Alabama disability awards recognize excellence

Published 12:23 pm Thursday, October 5, 2023

By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

MONTGOMERY – The Arc of Alabama in conjunction with the Alabama Conference for Executives of the Arc presented the in-person 2023 Alabama disAbility Conference on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The Alabama Disability Awards recognized individuals who have helped make a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from across Alabama. 

The following are the winners of the 2023 Alabama Disability Awards:

-Lorenzo Brown of IS-Able Center,has been recognized as an “Agency of Distinction” has been recognized as an “Agency of Distinction.” provides exemplary support and demonstrates a commitment to community inclusion for people with disabilities. 

-Jerry Wade of Publix,has been recognized as an “Inclusive Employer” in honor of their being an Alabama employer with an exceptional record of providing inclusive community employment opportunities and accommodations for people with disabilities. 

-Corrie Merchant is recognized as the “Distinguished Advocate of the Year” in recognition of their being an individual whose advocacy has had a direct and significant impact on the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

-Colby Spangler,is recognized as being a “Self-Advocate of Distinction” was honored for being an outstanding self-advocate who has demonstrated leadership and promotes self-determination by being actively engaged in activities such as legislative advocacy, activities of a board of directors or city council, a speaker in public speaking engagements, activities of a civic group that promotes inclusion.

-Kevin White is recognized as an“Exemplary Educator” for her work as an Alabama educator who has demonstrated excellence in providing for the education of students with developmental and other disabilities.

-Eleanitta George is recognized as a “Distinguished Direct Support Professional” for her being one who ‘goes the extra mile’ in supporting people with disabilities in their community with a special emphasis on the values in the DSP Code of Ethics for Direct Support Professionals. 

-Chris Stewart was given the “National Award for Distinguished Service” for being an individual whose contributions have had a statewide and nationwide impact on the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the local, state, and national levels. 

-Mary Morton was awarded “Employee of the Year” in honor of her being a self-advocate who has demonstrated commitment to employment, is recognized by their employer as an exemplary employee and is a role model for other Self-Advocates in the pursuit of community inclusive employment.

-Audrey Bayne has been recognized as a “Promising Young Leader” in honor of her being an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership potential as seen in volunteer efforts on special projects or events that enhance opportunities for people with disabilities in their community. 

-Lane & Kathryn Hagan  have been named “Family of the Year” in recognition of a family having a member with intellectual and developmental disabilities who has been an inspiration to other families. 

-Erin Pier was named “Education Advocate of the Year” in recognition of being a policy leader in education whose advocacy has had a significant statewide impact on the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

-Representative Cynthia Almond and their staff was awarded “Legislative Advocate of the Year” in recognition of a legislator or legislative staff whose advocacy has had a significant impact on the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

-Senator Arthur Orr was awarded “Legislative Advocate of the Year” in recognition of advocacy that has had a significant impact on the quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

-Teena Miles was awarded “Rehabilitation Professional of the Year” in honor of a Rehabilitation Professional who has demonstrated commitment to advancing employment options for people with disabilities.