The American Network of Community Options and Resources has announced that Mindi Nelson, a direct support professional at Johnson County Developmental Supports, has been named the recipient of the 2021 Kansas DSP of the Year award. Nelson joins 49 other recipients of ANCOR’s 2021 Direct Support Professional of the Year awards, chosen from a field of 350 outstanding nominees.
“Mindi has been a dedicated member of our team for 18 years and this recognition is rightly deserved,” said JCDS Executive Director Chad VonAhnen. “In the past year, our organization has had to adapt to ensure the safety of people served and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mindi played a vital role in supporting the agency. As one of our activity and volunteer coordinators, she worked tirelessly to ensure the individuals in service remained active, engaged and safe. We are so proud of her and grateful she chooses to serve Johnson County.”
Since 2007, ANCOR’s annual DSP of the Year awards recognize outstanding professionals who deliver long-term supports and services to people with IDD. The awards celebrate the important role DSPs play in ensuring individuals with IDD are included and empowered in the community, and raise awareness about a direct support workforce in crisis. Inadequate investments in this essential workforce have led to turnover rates in excess of 40 percent and vacancy rates that average 18 to 20 percent nationally.
“ANCOR and our Diamond Partner, Relias, co-present the DSP of the Year awards program each year precisely because of people like Mindi Nelson. Her commitment to ensuring the inclusion of people supported by JCDS enriches not only the lives of those individuals, but the broader Johnson County community at large. Without committed direct support professionals like Mindi and all of this year’s outstanding award recipients, people with IDD would have severely limited opportunities to be part of the community,” said ANCOR chief executive officer Barbara Merrill.
Heidi Mansir, president of the ANCOR Board of Directors and executive director for Uplift, Inc., in Gardiner, Maine, stated, “ANCOR presents the [Direct Support Professional of the Year Awards] annually precisely because of the important but often unrecognized work DSPs are doing to support people with disabilities to be included in the community. We are immensely proud of Mindi Nelson for the work they’re doing in their community. Mindi truly exemplifies excellence in the profession.”
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