Gary Smith Scholarship for Public Managers

The Gary Smith Scholarship for Public Managers was established by the NASDDDS Board of Directors in honor of Gary Smith, an extraordinary leader in the developmental disabilities field who was intensely committed to making state government developmental disability agencies effective at delivering good service and achieving positive outcomes for people. Gary served in senior management positions in the states of Illinois and Colorado. As the Director of Special Projects for NASDDDS from 1987 to 2001 and an expert in state operations and the use of Medicaid to fund services, Gary was well known for confronting state agencies with respectful criticism and the challenge to perform better and helping them do so.

The Gary Smith scholarship supports the participation of professionals working in state government I/DD agencies in the University of Delaware National Leadership Consortium twice during each year.

For more information about the Gary Smith Scholarship.

Award for Crystal Thomas

Crystal Thomas

Program Manager                                                                                                                             DC Department of Disability Services                                                                                            Office of Policy, Planning and Innovation

Previously to her role at DDS, Crystal worked in Arlington County Department of Human Services for over ten years where she was responsible for development and implementation of policies and procedures, coordinating with partner agencies in the community and at the state and federal level, representing the agency at public meetings.  Prior to joining Arlington County, Crystal had three years’ experience with an IDD provider in DC as the Director of Operations.  Crystal began her human services career while she was still in college, as a youth counselor at the National Center for Children and Families.  She received a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park; a Master’s Degree in Human Sciences and Psychology from Hood College; and a Master of Public Administration from George Mason University. 


Award for Katherine Becker

Katherine Becker

Policy Administrator II
Nebraska Division of Developmental
Department of Health and Human Services

Katherine joined the Nebraska Division of Developmental Disabilities as the Policy Administrator in June 2016. She oversees the management of two Medicaid Home and Community-Based Developmental Disabilities Services Waivers, internal and external communications, regulations, and provider relations. Prior to this position, she worked in the Nebraska Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care, working with Medicaid eligibility and case management, and Division of Children and Family Services working with economic assistance programs such as the SNAP program, Energy Assistance, ADC/TANF, and Child Care. Katherine has been with the state of Nebraska since 2011. She graduated from Chadron State College with a degree in psychology and minor in human biology in 2010.

Award for Samantha Hynes MSW, MPH

Samantha Hynes MSW, MPH

Community Capacity Manager
South Dakota Department of Human Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities

Sam has 10 years' experience working with Medicaid Waiver programs. In 2015, Sam became the community capacity manager with the South Dakota Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities. As community capacity manager, her main focus has been the development of crisis supports as well as implementation of shared living. Prior to moving to South Dakota, Sam lived in Florida where she was a case manager for adults diagnosed with HIV, and previous to that she lived in Colorado where she was a case manager for adults and children with ID/D. Sam holds two masters degrees; one in public health and the second in social work with an emphasis in organizational and community development.

Award for Lisa Ott

Lisa Ott

Regional Director
Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration

Lisa joined the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration in March of 2017 to lead one of Maryland’s four regional offices, supporting individuals, families and providers through the central swath of the state. The central MD region includes Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard, Ann Arundel and Harford counties. Lisa comes to DDA by way of the private sector, where she spent thirty years building and managing children's programs in the areas of child welfare, mental health and special education. At Pressley Ridge, Lisa developed therapeutic foster care and in-home service programs in Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware and Ohio. At PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families, Lisa oversaw nonpublic, special education schools in Maryland and Virginia. Most recently, she led a special education association in Washington DC, advocating for a robust continuum of educational services for DC students with special needs. Her emphasis on building collaborative relationships with community stakeholders has led to many fruitful partnerships with families, government and community stakeholders.

