Champions of Equal Opportunity Awards

Each year, NACDD presents two awards both entitled “Champions of Equal Opportunity,” or CEO. The first is given to a national policymaker with outstanding leadership and commitment to policy that supports equal rights for people with disabilities.  The second is presented to a self-advocate who has been nominated by his or her DD Council as someone who shares and promotes NACDD’s values of self-determination, independence, productivity and inclusion.

In the past couple of years we have sadly lost two of our advocate awardees.  Ms. Betty Williams received the Champion of Equal Opportunity Award in 2016, and passed in 2018.  Because we want to continue to honor the extraordinary work that Betty had done in her career and her life, we are renaming the Champion of Equal Opportunity award to the Betty Williams, Champion of Equal Opportunity Award. 

Ms. April Dunn was our 2019 recipient of the Start Your Journey Award.  We sadly lost April in the Spring of 2020 to the COVID-19 pandemic.  After conversations with her family, we have chosen to honor her memory and her work by renaming the award “The April Dunn, Start Your Journey Award.”  We are confident that any recipients of either award will carry on the memory of both extraordinary women and advocates. 

Our CEO Award recipients are listed below:


Betty Williams Champion of Equal Opportunity Award: Tameka Citchen-Spruce
April Dunn Start Your Journey Award: Hasan Ko


Betty Williams Champion of Equal Opportunity Award: Sarah Carmany
April Dunn Start Your Journey Award: Jena Crafton


Betty Williams Champion of Equal Opportunity Award: Heidi-Lieb Williams
April Dunn Start Your Journey Award: Jessica Barrett


National Policy Maker Award: Senator Mary Landrieu
Champion of Equal Opportunity Award: Max Barrows
Start Your Journey Award: April Dunn


National Policymaker Award: Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania)
Self-Advocate Award: Ken Capone, Maryland
Start Your Journey Award: Scott Lindbloom, Arizona


National Policymaker Award: STABLE Accounts with the Ohio Treasurer’s Office
Self-Advocate Award: Ross Ryan, Oregon


National Policymaker Award: Michael K. Yudin
Self-Advocate Award: Betty Williams, Indiana


National Policymaker Award: Senator Harry Reid, Nevada
Self-Advocate Award: Chris Blake, Connecticut


National Policymaker Award: Senator John Barrasso, Wyoming
Self-Advocate Award: Eric Stoker, Utah


National Policymaker Award: Governor Jack Markell, Delaware
Self-Advocate Award: Santa Perez, Nevada


National Policymaker Award: Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut

Leadership Circle

At the 2014 Annual Conference, the Leadership Circle for Self-Advocates was established. The purpose of the Circle was to create an entry point for the many highly talented self-advocates identified by DD Councils to become more involved in the work of NACDD. As a national organization, we want to be sure that the voice of those who live with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is included in every aspect of our work. All too often, we have found ourselves creating committees and work groups saying, “Do we have self-advocates or individuals with DD on that group?” and often the same 3 individuals would volunteer. By establishing the Circle, we have a ready group of highly qualified and available voices to join every committee and group within NACDD to ensure a strong advocate voice. In the two years since its’ creation, the members of this Circle have helped write “The Art of Impact,” served on multiple committees and helped to write grant opportunities. The Leadership Circle is not a standalone committee with its own agenda, but a portal to serving in all meaningful roles in NACDD’s work. The names below are the current members of the Leadership Circle:

Anna Attla, Alaska

Jessica Barrett, Nebraska

Max Barrows, Vermont*

Kathy Bates, New Hampshire

Cynthia Bentley, Wisconsin

Shiloh Blackburn, Idaho

Christopher Blake, Connecticut

Diana Braun, Illinois

Adonis Brown, North Carolina

Cole Browne, Kansas

Ken Capone, Maryland

Sarah Carmany, Michigan

Staci Christensen, Utah

Tameka Citchen-Spruce, Michigan

Monica Cooper, Arizona

Jena Crafton, Alaska

Brendan Darnell, Kansas

Morgan Davis, Oklahoma

Lillian DeJean, Oklahoma

April Dunn, Louisiana

Janice (Cathy) Enfield, Missouri

Jason Gieschen, Nebraska

Corey Gilmore, Alaska

Curtis Harris, Illinois

Kristyn Herbert, Idaho

Kelly Holt, Utah

Sandy Houghton, Massachusetts

Clancey Hopper, Tennessee

Tina Jackson, Kentucky

Jennifer Karner, Oklahoma

Aaron Kaufman, Maryland

Hasan Ko, Vermont

Sydney Krebsbach, Alaska

Marisa Laios, Virginia

Russell Lehmann, Nevada

Kathy Leigh, Florida

Heidi Lieb-Williams, Alaska

Scott Lindbloom, Arizona

William Lovell, Tennessee

Renee Manfredi, Hawaii

Stirling Peebles, Vermont

Santa Perez, Nevada

David Pinno, Wisconsin

Carrie Raabe, Arizona

Robbie Reedy, Minnesota

Tricia Riccardi, Florida

Ross Ryan, Oregon

Matt Shapiro, Virginia

Aaron Snyder, Wyoming

Lindsay Spoon, Oklahoma

Kit Stahlberg, Missouri

Eric Stoker, Utah

Erlinda (Lynn) Tydingco, Guam

Nancy Ward, Oklahoma

Betty Williams, Indiana

Andre Williams, Massachusetts

Devin Williams, Oklahoma