#ChangeMakers in the Disabilities Community: Katie Beth Massengill

Whether it is through her work at Berry Family Services or her volunteer efforts at My Possibilities, Katie Beth Massengill is an advocate for the community of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. After 30 years in her field, it is evident that the support and encouragement she gives these individuals and their families comes from a place of caring and a true desire to help. 

Katie Beth distinctly remembers when she was first introduced to the special needs community. Her college field of study was visual merchandising and fashion, and this initial interaction came while she was working at The Gap Inc.

“A sweet, young man with special needs received a job working in the stock room,” she said. “Sadly, he wasn’t properly trained. He had no job coach and no assistance from his case manager. He was immediately set up for failure.”

Katie Beth Massengill cooking with HIPsters at My Possibilities // photos by Kathy Tran
Katie Beth Massengill cooking with HIPsters at My Possibilities // photos by Kathy Tran

Frustrated with the situation, Katie Beth immediately stepped in to help him and mapped out a way for him to succeed. “I discovered that he couldn’t read, but he could comprehend colors and shapes. So, I developed a step-by-step process for him to maintain employment by using colors and shapes.”

It was several years later that Katie Beth would begin working for an organization helping to employ individuals with special needs. From that point on she knew this was the work she was meant to do. “I have a passion and love for anybody in need,” she said, “not just those with a disability. In [my] situation it just happens to be individuals with disabilities.”

Katie Beth moved to Texas from Seattle 20 years ago, and at the time she knew she wanted to continue her work as an advocate. However, not quite sure where that would be, she met the Berry family of Berry Family Services, a North Texas organization that connects adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to the services they need. Seeing the work this organization did for the special needs community, she knew she wanted to be a part of that mission.

In her current position as community services manager for Berry Family Services, Katie Beth manages the financial and community relationships between Berry Family Services’ clients and vendors, including Green Oaks School Adult Learning Center, Wylie ISD and Autism Speaks. My Possibilities, a local nonprofit that provides continuing education and vocational training to adults with IDD, is also a vendor.

According to My Possibilities Executive Director Michael Thomas, Katie Beth’s role at Berry Family Services allows her to work closely with My Possibilities, as well as many other organizations in the area. “She is an excellent community partner,” Michael said. “We feel fortunate that she is an advocate for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

In the past, Katie Beth has helped My Possibilities plan and organize events as well as obtain auction items through her various connections. She is often asked to share her experience working the IDD community and discuss options in the Dallas Fort Worth area. She continually educates the community on My Possibilities’ educational framework and the groundbreaking programming MP offers. 

At Berry Family Services Katie Beth also works with government entities, including Medicaid, Medicare and Texas Health and Human Services, to educate and advocate for these individuals. 

“Helping the IDD community has a lot to do with education,” Katie Beth said. “It’s informing parents, siblings, doctors and teachers about the changes to IDD community legislation. It’s telling them what they can apply for and what will apply to them. It’s up to me to really understand the legislation concerning the IDD community and translate this information for them.” 

According to Michael Thomas, Katie Beth is a true advocate for this community. “She constantly brainstorms various possibilities and opportunities for this population to grow and succeed. She has a philanthropic heart and it shows.”

My Possibilities > Berry Family Services >

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