Our DSP this week is Joey. She has been with Living Well for close to three decades and is a total rock star! Joey started when she was just three weeks out of high school, back when we were known as Dakota’s Children, and over the years has filled many positions with the company. Personal advocate, senior advocate, committee member, direct support professional … she has shown up for Living Well in many ways.

Throughout her career, Joey spent hours at many of our homes, including the now closed Marie Ave. and Victoria Road. Joey recalls, “I’ve watched the company change names twice and move through four buildings. Sadly, I’ve also had the experience of losing so many individuals over the years, as age and disease work their way through us all. These days I’m usually working with Customized or back at Kennelly, my forever home. Working for Living Well is more than just a job to me, it’s become family.”

With her family.

She was able to attend a variety of training opportunities during her years with us, including many ARRM conferences, one where she would meet her husband who worked for another company. In 2006, while beginning her own family she became an occasional staff, allowing her time with family as well as her work family. A busy working mom, Joey has a heart of gold and advocacy in her soul.

Program Manager, Aaron Oden, who has known Joey since she started, says, “Joey has more energy than anyone. She puts caffeine to shame.” He thinks Joey is a great worker who is incredible with the people she supports. He adds, “She has been here over 20 years, and if she sees things that need correction, she dives in and fixes stuff to help and make life easier for everyone.”

At Inver Hills Community College last year.

Kathy Anderson, Volunteer Program Manager, says, “Joey and I have worked together for many, many years now in a variety of locations and services. No matter what we are doing Joey brings contagious enthusiasm and creativity to make things fun and impactful. I so appreciate Joey’s initiative and leadership—her contributions to Living Well and the people we support are priceless.”

Thank you to everyone who chooses to make a career out of caring. Congrats, Joey, you are incredible! Thank you for all your work, we appreciate you.



Name: Joey Pederson

Number of years/months with Living Well: 27

Hobbies/Interests: I like birding, photography, camping and canoeing, reading, traveling, and going to concerts.

Education: Florida Academy of Massage and Body Works, Massage Therapy.

Job Experience/History: Direct Support Professional, Massage Therapist, Wedding/Real Estate/Portrait Photographer. In my younger days I worked at Blockbuster, a job I miss more and more the older I get!

Favorite part of the job: Assisting people to find their own voices to be happy and healthy in their lives. Matching people’s interests with fun activities around town.

Favorite or craziest work story: I have far too many! Wilderness Inquiry Trips: I’ve assisted people with canoeing the Green River in Utah (54 miles/6 days!); dog sledding in Northern Minnesota; Camping/canoeing the Crow Wing River (Mary from 3801 has a photo I took that is still used in Wisconsin catalogs/website and every time I see it, I smile). Vacation to Chicago with AO and Kennelly, one for the record books! Also assisting with and photographing Patsy and Mike’s wedding (3801). Helping with the old DCI Sports Day and weekly soccer/kickball games! So many fun and unique experiences I wouldn’t get at any other job.

What is your motivation for coming to work: Advocacy. I feel like I get to help make a difference in people’s lives.

What made you apply:  Three weeks after graduating high school, in 1996, I wanted a job that couldn’t be replaced by a computer. I definitely found one!

What makes you stay:  Thinking outside the box for the people I support. Especially those who are aging, with whom I get to act as a bridge between their younger life and their current one.

What would you tell people interested in joining the team: Helping people live their lives with dignity is one of the greatest gifts of trust you will ever receive, use it wisely.

When not at work what do you like to do for fun:  Travel with my family, especially discovering amazing small towns. Attend my kids chess, soccer, track, cross country and indoor Go Kart events! Go to concerts, museums, and theatre events at many of our amazing venues in the Twin Cities.

Do you volunteer in your community or school: I volunteered for 10 years at my kid’s elementary/middle schools helping with PTO events, photography and yearbook. Now that they are in high school, it’s mostly helping with their sporting events. I’ve been a lifelong volunteer that started with the opening of the MN History Center when I was in high school, where I was fortunate to volunteer in many of their early children and community programs, which enabled me to meet a photography hero of mine, Gordon Parks!




Want to nominate a DSP? Please email jessica.maurer@livingwell.org to nominate a Living Well DSP. Special thanks to Miles and Cheri Cohen for their support of DSP of Week. Want to join them in underwriting our DSP Shoutout Program? Please contact Devan Heinsen for sponsorship opportunities.