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2023 Nominations

Categories and Criteria
Nomination Form
Agency of Distinction

Honors a public or private community organization that provides exemplary supports and demonstrates a commitment to community inclusion for people with disabilities. 

Full Life Ahead Foundation is an impactful organization that provides ‘exemplary supports.’ They host multiple family retreats to explain and inform families about options that they may otherwise not know or understand. 

The organization has been a catalyst for many of my university students who have attended Full Life Ahead as camp mentors. Participating in FLAF has changed the career direction of several of these college students when they discover the joy of working with these families.

Full Life Ahead 

Distinguished Direct Support Professional (DSP)

This award recognizes a Direct Support Professional who ‘goes the extra mile’ in supporting people with disabilities in their community with special emphasis on the values in the DSP Code of Ethics for Direct Support Professionals. 


Mr. Paul Blount dedicated his life promoting dignity and respect to the people he served. His legacy as a strong, trustworthy, and compassionate leader lives on through the countless other direct support professionals he mentored throughout his distinguished career. 

Paul Blount

Inclusive Employer

Honors an Alabama employer with an exceptional record of providing inclusive community employment opportunities and accommodations for people with disabilities.

Honda of Jasper is a very valuable partner of The Arc of Walker County. The dealership was a champion for Job Development and assisted Arc in designing the “Honda Ambassador” position. Because of Honda of Jasper’s vision and dedication to community, a young person with a disability has stable employment and the dealership has secured quality workmanship.

Honda of Jasper

Exemplary Educator


Honors an Alabama educator or leader in education who has demonstrated excellence in providing for the education of students with developmental and other disabilities.  Nominees for this award may include teachers/coaches, principals, administrators, school board members, college faculty, etc.

Ms. Kendra Burns demonstrates excellence by modifying teaching methods and adapting equipment/materials for the people she was working with.

Kendra Burns

National Award for Distinguished Service

Recognizes an individual whose contributions have had a statewide and nationwide impact on the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the local, state, and national levels.


Chris’s contributions have had a local, state, and national impact. During his tenure, he has increased fund raising efforts and leveraged strengths to serve additional individuals who were at risk of being without services. Chris is active on the National seen as well as the state level.

Chris Stewart

Distinguished Advocate of the Year

Recognizes an individual whose advocacy has had a direct and significant impact on the quality of life for people with I/DD.  Recipients of the award may be a Legislator, DHR Case mgr, DMH Case Mgr, Attorney, physician, City/County Leaders, etc.

Ms. Ann Riddle has provided a lifetime of service and advocacy for student with disabilities. She is a seasoned advocate who constantly supports service enhancement for people with disAbilities. Her work with agencies like Special Olympics has a direct and significant impact on the quality of life for people with I/DD.

Ann Riddle

Distinguished Professional of the Year

This award recognizes a Qualified Developmental Disability Professional or Case Manager recognized for their exceptional ability to listen to the true needs of those they coordinate services for, plan appropriately for outcomes that achieve an individual’s desired quality of life as they define it and/or meets their needs for community inclusion, and can provide demonstrated examples of those achieved inclusive outcomes.

Ms. Victoria Pettit listens to the voice of the people she serves. Victoria is an innovative Support Coordinator as she helps individuals braid their natural supports with services and achieve their goals. Victoria demonstrates the exceptional ability to listen and plan appropriately.

Victoria Pettit

Promising Young Leader

Honors an individual or a group who have demonstrated outstanding leadership potential as seen in volunteer efforts on special projects or events that enhance opportunities for people with disabilities in their community.  

Ms. Katelyn Makemson demonstrates strong leadership qualities and attributes. She has mentored students with disabilities as they enter inclusive activities such as school beauty pageants and softball. She is also the member of several school organizations. 

Katelyn Makemson

Family of the Year
Family of the Year

Recognizes a family having a member with intellectual and developmentaldisabilities who has been an inspiration to other families. 

