To enrich the quality of life for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities by fostering individual growth, creativity, and community involvement through innovative strategies and artistic expression.


A world where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live healthier and enriched lives, and are nurtured by caring and supportive communities that minimize and eliminate barriers.

Core Beliefs

Everyone deserves compassion, encouragement and respect

Treating people with dignity fosters individual growth and self-advocacy

A healthy and safe environment is critical to well being, social interaction and life long learning

Everyone has a responsibility to contribute to society and be a part of their community

Inclusion, diversity and exchange are keys to the growth of society

Everyone has the right to artistic expression

Developmental Disabilities Service Organization (DDSO) produces programs that champion the creativity and potential within the hearts and minds of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

From two sites in Sacramento and one site in Stockton, DDSO is an award-winning nonprofit that annually provides 400 adults with disabilities the opportunity to experience independence, job training, employment, physical Lion-Glass-Mosaiceducation, visual and performing arts, life skill building, social interaction, active participation in the community, nurturing relationships and more.

Developmental disabilities are a diverse group of severe chronic conditions that are due to mental and/or physical impairments. They include cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, epilepsy and intellectual disabilities. There may be challenges with major life activities such as language, mobility, learning, self-help, and independent living. Developmental disabilities begin anytime during development up to 22 years of age, and last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Today, there is more opportunity than ever to honor and recognize the contributions and independence of people with disabilities. They have diverse ideas and choices to make about where they want to go, how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to interact. DDSO’s programs strive daily to help individuals achieve their dreams of being gainfully employed doing meaningful work, living in a home where they can make their own life choices, contributing to society through volunteering, and impacting the world through visual and performing arts.


 DDSO focuses on the possibilities of what an individual with developmental disabilities can do when given the necessary support. We fight cruelty, isolation and neglect by providing safe and stimulating environments that build confidence, skills and social connection. Four primary strategies of support are used to help participants reach their goals throughout eight programs and four special projects.

Visual & Performing Arts

Painting, music, dance, theatre, literature, poetry, gallery exhibitions and digital media are used as vehicles to help participants create, develop and express themselves.  

Daily Living Skills

A patient, caring atmosphere is provided to participants, many with severe and profound developmental disabilities, so they can best develop basic personal and communication skills. Adult Development Centers offer programs and classes about personal finance, household skills, decision making, computer science, language, and self-care. 


Paid employment training opportunities and classroom instruction are offered to participants who learn valuable job skills, including how to interview, maintain employment, contribute meaningfully, and communicate with supervisors and peers. Clients referred by the federal employment outreach program, Ticket to Work, are also served.


Inclusion in the community is a strategy widely used throughout all programs at DDSO. Volunteer projects, visits to museums, restaurants, concerts, sporting events, bowling alleys, theaters, and nature centers are some of the opportunities available for people to engage with one another, regardless of ability. 


With the generous support of community members and funders, the Developmental Disabilities Service Organization is proud to deliver the following results this year:

Years of Service
Volunteer Hours
Clients Served
Artworks Created

Our Team

Yvonne Soto

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Yvonne began her connection with DDSO when she came to Stockton to complete a six-month Music Therapy Internship at the Alan Short Center (ASC) in Stockton. After a brief stint at Deputy Director for DDSO, Yvonne assumed the role of CEO in 2007.

Jennifer Bonacorso

Jennifer has worked at DDSO since 2005 managing the day to day operations of the company. Before moving into the Operations position Jennifer had the fortunate experience to work in the field with DDSO’s clients as a staff member for the Community Integration Program.

Trish Williams

Trish was born and raised in San Francisco, CA but left the city for better weather in Sacramento valley. Trish then joined the DDSO team as a Bookkeeper in 2001. Trish loves pets, especially Loki, the dog that came to her door looking for a new home earlier this year!

Sheila Abrams wearing a flowered blouse and smiling

Sheila Abrams

Originally from Kansas, Sheila attended college in California and is a Certified Medical Assistant and American Sign Language interpreter. Sheila believes the most important rights clients have is the right to live their lives in the manner they wish to, and strives to achieve an environment of mutual respect, growth,

Margarita Garcia

Magi started working with DDSO in 1996 as a Secretary through a temp agency. Magi loves being at ASC for many reasons; but especially because clients motivate her to find ways to serve them better.

Dennis Curry

Dennis began working in this field back in 1976. He previously worked at DDSO at Short Center, Alan Short Center and Administrative Office. He thinks outside of “The Box” by offering non-traditional employment training opportunities in such areas as Video and Audio Production.

John Berger

John started working with DDSO in November of 2000 when he was recruited as an art facilitator by current staff. He has been a practicing artist in the Sacramento community for about 10+ years. He also helped revive the greenhouse and a vegetable garden.

James Anderson

James C. Anderson is an Ellie Award winning actor and director and in 1988 he founded The Short Center Repertory. He has served as Artistic Director since and The Short Center Repertory has received grants from The National Endowment for the Arts.

Stacey Hilton

Stacey joined DDSO in 2014, eager to assist the team and support DDSO’s vision, mission and values and manages Capitol Books and Gifts, the California State Capitol Museum gift shop.

Ayo Jacobs

Ayo, born and raised in the city of San Francisco, is a Bay Area native. Her customer service and office assistance experience spans over 20 years in retail and the private sector.  She joined DDSO in November 2017 as an Administrative Secretary.

Ger Moua

Ger earned a Bachelors in Gerontology from CSUS. She joined DDSO in 2012 and has a variety of experience working with young adults on the Autism spectrum in a residential school, skilled nursing facility, and behavioral management adult day program. It is important to her to have the participants to

Sylvia Butler

Sylvia joined DDSO in 2006 as a DSP at Short Center South. What drove her to become the PD was the compassion and respect she has for the participants and their families. She is excited for the opportunity to bring new ideas and direction into a program that she has

Board Members 2022-2023

  • Patti Wirz – Chair
  • Diane Schmidt
  • Christina Bellon
  • Deb Jolette

    Foundation Board Members 2022-2023

    • Mike Madrid – President
    • Jonathan Greenberg – Secretary
    • Patti Wirz – Trustee
    • Don Wilcox – Trustee
    • Volunteer on a Board Committee Apply to Join the Board

      History of the Developmental Disabilities Service Organization

       DDSO is celebrating 43 years as one of the most respected non-profit organizations in the Sacramento and San Joaquin regions, providing a diverse range of services for adults with developmental disabilities.

      Established in 1975 during a time when society’s common response to those with disabilities was one of disregard, parents of children with developmental disabilities and Mary Short, wife of California Senator Alan Short, started to establish DDSO. Its inaugural program, The Alan Short Center, was the first of its kind in the nation to utilize visual and performing arts as a tool for teaching people with developmental disabilities. DDSO has since grown to operate 8 day programs located at three different sites. In addition, the organization operates a bookstore in the California State Capitol, has a grant-funded repertory company and produces community murals, artist residencies and other special projects throughout Sacramento and Stockton.

      DDSO was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation with the support and conviction of parents of children with disabilities who expected more from their children and society. Their innovative philosophy embraced the concept that, with adequate support, individuals could move beyond their disabilities to make appropriate lifestyle choices; develop communication, living, and working skills; and explore avenues of artistic expression. They believed that, through full participation in life, and positive interactions with the community at-large, individuals with disabilities could realize their personal potential meeting their own expectations and those of loved ones.