabilities.

Developmental disabilities are given a variety of definitions depending where it’s used. Terms such as learning disability, cognitive disability, intellectual disability and mental handicap are all synonyms typically used for developmental disability.

Become a Member

You can influence the direction of the Association. Learn more about the benefits about becoming a DDA member

Donate to DDA

Help DDA fund services and programs by donating your clothing through our white clothing donation bins located in Greater Vancouver.

Connect with Us

Questions or Concerns? We’d love to hear from you. Visit our Contact Us page to find the appropriate person to speak to.

Board of Directors


EXECUTIVE To be re-elected for 1 year

John Neilson is the President of the Association and he chairs the Association’s Board of Directors while also sitting on the boards of The DDA Trust and the DDA Foundation. He has held responsible management positions in both the public and private sectors and for several years has been working almost exclusively in the not-for-profit sector where he consults with boards and managers on issues impacting their agencies’ sustainability. His involvement with DDA began more than 16 years ago when he was the CEO of the Community Social Services Employers’ Association.

Louise was first elected to the Board in 1995, and has been Vice-President since 1997. She has been a member of the Adult Services Committee, and has a particular interest in transition issues in areas of residential, vocational and leisure activities.

Sue has been a member of the Board since 1998. Activities include: participation in the Vancouver School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee, DDA’s Child & Family Services and Family Support Advisory Committees; Board member of the BC Association for Child Development and Intervention; and Resource Parent with the Family Support Institute. Sue’s daughter was born with a developmental disability and has graduated from DDA’s IDP, Toddler Group and Berwick Preschool; she attended her neighbourhood schools and now enjoys a DDA day program, Jobs West, and volunteering in the community. Sue’s interests include early childhood intervention, education, inclusion, youth and adult programs, and family support.

Allyson was first appointed to the Board in November 2004.  She is a partner in Clark Wilson LLP’s Business Law Department, practicing mainly in the areas of Construction and Infrastructure, and Strata Property law.

Rob is a CGA and is an Accountant/Business & Systems Analyst. He served DDA as Treasurer from 2000 – 2004, 2007 till the present.


Ronda became actively involved in the Community Living movement shortly after the birth of her son, James, many years ago. As both a parent of a child with a developmental disability, and as a Registered Nurse, Ronda recognized the need for strong advocates for people with developmental disabilities and their families. As a result, she has dedicated both her personal and professional life to working with and for families. She has been a Resource Parent for the Family Support Institute, as well as a parent representative to the Infant Development Program’s Provincial Steering Committee. Ronda has also represented people with developmental disabilities and their families on a community development committee of the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board. Ronda has been actively involved with the Developmental Disabilities Association for a number of years and served as President from 1999 to 2004.

DIRECTORS To be re-elected for 2 years

Bill was appointed to the DDA Board in April 2005. He is a retired senior executive, with more than 30 years of extensive and broad management experience in the forest industry. He has participated as a board member and/or chairman in the direction of various joint venture companies that included partnerships with major corporations, entrepreneurs and provincial governments. He enjoys his Hornby Island retreat, and is an active volunteer in that community.

Nancy has worked in the non-profit sector for nearly 18 years working primarily in mental health. She is currently the Executive Director for Langley Hospice Society, an organization dedicated to providing grief and bereavement support. Nancy brings a passionate and committed perspective to everything she does and especially enjoys working alongside her brother Ken on the DDA Board. Her volunteer experience also includes sitting on the Africa Water Bank and DDA Foundation Boards as well as participating in activities with the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

1 year remaining

Bonnie is a retired teacher in Vancouver. She was elected to the Board in 1987 and has served on the Children’s Services, Education, and Nomination Committees. She also served on the Board of BCACL for six years.   Bonnie is involved in the community in Girl Guides, and is a former resource parent for the Family Support Institute. She has 3 children and the youngest, Lisa, attended Berwick Preschool, graduated from an integrated secondary school, and has attended Capilano College, VCC and DSRF classes.

Rayanne was first elected to the Board in 2003. She is a foster parent of a child with multiple developmental disabilities. She has attended many courses and workshops relating to foster care and special needs, and is actively involved in the foster care community.   As well, Rayanne has been serving on DDA’s Child and Family Services Advisory Committee and Family Support Committee.