Every organization deserves time for celebration: a moment to set aside for reflection and thanks, and a chance to honor outstanding achievements. We do this each year through The Arc Maryland Awards Program.
The Arc Maryland Awards Program is designed to recognize those individuals, groups, communities and local chapters of The Arc whose contribution in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities represents meritorious service or achievement and warrants special statewide recognition.
Nominations will be open soon for The Annual Arc Maryland Awards, honoring advocates, employees, volunteers, educators and more! If you know people who deserve this recognition, please nominate them today. Click here for the Awards Nomination Packet, which has full descriptions of all 15 awards.
We will recognize award winners at The Arc Maryland State Convention on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at Turf Valley Resort. Registration will open soon, so please save the date. We hope to see you there!
For more information, contact The Arc Maryland at 410-571-9320 or email email@example.com.
2019 Award Winners
The President’s Cup is selected by The Arc Maryland state president. The award honors an individual, group or organization that has contributed to the mission and vision of The Arc by providing an exceptional commitment to improving the quality of life of the people we represent.
Senator Edward J. Kasemeyer, The Arc Maryland
Senator Kasemeyer was appointed to the Maryland House of Delegates and served from 1983 to 1987. He was appointed to the Maryland Senate in 1987 and served as the Chairperson of the Budget and Taxation Committee and on Executive Nominations and Rules Committees up until his recent retirement from public service.
Senator Kasemeyer is honored with The Arc Maryland’s highest award of President’s Cup; in recognition of over three decades of legislative leadership and tireless work on behalf of people with disabilities and their families. He has been referenced over the years as the “ultimate champion” for the disabilities community and although he is demure about this honor and would defer it to others, this title has been bestowed upon Senator Kasemeyer for good reason.
He has been at the forefront of creating and maintaining a foundation for ensuring citizens with disabilities have the support they need to fully participate in their communities, and he has forged incredible partnerships throughout his distinguished career that have been necessary in securing critical funding for disability provider organizations and people who self-direct their services in the state.
As the Chairperson of the Budget and Taxation Committee of the Senate, he has lead the committee with social conscience and fiscal responsibility and helped to protect many of those supported throughout The Arc from cuts to critical funding and services. We have no doubt that even in retirement, the legacy he leaves behind, to include the groundwork he laid and the culture of servant leadership he has influenced in the Senate, will continue to serve our community well.
The Legacy Award
This award is presented on those occasions where the individual’s lifetime work leaves a legacy for the future and mission of The Arc.
Sue Haynes, The Arc Howard County
Sue has dedicated 30 years of service and her career to providing sound fiscal management for programs and services offered by The Arc Howard County. She will be retiring at the end of this year and will be greatly missed.
She has been the “glue” of The Arc Howard as she understands all the intricacies associated with being a disabilities provider. While her career has centered on financial administration, Sue has always been a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. It is reflected in her day-to-day work with state agencies, mentorship of fellow Arc financial professionals, The Arc Howard County’s departments and their staff.
Sue is a direct and precise leader, never leaving anyone confused or uncertain about our mission and the person-centered support we need to provide for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over the years, Sue has worn many hats and has worked in various capacities to ensure that The Arc Howard County would remain fiscally sound. Her job duties have not been of a traditional Chief Financial Officer, but more of a financial “Chief of Staff” as she works tirelessly to keep all the parts moving. She has survived the ever-changing systems and structures forwarded by state agencies over the past three decades. She is an encyclopedia of knowledge, an innovator of ideas to constantly assess and improve our system, and as an invaluable resource to The Arc.
Joan Karasik, The Arc Montgomery County
Joan Karasik’s son has a disability, so she has personal knowledge of how to be an effective advocate. For close to 70 years, she has been at the forefront of the movement to ensure quality lives for people with disabilities and to ensure their full inclusion in schools and other aspects of the community. She is respected as a treasure trove of information and has spent countless hours, months and years serving on committees and boards, attending hearings and educating legislators.
