ANCOR in the News - 09.30.20

ANCOR Announces 2020 Recipients of Leadership in Public Policy Awards

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Awards program to honor emerging leaders and lifelong advocates for community disability services at
national association’s upcoming Policy Summit


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the leading voice in Washington for providers of community-based services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), announced this morning the recipients of the association’s 2020 awards for public policy and advocacy. Honorees will be recognized in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, October 7, concurrent with ANCOR’s 2020 Policy Summit.

Today’s announcement included recipients of awards in four categories: (1) the Congressional Champion Award, (2) the Suellen Galbraith Award for Excellence in Public Policy, (3) the Diane McComb State Association Star Award, and (4) the Bonnie-Jean Brooks Rising Star Award. Honorees in the first two of these categories have been honored on an annual basis for several years, while the latter two categories were established and will be awarded for the first time in 2020.

Awarded annually, ANCOR’s Congressional Champion Award recognizes the elected official(s) whose support of disability services has left an indelible impact on the ability of people with I/DD to live and work in the community. This year’s recipients of ANCOR’s Congressional Champion Awards are The Honorable U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and The Honorable U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).

Also recognized on an annual basis by ANCOR are the recipients of the Suellen Galbraith Award for Excellence in Public Policy. Named for the late Suellen Galbraith, who led ANCOR’s government relations work for several years and passed away in 2015, this award recognizes the contributions of advocates who have had a significant impact on advancing the association’s public policy agenda in the past year. Three outstanding advocates are being recognized in 2020: Lori Kress, chief operations officer for Dungarvin in Mendota Heights, Minn.; Mark Matulka, vice president of government relations for Mosaic in Omaha, Neb.; and Matt Sturiale, president and chief executive officer for Birch Family Services in New York City.

Named for a recently retired disability services professional whose accomplishments in the field include cultivating a national network of statewide disability service provider associations, the Diane McComb State Association Star Award is the first of two new award categories established this year. The award was created to recognize the contributions of a state provider association leader that has transformed the service delivery system both in their state and on the federal level. The inaugural recipient of the Diane McComb State Association Star Award is Debbie Jenkins, policy director for the Ohio Health Care Association in Lewis Center, Ohio.

The second new honor to be conferred for the first time in 2020 is the Bonnie-Jean Brooks Rising Star Award. Named for an early pioneer in the field who continues to lead a provider organization (OHI in Hermon, Maine), the Bonnie-Jean Brooks Rising Star Award honors emerging leaders in the field who are defining the next generation of community-based disability services. The two inaugural recipients of this award are Yadira Holmes, director of government relations for Consumer Direct Care Network in Missoula, Mont., and Caroline Meehan, executive director of the Community Provider Association in New Orleans, La.

In speaking to the expansion of the awards program, Barbara Merrill, ANCOR’s chief executive officer, identified how the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges, to which ANCOR members have responded with extraordinary leadership. “Our community of providers has always been vibrant, and it is vibrant because of the leaders who give tirelessly to the association to ensure the highest quality of services are accessible to as many people with I/DD in our country as possible,” Merrill said. “But seeing the incredible ways our community has risen to the occasion in the midst of this pandemic made a seemingly impossible task out of identifying who to honor with this year’s public policy awards.”

Shannon McCracken, ANCOR’s vice president for government relations, added: “Deciding who to honor with the Congressional Champion Award and the Suellen [Galbraith] Award was a monumental charge. Ultimately, we created the [Diane McComb] State Association Star Award and the [Bonnie-Jean Brooks] Rising Star Award out of sheer necessity given the diverse range of ways ANCOR members are making significant contributions to our association and our mission.”

The eight honorees named above will be recognized during a virtual ceremony, Honoring Those Who Lead Beyond Crisis, at 12 pm EDT on Wednesday, October 7. The ceremony is part of ANCOR’s 2020 Policy Summit: Leading Beyond Change, which will convene nearly 300 policymakers, regulators, advocates, subject-matter experts and others. Members of the press interested in attending the awards ceremony or other select Policy Summit sessions should contact Sean Luechtefeld, ANCOR’s Senior Director for Communications, at [email protected].



For 50 years, the American Network of Community Options and Resources ( has been a leading advocate for the critical role service providers play in enriching the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). As a national nonprofit trade association, ANCOR represents 1,600+ organizations employing more than a half-million professionals who together serve more than a million individuals with I/DD. Our mission is to advance the ability of our members to support people with I/DD to fully participate in their communities.