Ben Censoni Award for Excellence in Public Service

Ben CensoniThe Ben Censoni Award for Excellence in Public Services is the only award that recognizes public officials who strive to improve the lives of people with devel

opmental disabilities. The award is named after the late Ben Censoni, former developmental disabilities director for Michigan and chair of the association’s Governmental Affairs Committee.

Ben Censoni was not successful because of his intelligence and charm, but because of his persistence — his “press on regardless” attitude — and this kind of pressing stimulates ingenuity. He was energetic. He was honorable. He had conviction. He was resilient. He was not just an advocate — he was a champion. Given a little time, he always came up with a good tactic to use, even with the most thorny problems. But more than anything, I admired him most because he was optimistic.

Jerry Provencal, Director of Macomb Oakland Regional Center in Michigan

Ben's motto was “people are what really matter.”


The NASDDDS Board of Directors uses the following criteria to select recipients of the Ben Censoni Excellence in Public Service Award: 

  1. (a) An employee of federal, state, county, or municipal government in a position directly related to persons with developmental disabilities; or (b) a federal, state, or local elected official.
  2. An optimistic, forward-thinking person whose energy is focused on propelling service systems toward positive changes, and  who recognizes a system that is evolving and is able to help it move in a positive, planful direction. Furthermore, the person should have a proven capability to establish and achieve ambitious goals. 
  3. A person whose work evidences (as Ben’s did) a strong personal and professional commitment to human dignity and community integration for persons with developmental disabilities, especially individuals with severe disabilities.
  4. An individual who has made one or more noteworthy contributions to the organization and delivery of developmental disabilities in the United States.
  5. Someone who equips his or her colleagues to make a difference and offers them the tools and resources they need to succeed. He or she should personify Ben’s belief that “people are what really matter."

Censoni Award Recipients

Award for Gail Grossman, M.S.S.A

Gail Grossman, M.S.S.A

November 2016, Gail Grossman, M.S.S.A. Former Assistant, Commissioner for Quality Management for the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services.  Pictured- (Robin Cooper, NASDDDS Director of Technical Assistance (far left), Bernie Simons, NASDDDS Board President, (Second from left), Award Recipient, Gail Grossman, (third from left), Mary Lee Fay, NASDDDS Executive Director, (third from right), Rie Kennedy-Lizotte, NASDDDS Director of Employment Policy, (second from right), Dr. William Kiernan, Ph.D. Dean, Professor, School of Global Inclusion, Director of Social Development, Insititute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts, Boston. 

Award for Laura Nuss

Laura Nuss

June 2016 Laura Nuss, Senior Advisor, Foot Hold Technologies. Pictured- Mary Lee Fey, NASDDDS Executive Director, (on left), Second from left Nancy Thaler, Deputy Secretary Pennsylvania, Laura Nuss (far right), and Bernie Simmons, President, NASDDDS Board of Directors (on right).

Award for Jane Gallivan

Jane Gallivan

November 2015 Jane Gallivan, Director of the Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.  Pictured- Mary Lee Fey, NASDDDS Executive Director, (on left), Jane Gallivan (Center), and Laura Nuss, President, NASDDDS Board of Directors (on right)..

Award for Governor Jack Markell

Governor Jack Markell

NOVEMBER 2013  Governor Jack Markell, the Honorable Governor of Delaware and 2012-2013 Chair of the National Governors Association (NGA). Pictured - Jane Gallivan, President, NASDDDS Board of Directors (on left) and Governor Jack Markell (on right).

Award for James Nicholson

James Nicholson

MAY 2013 James Nicholson, Division Administrator (retired), Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Services Division. Pictured - Jane Gallivan, President, NASDDDS Board of Directors (on left), James Nicholson (center), and Nancy Thaler, NASDDDS Executive Director (on right).

Award for Mary Lee Fay

Mary Lee Fay

NOVEMBER 2012 Mary Lee Fay, Administrator (retired), Oregon DHS Office of Developmental Disability Services. Pictured - Mary Lee Fay.

Award for James Toews

James Toews

MAY 2011 James Toews, Director, Oregon Department of Human Services. Pictured - James Toews (on left) and Mary Lee Fay, President, NASDDDS Board of Directors (on right).

Award for Linda Rolfe

Linda Rolfe

NOVEMBER 2010 Linda Rolfe, Director, Washington State Division of Developmental Disabilities. Pictured - Linda Rolfe (on left) and Kenneth Ritchey, President, NASDDDS Board of Directors (on right).

Award for Kathy Kliebert, Edwin C. LeGrand, III & Barry C. Waller

Kathy Kliebert, Edwin C. LeGrand, III & Barry C. Waller

MAY 2008 Kathy Kliebert (Louisiana), Edwin C. LeGrand, III (Mississippi), and Barry C. Waller (Texas) — "for their efforts in recovering from Hurricane Katrina." Pictured - Barry Waller (on left), Sandy Rogers (accepting for Edwin C. LeGrand, III) and Kathy Kliebert (on right).

Award for Jon Peterson

Jon Peterson

NOVEMBER 2007 Jon Peterson, State Representative of Ohio’s 2nd House District. Pictured - Kenneth Ritchey, President, NASDDDS Board of Directors (on left) and Jon Peterson (on right).

Award for Gerry Morrissey

Gerry Morrissey

MAY 2007 Gerry Morrissey, former Commissioner of the Massachusetts DMR. Pictured - Gerry Morrissey (on left) and Stan Butkus, President, NASDDDS Board of Directors (on right).