Although Joan was never employed by the Montgomery County school system, a search of Joan’s name results in pages of reports including Joan’s names and powerful statements; from Board of Education hearings, commission and committee meetings dating as far back as 1983. She helped design the Extended School Year programs, served on the Ad Hoc IEP design team and on the Due Process committee to make the IEP more user-friendly. She has been an active member of the Montgomery County Public Schools Special Education Advisory Committee and the Special Education Staffing Committee. She has been a champion for ensuring students and young adults with disabilities gain access to and participate in inclusive settings, well beyond simple compliance with Least Restrictive Environment laws.
In the community, Joan has been an active and vocal member of The Arc Montgomery County Education Committee and The Arc Maryland Education Committee through the years. She founded the Transition Work Group to improve the transition of young people with disabilities from school to work and served as Chairperson of that group until the age of 89. After that, she served as Chair for a League of Women Voters committee, focused on children’s issues. For many years, Joan participated in Developmental Disabilities Day at the Legislature, where her relationship with Montgomery County legislators opened doors for fellow parents, self-advocates, and professionals to discuss timely issues affecting people with disabilities and their families.
Joan Karasik has been a mentor and friend to hundreds of parents of children with disabilities throughout her life. She has been a particular advocate for young people who “fall between the
cracks” or who have additional issues which cause them to engage with the criminal justice system. She works to ensure that every child can be successful in his or her life, and shares resources and success stories with parents.
In 1991, The Arc Montgomery County named its first fully-inclusive child care center after Joan Karasik and her husband, Monroe. Their investment made it possible to create the program, which continues to supports over 150 children with and without disabilities and special healthcare needs; all learning and growing together in the same classrooms.
Now 100 years old, Joan Karasik has not slowed down as she continues to advocate for the children and youth of Montgomery County and Maryland. Her well-respected voice reflects the longevity of her service, her tenacity in searching for solutions, her willingness to engage in courageous conversations to reach a difficult consensus, and her ability to understand all perspectives of any situation. Her passion, commitment, dedication, and energy are impressive. Her lifelong dedication to The Arc is commendable, and the legacy she has created is immeasurable.
Outstanding Legislator of the Year Award
The Honorable Richard S. Madaleno, Jr., Maryland Senator
Senator Madaleno served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 2003 to 2007. He was elected to the Maryland Senate in 2007. Over his many years of public service, Senator Madaleno has been successful in securing the passage of vital economic, education, environmental and transportation legislation. He is well recognized as the “go-to expert” on budget issues and has repeatedly stepped up to support and advocate for the interests of people with disabilities, their families, and the provider organizations who support them. He ensures that the health and sustainability of our systems of support are considered within legislation that could otherwise have unintended consequences for providers and people with disabilities.
Senator Madaleno currently serves as the Vice Chairperson of the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee where we worked to ensure that an increase in DDA funding, that was mandated in the Minimum Wage Act of 2014 but not included in the initial release of the state operating budget, was restored to the FY19 Budget.
Senator Madaleno is recognized today for his continued leadership and dedication to the rights and quality of life of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the state through his work to ensure a stable system of supports in Maryland for people with disabilities.
The Honorable Craig J. Zucker, Maryland Senator
Senator Zucker served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2011 and until his appointment to the Senate in 2016. He currently serves on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs
Committee, as the Senate Chairperson of the Joint Audit Committee and on the Maryland Commission on Disabilities Task Force on Restraint and Seclusion. He also served on the Task Force on the Maryland Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program and was instrumental in bringing ABLE access to Maryland. Senator Zucker has been a champion for people with disabilities and their families and has sponsored many important pieces of legislation to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.
Senator Zucker is honored as lead sponsor of SB550 (HB782) – Maryland Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program – Modifications – which passed this session with amendments. The bill amended the current law to prohibit the State, unless required by federal law, from seeking payment from a Maryland ABLE account or its proceeds for any amount of medical assistance (Medicaid) paid for the designated beneficiary. Additionally, the amendment allows money and assets in an ABLE account to be transferred, upon the death of a designated beneficiary, to the beneficiary’s estate or an ABLE account for another eligible individual specified by either the designated beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate. The Maryland ABLE program, modeled after college 529 savings programs, provides a way for individuals with disabilities and their families to save for disability-related expenses to maintain health, independence, and quality of life without jeopardizing eligibility for essential programs like SSI and Medicaid.
