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Statewide Disability Council Honors Four Disability Advocates

Four North Carolina leaders in disability advocacy were honored by the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD) for its annual Advocacy and Leadership Awards. The Council established its Advocacy and Leadership Awards to honor three leaders in the disability community who passionately worked and continue to work to build a better North Carolina for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

The North Carolina Leadership Achievement Award, which recognizes an outstanding North Carolina self-advocate whose work has improved the quality of life for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (I/DD), was awarded to Suvya Carroll of Durham, NC. A self-advocate who has cerebral palsy, Carroll has served as an unofficial consultant on accessibility in Durham, NC by identifying barriers to access in local churches, nonprofits and restaurants. Her attention to accessibility details has resulted in her church, CityWell, putting in a paved parking lot and a wheelchair-accessible elevator.

The Jack B. Hefner Memorial Award honors family members or volunteers who are advocating and building a better North Carolina for people with I/DD. This award was presented to Deborah Woolard and Bill Donohue of Winston-Salem, who have served on the boards for Disability Rights NC, the Arc (both state and local chapters), and the Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network. For years they have been involved with planning Forsyth County’s Buddy Walk supporting the Down Syndrome Society. The two started and remain active in the North Carolina Innovations Waiver Action Committee. Both Woolard and Donohue are working on the North Carolina registry of unmet needs on behalf of individuals with disabilities, bringing attention to the issue through social media posts as well as holding a live rally last March with over 100 legislators, media, and North Carolinians in attendance.

The Helen C. "Holly" Riddle Distinguished Service Award recognizes professionals who have made lasting contributions towards improving opportunities, breaking down barriers and promoting increased quality of life for people with I/DD in North Carolina.

Receiving this award is Betsy MacMichael, the Executive Director for First In Families of NC (FIFNC), who notes the state of North Carolina that is “First in Flight” and “First in Freedom” should certainly be “First in Families.” MacMichael began to find ways to break down barriers for individuals with disabilities and has guided FIFNC over the years to where it now supports over 2,500 families impacted by I/DD.

She is the mother of Janie Desmond, a young adult with I/DD. Together they speak throughout the area about the importance of inclusion, self-determination, and contribution. MacMichael currently serves as Community Co-Chair of the Olmstead Plan Stakeholders Advisory Committee, as well as on the Supported Living Action Team, the Rethinking Guardianship initiative, and the Family Supports Community of Practice Collaborative.

NCCDD honors the significant contributions made by advocates who are actively working to change attitudes and support greater choices for a more inclusive North Carolina. The awards are presented during the November meeting of NCCDD.

About North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities:

The North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD) works to assure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity and inclusion in all areas of community life. The Council identifies problems facing its community through its five-year planning process and funds innovative projects and initiatives that promote the goals of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) for all North Carolinians.

The article was published in the The Caswell Messenger on 12/1/2020.


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North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities

820 South Boylan Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27603
919-527-6500 (voice/tdd)
800-357-6916 (voice/tdd)
800-357-6916 (TTY)
919-850-2915 fax

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