Mr. Tom Holmes served as an Arc board member at the local, state, and national levels. Tom has a history of advocating for people with disabilities as the executive director at The Arc of Alabama. As the father of a child with a disability, Tom understands the challenges faced by families who support a member with disabilities and continues his work for systems change. 

The Holmes Family

(Tom Holmes)

Rehabilitation Professional of the Year

Honors a Rehabilitation Professional who has demonstrated commitment to advancing employment options for people with disabilities. This professional should be a role model for other Rehabilitation Professionals in the pursuit of community inclusive employment.

Ms. Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw’s staff holds her in high regard as a role model and mentor. Jane Elizabeth maintains many responsibilities and programs, yet she always takes time out to speak to others; ensuring they know they are welcomed and appreciated.

Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw

Education Advocate of the Year

Recognizes a policy leader in education whose advocacy has had a significant statewide impact on the quality of life for people with I/DD. Recipients of the award may be a policy leader in primary, secondary, or higher education.

 Ms. Harriette Dorosin has served as Easterseals of Central Alabama Learning Disabilities Coordinator since 1998. Harriette has touched many lives through her passionate leadership to help all students achieve their goals. Harriette is a longtime board member of Montgomery Area Committee on Employment of Persons with a Disability. She has helped families overcome barriers through encouragement and education.

Harriette Dorsin

Employee of the Year

Honors a Self-Advocate who has demonstrated commitment to employment, is recognized by his/her employer as an exemplar employee, and is a role model for other Self-Advocates in the pursuit of community inclusive employment. 

Ms. Betty Joan Webb is a committed employee devoted to providing a pleasant customer experience. Joan is dedicated to maintaining a warm and inviting atmosphere in the Kentucky Fried Chicken lobby. Joan’s loyalty is her trademark and has helped her win the hearts of KFC management, coworkers, and diners.

Betty Joan Webb

Self-Advocate of Distinction

Honors an outstanding self-advocate who has demonstrated leadership and promotes self-determination by being actively engaged in activities such as legislative advocacy, activities of a Board of Directors or city council, a speaker in public speaking engagements, activities of a civic group that promotes inclusion, etc.

Mr. Josh Echols serves as a mentor and role model for people with I/DD.  Josh exemplifies what it means to be an asset to The Arc of Central Alabama and the entire I/DD community. He has an optimistic and positive attitude infectious to everyone around him. Josh is warm and personable causing him to make instant connections and is a friend to all. Josh assists with conducting applicant interviews at The Arc of Central Alabama and is active with the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy program, attending each quarterly meeting on behalf of his peers. Josh is one of the founders and organizers of the Birmingham chapter of people First of Alabama.

Josh Echols

Legislative Advocate of the Year

Recognizes a legislator or legislative staff whose advocacy has had a
significant impact on the quality of life for people with I/DD. Recipients of the award may be a Legislator or staff member.

The Honorable Judge James Hill, Jr ensures people with disabilities receive the utmost care and consideration for all aspects of their lives. Judge Hill serves in advisory roles and is dedicated to changing the “Unachievable” into “Achievable.”   

Judge James E. Jill, Jr.

Executive of the Year

Honors a member of ACE/Arc in a senior management position who has demonstrated commitment to advancing the mission of The Arc. This person has gone above the call of duty over the last year and considered a role model for other professionals in the field.

 Since assuming his leadership position at The Arc of Fayette, Lamar, and Marengo Counties a number of years ago, he has grown his organization and developed solid revenue streams, such as a thrift store and laundromat. In rural counties with limited opportunities to build new business connections, any executive director able to successfully implement such programs must have the respect and support of his board of directors, staff, and the entire community. He has never met a stranger and will always greet you with a friendly smile- he is the definition of likeable. As volunteer co-chair of the 2018 Alabama Disability Conference, he went above and beyond the call of duty. He worked nights and weekends along with the other committee members to ensure the conference was a success. As one executive director said, “Even if we cloned Wade, he would still be one of a kind. We should all aspire to be more like Wade Reese.”

Wade Reese

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