The Honorable Tawanna P. Gaines, Maryland House of Delegates
Delegate Gaines has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2001. For many years, Delegate Gaines has served in the House Appropriations Committee, most recently serving as Vice Chairperson of that Committee. She is also the Vice Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Transportation and the Environment, is a member of the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee, as well as the Joint committee on Children, Youth and Families.
Healthcare has always been important to Delegate Gaines; as Chairperson of the Prince George’s Hospital she saw firsthand the issues that needed to be addressed and worked to ensure the County hospital, which is also a critical component of the trauma care system of Maryland, had operating necessities to include appropriate funding, personnel, and facilities.
As Vice Chairperson of the Appropriations Committee, she has been an effective voice in support of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families and the provider network in Maryland. She has assisted providers in Prince George’s County to obtain county support to bridge a funding gap created by the implementation of the County’s minimum wage law.
Delegate Gaines is being honored for her work, not only on the local level for constituents with disabilities, but also on the statewide level as she worked this session to ensure the restoration of much needed and promised funding for DDA services.
The Honorable Jefferson L. Ghrist, Maryland House of Delegates
Delegate Ghrist has been serving in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2014. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee, and a member of the Sub Committees on Health and Human Resources, and Health and Social Services.
Delegate Ghrist has sponsored legislation to create preferential hiring of people with disabilities and veterans for open government positions. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Delegate Ghrist has been very supportive to people with disabilities and their families in the counties he represents, and his shared concern for the welfare of people with disabilities and their families helped to secure a restoration of the 3.5% increase in funding to the DDA budget.
The Honorable Maggie McIntosh, Maryland House of Delegates
Delegate McIntosh was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1994. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the House Appropriations Committee, a member of the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee and has served as a Member of the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with
As the Chairperson of the powerful House Committee that approves the final state budget, Delegate McIntosh is being honored today for her stalwart advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities statewide where she has worked to ensure the stability of our Developmental Disabilities systems of supports. We thank Delegate McIntosh for her leadership in restoring the 3.5% DDA Community Services funding increase to the 2018 State Operating Budget.
Delegate McIntosh was also instrumental in ensuring the preservation of full funding in the DDA Budget for Transitioning Youth, Emergency Funding, Crisis Resolution Funding, Two new capped waivers that will serve 800 additional children and adults in the state, and for MSDE funding for autism waiver services.
The Honorable Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher, Maryland House of Delegates
Delegate Waldstreicher was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 2007. He is a member of the Economic Matters Committee, and Unemployment Insurance subcommittee.
Delegate Waldstreicher has been honored previously by The Arc Maryland and he continues to be a passionate leader for the rights and equality of people with disabilities. Delegate Waldstreicher is recognized and honored today for his service as the lead sponsor on HB782 (SB550) – Maryland Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Program – Modifications – a bill which passed this session with amendments. The bill amended the current law to prohibit the State, unless required by federal law, from seeking payment from a Maryland ABLE account or its proceeds for any amount of medical assistance (Medicaid) paid for the designated beneficiary. Additionally, the amendment allows money and assets in an ABLE account to be transferred, upon the death of a designated beneficiary, to the beneficiary’s estate or an ABLE account for another eligible individual specified by either the designated beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate. The Maryland ABLE program, modeled after college 529 savings programs, provides a way for individuals with disabilities and their families to save for disability-related expenses to maintain health, independence, and quality of life without jeopardizing eligibility for essential programs like SSI and Medicaid.
Outstanding Advocate of the Year
This award is presented for advocacy leadership on behalf of persons with I/DD and their families, including systemic change, legal advocacy and professional endeavors that increase the rights of persons with I/DD to inclusive lives.
