Press Release - 10.05.23

Senator Hassan (D-NH) Joins Seven Disability Professionals as Recipients of ANCOR’s 2023 Excellence in Public Policy Awards

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Longstanding awards program honors individuals whose significant contributions have improved public policy landscape for community disability services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, ANCOR announced the eight individuals receiving the association’s 2023 Excellence in Public Policy Awards. The honorees—including seven professionals from the field of community-based intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) services, as well as The Honorable Margaret Hassan, United States Senator for New Hampshire—will be recognized in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, October 10, at ANCOR’s 2023 Policy Summit & Hill Day.

The Honorable Margaret Hassan, United States Senator for New Hampshire, is the recipient of ANCOR’s 2023 Congressional Legacy Award. Senator Hassan is only the second congressional champion to earn ANCOR’s highest public policy distinction. The award, which was first bestowed in 2021 (to The Honorable Robert Casey, United States Senator for Pennsylvania), recognizes an elected official whose career-long support for community providers has left an indelible mark on the ability of people with I/DD to be included in their community thanks to sensible public policy.

Two professionals will be honored as the recipients of the 2023 Suellen Galbraith Award for Excellence in Public Policy. Named after the public policy professional who led ANCOR’s government relations work for several years before her untimely death in 2015, the Suellen Galbraith Award recognizes the contributions of advocates who have had a significant impact on advancing ANCOR’s public policy agenda in the past year. Honorees this year include Josh Rael, executive director of Alliance in Denver, Colo., as well as Ralph Lollar, who is being honored posthumously. Lollar directed the Division of Long-Term Services & Supports on behalf of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services until his own untimely death at the end of 2022.

The recipient of the 2023 Diane McComb State Association Star Award is Laura Howell, executive director for the Maryland Association of Community Services in Columbia, Md. The Diane McComb Award recognizes the role of a state provider association leader in advocating for the transformation of community-based I/DD services. It is named for a long-time disability services professional who gained a reputation nationally for her work to cultivate a thriving network of disability service provider associations at the state level.

Darlene Scott, president and chief executive officer for The Phoenix Residence in St. Paul, Minn., and Cheryl Wicks, vice president of government relations for Omaha, Neb.-based Mosaic, are the recipients of the 2023 Bonnie-Jean Brooks Rising Star Award. This award—named for a pioneer who continues to drive the field forward through her advocacy even two years after her retirement—recognizes emerging leaders who are redefining community-based disability services for the next generation.

Finally, ANCOR’s newest honor, the Grassroots Star Award, recognizes the contributions of provider organizations or disability services professionals to a grassroots advocacy effort that has the potential to substantially enhance the lives of people with I/DD. The two recipients of the 2023 Grassroots Star Award are Laura Cordes, executive director for the Maine Association for Community Service Providers in Hallowell, Maine, and Michael Seereiter, president and chief executive officer for the New York Alliance for Inclusion & Innovation in Albany, N.Y.

Barbara Merrill, chief executive officer for ANCOR, commented on this year’s class of Excellence in Public Policy honorees, stating, “As always, the public policy environment in which community providers operate has continued to be more challenging and more unpredictable than ever before. And yet, ANCOR continues to find ways to bring people together and deliver results for people with I/DD, as well as the community providers that are often their only bridges to community. None of that would be possible without the commitment of outstanding congressional champions like Senator Hassan, nor without the unrelenting advocacy of the seven outstanding members of the ANCOR community who are truly moving the needle when it comes to progress for community disability services.”

Members of the press interested in attending the 2023 Excellence in Public Policy Awards presentation on Capitol Hill should email Sean Luechtefeld, ANCOR’s Vice President for Membership & Communications, no later than Friday, October 6.


For more than 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 nearly 2,100 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.