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2012 Direct Support Professional Recognition Contest

December 14, 2011

Through its landmark National Advocacy Campaign, ANCOR continues to provide a strong voice in Washington for the direct support workforce on issues that impact their ability to provide quality supports to millions of Americans with disabilities. In addition, ANCOR has led the way to increasingly high standards for quality, inclusion and individual choice.

To honor the long-term supports and services workforce, ANCOR is pleased to announce the Sixth Annual Direct Support Professional Recognition Award competition. There’s no question that direct support professions (DSPs) constitute the backbone of community supports and services and without whom we could not function.

By nominating the star of your DSP staff for this coveted award, you have a unique opportunity to bestow deserved national recognition, while fueling advocacy initiatives on behalf of DSPs nationwide. We invite you to showcase the best and brightest within your organization’s DSP community. Recognize this invaluable workforce by answering the call for nominations today!


In 2007, ANCOR awarded its first national Direct Support Professional Recognition Awards in conjunction with the National Advocacy Campaign (NAC). Since then, ANCOR has recognized more than 150 state and national direct support professionals and members of the long-term supports and services workforce. The campaign’s mission is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by obtaining the resources to recruit, train and retain a sustainable direct support workforce. Focused on the theme, “You Need to Know Me,” the awards honor and recognize the dedicated individuals who continually enrich the lives of the people with disabilities they serve.

Why Submit a Nomination?

In addition to advancing the goals of the NAC, your nomination provides an opportunity to spotlight the critical value and importance of your dedicated direct support staff. Each nominee is considered a "finalist" and acknowledged accordingly by ANCOR. Your participation demonstrates the value you place on your direct support staff, while educating your local media, elected officials and supporters about the value DSPs bring to their communities.

Nomination Process

Only nominations submitted online through ANCOR's website will be eligible for consideration. Nominations must be received no later than 5 p.m. EST on Wednesday, February 15, 2012.

Please nominate only one person from each organization. For multi-state organizations, you may submit three nominations for each state in which you provide services.

Only nominations accompanied by a clear digital photograph of the nominee (preferably with the person(s) they serve or in a work environment) will be eligible for consideration.

All state and national winners will be announced at ANCOR's 2012 Conference: Leading Cultures of Innovation and Advocacy, which will take placeMay 6-8in Washington, DC. The national winner will be invited to attend the conference at ANCOR's expense.

Tips for Nominations

Throughout the long-term supports and services industry, the term “Direct Support Professional” or “DSP” carries a broad definition. For purposes of this contest, the term DSP is defined as someone who works as a direct care worker, in-home support worker, personal assistant, or attendant who ensures people with disabilities have the necessary supports that enable them to live life more independently, often in a community-based setting.

Nominate the direct support staff member you believe is most representative of this valued, committed workforce; someone who warrants kudos and recognition for advocating inclusion in the community, enhancing community participation for the people they serve, instilling leadership among peers, and for commitment to the profession of direct support.

Please pay careful attention to the criteria and points values indicated on the nomination form. The awards committee will look for specific examples of each area and award points accordingly. If you fail to offer an example of one of the criteria, your nominee will receive no points in that area.

Here are some additional recommendations, based on past experience, that you should follow to ensure the strongest possible nomination:

  • Don't tell; show.The sentence "Jane is an incredible leader and advocate" is not as compelling for the committee as a specific example that shows Jane exhibiting the qualities of a leader and advocating.
  • Remember the person(s) being served. A description of the numerous activities of the DSP, for example, someone who is very active in Special Olympics or who arranges many special activities for the individuals he or she serves, is not as compelling without a description of the effect of these activities on the lives of the individual(s) being served.
  • Don't waste words. Focus on sharing information directly related to the awards criteria. Don't devote too much space other issues including, but not limited to, the nominee's life story, describing how the nominee cares for a family member with a disability, or the list of jobs that led the nominee to his or her current position. If these elements are relevant to the criteria, state your case as succinctly as possible.
  • Avoid nearly identical submissions for more than one DSP.Amazingly, this happens. Remember, we're looking for what makes the nominee uniquely qualified for the award. This is impossible for the committee to discern if the nominator does not distinguish between two individuals.
  • Don't leave any category out. Again, if you do not address one of the criteria with a specific example, your nominee will not receive points and will be at a significant advantage.

Nominees should also:

  • Have long, reliable tenure in their job;
  • Have strong ties to the people and families supported;
  • Demonstrate instances of going above and beyond the call of duty; and
  • Provide examples of overcoming on-the-job challenges.


Please direct any questions to Mary Pauline Jones.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the direct support workforce and the deliver of quality long term supports and services to those with disabilities.

All nominations are confidential. ANCOR will secure release forms from nominees before using their name or likeness in any public communications.