Matthew Elburn, Transition/CWE Coordinator, Worcester County Public Schools
Matt Elburn has been a tireless advocate for people with disabilities for many years. Matt has served as a Transition Teacher in the Certificate/Work Programs for Worcester County Schools and was recently promoted to CWE Coordinator within the County. Although Worcester County Schools was not a recipient of the MD Seamless Transition Collaborative (MSTC) grant in 2010, Matt quickly included Worcester County in the Wicomico County MSTC tri-county efforts to form the Tri-County Transition Council named SWEET (School to Work: Education, Employment, and Transition). Over the past several years, this council has hosted a Self-Advocacy Conference for youth with disabilities with over 100 youth and families in attendance. Matt also holds a transition night for Worcester County where employers and community members are brought in to celebrate the accomplishments of youth who have been working.
Through the SWEET Council, Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset Transition teachers (Barbara Bell, Matt Elburn, Jeff-Hale) initiated the 18 to 21year-old program at Warwick Community College
where youth attain certificates of completion and marketable skills for competitive employment. This program has expanded and includes completer certificates in culinary, landscaping, childcare,
and office technologies.
Through Matt’s leadership in 2017, Worcester County Schools received the Way2Work grant from The Division of Rehabilitation Services which is designed to prepare youth with disabilities for the world of work.
Lastly, Matt has been relentless in bringing a nationally known program, Project Search, to the Eastern Shore and Worcester County Public Schools. This is a school program housed at an employer site, Atlantic General Hospital in this case, where 8-10 youth, each year, have classroom instruction each morning. After the instruction of about an hour, each youth will complete three internship rotations in three different departments for the entire school year.
Matt has been a game-changer for Transitioning Youth Services in the lower shore, and we commend him for exceptional work and innovation!
School Inclusion Award
The School Inclusion Award recognizes a school, teacher, educator, administrator, support personnel, or other education professionals who has demonstrated excellence in providing quality inclusive educational opportunities for students with intellectual/developmental disabilities, reflective of The Arc position on education and inclusion of students with developmental disabilities. This may include early education, secondary education, and higher education.
Heritage Learning Center, The Arc Central Chesapeake Region
For the past 12 years, Heritage Learning Center has supported the inclusion of children with disabilities into their preschool classrooms. The preschool directors and staff have welcomed students with disabilities and their families with open arms, making them a part of the Heritage Learning Center community. In addition, Heritage Learning Center has allowed staff from Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ (AACPS) Infants and Toddlers Program and Community-Based Services to support and coach the learning center general education staff to ensure the youngest learners have a strong, nurturing educational experience. The school offers its support to AACPS staff, families and students with disabilities by providing space for meetings and play groups so they can provide special education and related services to children with disabilities. Without community partners such as Heritage Learning Center, with whom we can collaborate, some of our youngest learners may not have access to a quality, inclusive early education experience. Thank you, Heritage Learning Center, for your commitment to ensuring that all children are included and have equal opportunities to learn.
Employer of the Year
The Employer of the Year Award is presented to a private employer, business or firm with an exceptional record and ongoing commitment to provide competitive employment opportunities where people with I/DD are paid market wages and benefits.
Bel Air Athletic Club, The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region
The Bel Air Athletic Club (BAAC) is a health and fitness facility that provides a full range of programs and services. They have several gyms and weight rooms, as well as basketball courts, pools for recreation and rehabilitation, childcare, and preschool services.
BAAC is more than an employer; they are a PARTNER in every sense of the word. Over the years, they have employed several individuals supported by The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region (The Arc NCR) with two individuals currently employed. One of the individuals is a young lady who has worked in their childcare department for over 10 years. She loves the children and has made very good friends during her tenure with the Club. The other individual is a young man who works on the gym floor where he ensures the exercise equipment is in good repair, sanitized and ready for patrons. He enjoys his job as it allows him to converse with BAAC members; meeting and making new friends from his local community.
While being a stellar employer alone would qualify the Bel Air Athletic Club as worthy of recognition, they have gone further by recently agreeing to a partnership with DORS and The Arc NCR to create 6-8 week learning experiences for those interested in working and in need of additional work experiences for their resumes!
The Bel Air Athletic Club allows people supported by The Arc NCR to use their vast array of services at an affordable fee. The activities range from using the equipment, attending Zumba classes, playing pick-up basketball, and using the pool. The Bel Air Athletic Club embraces the mission of The Arc to enhance everyone’s opportunities to work and play in their communities. For these reasons, we recognize The Bel Air Athletic Club as the employer of the Year.
Media Excellence Award
This award honors outstanding media efforts that create a better understanding of intellectual/developmental disabilities and individuals with I/DD. The award recognizes public media stories, reports, or programs in television, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Copies of the product must be submitted. The media effort(s) must have been broadcast or published during the last 12-month period.
Digital Single Work – Jeremy Roop, The Arc Carroll County
Jeremy is a visionary. He saw that The Arc Carroll County had a need for promoting the success of individuals in employment and developed a YouTube channel for The Arc Carroll County. This channel has several videos that Jeremy has filmed and edited himself. These videos demonstrate the abilities of the people supported by The Arc Carroll County as they work throughout the community. One video is of a transitioning-aged student who became a full-time employee due to a successful partnership between the business and his job coach. Another video highlights a group of paid employees supported by The Arc Carroll County, who work in the recycling department of a large organization. He created a video highlighting a woman who uses her creative talents to design greeting cards for purchase. The next planned video is of a post-graduation student who received training in carpentry skills by the local college in partnership with the school system and The Arc Carroll County.
Jeremy has been innovative in using technology as a way to create opportunities for our individuals and to educate employers on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.
Best Series – Joe Shapiro, NPR
Joseph Shapiro is an Investigative news correspondent with National Public Radio. In this role, he takes on long-term reporting projects and he also covers breaking news stories for NPR’s news shows.
Mr. Shapiro is being recognized for his important work to investigate and report on the epidemic of sexual assault of people with intellectual disabilities; for uncovering and exposing this previously hidden epidemic. Corroborated with U.S. Department of Justice data, his investigation revealed that people with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate that is seven times that of people without disabilities. His stories continue to trend in social media and have so even actions to increase sexual abuse awareness and training for caregivers of children and reporting requirements of teachers and other school professionals. The importance of trauma-informed care was also explored in his series through interviews with one of The Arc Baltimore’s very own specialists in the field; Dr. Karyn Harvey.
Prior to this story, Mr. Shapiro reported on the problems with solitary confinement, and the inadequacy of civil rights laws designed to help older adults and people with disabilities to get out of nursing homes.
His reporting has generated wide-spread attention to serious issues here and abroad.
Mr. Shapiro has received many journalism awards in his distinguished career to include a duPont Award, George Foster Peabody Award, George Polk Award, Robert F. Kennedy Award, Edward R. Murrow Award, Sigma Delta Chi, IRE, Dart and Gracie awards, and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Award.
He is also the author of the award-winning book NO PITY: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement, which is widely read in disability studies classes.
Stanley S. Sidle/William Ohge Jr. Memorial Citizenship Award
This award honors an individual with intellectual/developmental disabilities for outstanding participation in or contribution to the community, including community leadership, contribution to his/her community and/or elf-advocacy. This award carries a $100.00 stipend provided by the Stanley S. Sidle Memorial Fund of The Arc Baltimore.
Christopher Young, The Arc Southern Maryland
Christopher Young is a 2017 Graduate from the College of Southern Maryland. He received his Associate Degree in Applied Science, and he also has a CAD Certificate as well as honor letters from the College of Southern Maryland for maintaining a 3.5 or above GPA! Once Christopher graduated, he participated in a two-month internship at Platform Aerospace in Hollywood, Maryland.
Christopher actively participates in the Children’s Miracle Network. Christopher recently was diagnosed with cancer, but he is a determined young man that wants to pursue his passion. Christopher enjoys learning new skills and is seeking employment in the Information Technology field. Christopher also loves to cook and bake.
For his pursuit of personal and commUnity excellence, we honor Christopher Young today with the Stanley S. Sidle and William Oghe Jr. Memorial Citizenship Award!
Professional of the Year
The Professional of the Year award recognizes an executive or manager employed in a non-Arc community service program or professional endeavor of direct relevance to intellectual/developmental disabilities who has demonstrated sensitivity and the ability to provide outstanding quality which results in increased independence and inclusive lives for people with I/DD. The recipient may demonstrate excellence in any of the following areas: residential supports, family support, individual supports, employment supports, behavior intervention or prevention. The staff of The Arc at any level are not eligible.
Somnath Sengupta, Ph.D., The Arc Howard County
Somnath Sengupta is the father of a young adult with autism and he is also a very successful entrepreneur. Seeing a need for additional work training, structured employment, and enhanced work opportunities, Dr. Sengupta founded My Life Learning Center (MLLC) in 2016. He sought to address the lack of quality, affordable after school and after work programs for young adults with autism. The Life Advancement thru Skill Enhancement (LASE ™) program of My Life Learning Center trains its students on science, math, culinary, volunteering, and art skills. When Dr. Sengupta noticed that many young adults with autism experience a low employment rate, he founded Every Life Works (ELW) in 2017 to create an ecosystem of micro businesses where neurotypical adults work side-by-side with those with autism.
To date, there are three revenue generating businesses operating under the model to include silk screen printing, usable art products, and electronic subsystem assembly. The overall model has successfully served several students in Howard County. This year, the organization is expanding to support part-time students while working to create more micro businesses with other organizations to benefit more young adults with autism. As such, Dr. Sengupta has initiated a partnership with the Energetics Technology Center (ETC) to expand its business model into incubating micro businesses to address national security issues.
Professional of the Year for Direct Services
The Professional of the Year for Direct Services award recognizes a professional engaged in direct supports to people with I/DD. The award is presented to a non-Arc professional (aside from teachers/educators) employed in a community service program or professional endeavor of direct relevance to I/DD and who has demonstrated sensitivity and the ability to provide an outstanding quality that results in increased independence and inclusion of people with I/DD.
Erin Conner, The Arc Southern Maryland
Erin understands the mission of the Arc and employs person-first principals in everything she does. She has supported many people, that The Arc Southern Maryland also supports, through Resource Coordination, and most recently through the Charles County School System. Erin assists with the Transitioning Youth program, summer youth program, and has supported The Arc through the Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre ETS) program. Erin will advocate for the students and their families. She assists them with making sure that their Medicaid is active (Medicaid waivered) so they remain eligible to receive services and if not, she reaches out to see what else can be done. Erin makes sure that families are aware of the opportunities that are available to them out in the community. It is a pleasure working with Erin.
The Arc Outstanding Employee of the Year: Administration/Program
The Arc Outstanding Employee of the Year: Administration/Program award is presented to The Arc employee in Administration/ Program Management at the state or local level who has made the greatest contribution to his/her organization and the mission of The Arc through both personal and professional efforts. This award recognizes the vital role of The Arc employees in complementing volunteer efforts.
Sue Rattman, The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region
Sue is an invaluable resource to the individuals and staff at The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region. She is a shining example of being person- centered in all aspects of her job. Sue has been integral in advocating for supported individuals, especially with their insurance and ensuring needed services are covered. She was integral in the creation and execution of the Financial and Alone-Time Assessment process to support individuals in managing their money and identifying additional skills and education to increase their independence.
Sue also headed a mentoring and education program for families and a family support group. She has served as a broker for people who are in self-directed services and she has helped many families navigate this process. Her name is well known in the community as she is seen as a resource to families in crisis.
Sue has an amazing ability to explain complex service systems and choices in an empathetic and understandable way. She is the organization’s local expert on the Medicaid waiver, on self-directed services, and on Social Security and work incentive programs. Her passion for advocating for those at- risk is reflected in the Boards she serves on which include: Harford County Vulnerable Adults Multi-Disciplinary Committee; Harford County Child Welfare Multi-Disciplinary Team; Advisory Board Office on Aging; Adult Public Guardianship Review Board and Council for Harford County; and the Harford Roundtable.
Sue has been an integral part of The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region for over 22 years and has been a tremendous advocate for people supported by the organization.
Deborah Wagner, The Arc Howard County
Since October of 1987, Debbie has shown dedication to The Arc of Howard County and the individuals that are and have been supported by the organization. Her 30-year career has always focused on person-centered practices and ensuring that each and every individual served by The Arc of Howard County receives quality supports to assist them in achieving their goals and dreams. Her commitment to an agency-wide transformation that began in October of 2016 reflected outstanding leadership and knowledge so that individuals supported through Community Integration (Day),
Residential services and Personal Supports could experience a higher level of independence and increased community inclusion. Her input on a complete restructure of the agency’s staffing infrastructure was critical. She worked with other key senior staff to identify a strategic training effort that would align employees with the new framework, focused on person-centered thinking. Standardization of positions, creating a clear path of advancement and a commitment to training were foundations of the transformation.
In her role as Associate Executive Director of Services, Debbie had the responsibility of leading two directors and more than 200 staff through the pivotal, transformative change. Debbie has provided the necessary guidance, cheerleading and negotiating to keep The Arc Howard County on track.
Debbie’s success comes from the ardent support she receives from staff, families and the people supported by The Arc Howard; because of the respect and admiration they have for her and the loving and sincere relationships they have forged over the years.
The Arc Outstanding Employee of the Year: Gilbert John Zucchi Direct Care Award
The Arc Outstanding Employee of the Year: Gilbert John Zucchi Direct Care Award is presented to a staff person of The Arc engaged in direct supports to people with I/DD who exemplifies the qualities of Gil Zucchi: superior moral strength and integrity, devotion to individuals with developmental disabilities beyond the call of duty, warm personal relationships, respect, thoughtfulness and fairness in relationships with persons with developmental disabilities. This award is presented to The Arc employee in Direct Care at the state or local level who has made the greatest contribution to his/her organization and the mission of The Arc through both personal and professional efforts. This award recognizes the vital role of Arc employees in complementing volunteer efforts.
Sharon Hunt, The Arc Prince George’s County
During Sharon’s tenure at the Arc of Prince George’s County, she has worked tirelessly improving the lives of the individuals. She has made a measurable impact during her 25-year employment as a passionate advocate, caregiver, and friend for the individuals she has supported.
Some of the positions that Sharon has held at The Arc include working as a CNA, Community Living Supervisor, and presently a Program Manager; providing direct oversight to 3 residential homes. She has also worked very closely with family members, agency staff and other team members. Family members have the utmost trust and confidence in Shannon’s ability to provide exceptional care for their loved ones. Sharon’s sensitivity and concern for others has been demonstrated throughout her illustrious career.
This past year, Sharon assisted two individuals with planning and coordinating some large birthday celebrations commemorating their 40th and 50th birthdays in grand style with a host of friends
and family in attendance. The individuals also enjoyed attending concerts featuring their favorite performers, including Janet Jackson and Tamala Mann. They had a joyous time, enjoying the music from their favorite performers!
If you asked Sharon “what makes you stay in this field?” Her response is, “I love taking care of people that need assistance; the individuals I support. It suits my personality. I wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.”
Dana Shrader, The Arc Carroll County
If a person ran a popularity contest at The Arc Carroll County, Dana would win in a landslide amongst both staff and individuals supported. In every facet of her job, Dana brings energy, enthusiasm, compassion and a wonderful sense of humor. Dana is incredibly adventurous, and it is safe to say that there are more funny stories about activities with Dana than stars in the sky! It does not matter who Dana is supporting, if they are with Dana, they will have an amazing adventure. She does an excellent job of balancing one-on-one supports with group activities. Dana recognizes that the individuals supported by The Arc Carroll County need a healthy combination of direct support from their staff and time to spend with peers. Dana enjoys coordinating group
activities locally or all the way to Camden Yards. She always includes people with disabilities in every aspect of the planning.
Dana’s wild imagination brings joy to both her supervisors and the people she supports. Currently, she is planning a Candy Land adventure – a Dana original. She and other Arc Carroll County staff have taken the Candy Land board game and made it life-sized, complete with an ice cream mountain sundae bar. Everyone is looking forward to this event because we know if Dana is involved, it is going to be an unforgettable time. Her laughter and sense of adventure are absolutely contagious. “Laughter is the best medicine” is her mantra and this has proven true so many times as we see Dana opening doors and building trust in people who were previously hesitant to let anyone “in.”
Dana’s innovation and energy stem from the dignity and respect she holds for each individual. She identifies qualities in each person she supports, and then creates a way to tap into that potential.
Certificate of Appreciation/Meritorious Service
This award conveys official appreciation from the Association to an individual(s) and organization that has made a significant contribution or achievement in the field of developmental disabilities on a voluntary or employed basis. The activity should reflect one of the priority goals of The Arc Maryland and its mission.
Tom Estok, The Arc Central Chesapeake Region
Tom works tirelessly for a number of support agencies in the region and has made an incredible impact on the lives of many members of the Anne Arundel Road Sharks Special Olympics Cycling team. He consistently dreams big for each teammate and encourages them to dream big for themselves. He teaches them to set goals for themselves and support each other as teammates in their challenges and successes. Tom as also helped to forge great friendships among the cycling teammates. Tom models the value of each individual and the power in sharing and encouragement.
Tom has made a huge impact in the lives of so many, and The Arc Central Chesapeake Region knows there is only more to come!
Lt. Col. Chris Kuester & Adrienne Barnett, The Arc Prince George’s County
In 2016 The Arc Prince George’s County approached Joint Base Andrews and asked if they would partner with The Arc Prince George’s County to start a Project SEARCH program. Without hesitation Lt. Col. Kuester was “all in” and was able to encourage others to also embrace the partnership. He assisted The Arc Prince George’s County in getting assigned a business liaison (Adrienne Barnette) from Joint Base Andrews to work closely with all partners on a daily basis. From idea to fruition, both Lt. Col Kuester and Adrienne have worked with the The Arc’s job coaches to support students in the Project SEARCH program every step of the way!
Their excellent collaboration and team-player attitude, continues to provide valuable insight and expertise to the Project SEARCH program. They volunteer their time to participate in this program and helps students develop work skills and work ethics with the opportunity to build their skills at various internship work sites located on Joint Base Andrews. Their hard work and diligence to support students is commendable and their ability to work with students and support them helps to create a very well rounded and successful program. The program wouldn’t exist without both Lt. Col. Kuester and Adrienne’s amazing work!
Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy, The Arc Southern Maryland
The Arc of Southern Maryland supports the self-advocates of People on the Go of Calvert. One of the group’s priorities for the past few years includes having self-advocates take part in giving first responders training on interacting with people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. When the training was about to become mandated for 201 7, the directors of the academy met with a Ron Mould (Vocational Supports Director for The Arc of Southern Maryland) and his staff who were the facilitators for People on the Go of Calvert. They arranged for the staff to become certified by the Police and Corrections Training Commission. They worked with the agency to provide a schedule that would allow self-advocates to assist in training all new St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert County deputies as well as in-service for all Calvert and St. Mary’s officers.
The directors, staff, and instructors were always very welcoming to all of the staff and self-advocates who participated in the trainings. This partnership allowed the self-advocates to share their experiences with those who serve their community to help ensure their safety in the community in which they live. The police and corrections officers were able to have an opportunity to hear directly from those with disabilities instead of about them from an instructor, which evaluations completed by the officers showed was valuable to them. They were able to interact with them and ask questions both during class and on breaks.
Not only would Director Keith Hicks frequently provide lunch for the staff and self-advocates, he would sit down and eat with them. He showed his genuine interest in everyone with the time he took to get to know them while they were there.
The Arc Volunteer of the Year
Aberdeen Iron Birds/Ripkin Stadium, The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region
Wendy Andrews, The Arc of Frederick County
Steve Brennan, The Arc Central Chesapeake Region
Annette Hinkle, The Arc Maryland
Cort Meinelschmidt, The Arc of Washington County
David (Scott) Mellinger, The Arc Southern Maryland
Scott Melville, The Arc Carroll County
Dottie Slavcoff, The Arc Montgomery County
Jim Stockton, The Arc Prince George’s County