Award for Jennifer Rodriguez

Jennifer Rodriguez

Community Programs Bureau Chief
New Mexico Department of Health
Developmental Disabilities Supports Division (DDSD)

Ms. Rodriguez has more than 20 years of experience in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities. She graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders. Jennifer began her career as a direct support professional and upon moving to New Mexico, worked as a developmental disabilities (DD) waiver case manager for more than 13 years before entering state government. Jennifer first held the role of the DDSD Statewide Case Management Coordinator, then the DD Waiver Program Manager and currently the Community Programs Bureau Chief, where she oversees the New Mexico DD Waiver, the Mi Via Self-Directed Waiver, the NM Case Management System, Provider Enrollment, and the clinical Outside Review process. She has been with DDSD for four years. 

Award for Curtis Cunninham

Curtis Cunninham

Assistant Administrator of Long Term Care Benefits and Programs
Division of Medicaid Services
Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Mr. Cunningham is responsible for the provision of long-term supports and services for the elderly and people with disabilities. Curtis administers and oversees the family care managed care program, IRIS self-directed long-term care program, several community-based Medicaid waiver programs, and support services for children with disabilities. Curtis has worked in Medicaid policy, finance, and eligibility for more than 15 years.

Award for Jennifer Fraker

Jennifer Fraker

Supports Coordination and Oversight Unit Director
Office of Developmental Programs
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

Ms. Fraker has been with the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) for eight years. Within her time at ODP, her hard work has advanced her to the current position of Supports Coordination and Oversight Unit Director. As unit director, Ms. Fraker is responsible for a kaleidoscope of projects ranging from oversight of County Programs, Providers and Supports Coordination Organizations to transition planning and even contract management of PA’s statewide needs assessment. Ms. Fraker's dedication to helping individual’s with intellectual disabilities is evidenced by her 20+ years in the field at varying levels. 

Award for Jennifer K Fales, LSW, MSW

Jennifer K Fales, LSW, MSW

Initiative Manager
Office of Aging & Disability Services
Maine Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS)

Ms. Fales has a B.A. in psychology and masters in social work. She currently works for state of Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services as the initiative manager in charge of clinical reviews, system and policy reform in one of Maine’s largest waiver programs for adults with intellectual disabilities and autism. She has more than 10 years of experience within DHHS in both child protection and adult services and spent two and half years in Australia working for the Department of Child & Family services before returning to Maine in 2013 and resuming work with DHHS in her current role.

Award for Jason Flint

Jason Flint

Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS)
Disability Services Division

Jason first joined DHS in 2007 as a policy staff for waiver quality management. After a brief period back in the private sector, he rejoined DHS in 2014 as a supervisor. Jason’s team has responsibility for community capacity building, and promoting positive supports and person-centered practices.

Award for Thomas Papa

Thomas Papa

Chief of Staff
New Jersey Department of Human Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities

Mr. Papa has been with the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) for more than six years. As chief of staff, he oversees DDD’s internal operations (fiscal, human resources, and information technology) for its $1.64 billion budget and more than 8,000 employees.

Award for Kai-Stefan Fountain

Kai-Stefan Fountain

Psychological Assistant
Delaware Health and Social Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities Services

Dr. Fountain has worked in the field of intellectual/developmental disabilities since 1990. He began his career as a direct care professional for a nonprofit agency operating residential homes. Dr. Fountain eventually became the project director of case management and quality assurance for the same agency. In 2001, he transitioned to his current position with the state of Delaware focusing on providing person-centered, positive behavior supports. Dr. Fountain received the degree of doctor of education in innovation and organizational leadership with the honor of outstanding academic excellence in the spring of 2015. His dissertation — "Perceptions of Leadership Qualities: A Study of Front-line Managers of Group Homes for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities" — is an exploration of front-line managers’ viewpoints of their leadership roles in enhancing the qualities of life for individuals. Dr. Fountain is devoted to improving the lives of individuals through promoting the philosophy of self-determination in all aspects of life.

I thank NASDDDS again for the wonderful opportunity granted to me in January 2015 at the Leadership Institute with honoring me with the Gary Smith Scholarship.

Award for Denise Sleeper

Denise Sleeper

New Hampshire Bureau of Developmental Services

Ms. Sleeper serves as the project director for the Granite State Employment Project, a cross systems grant designed to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Denise has dedicated her career to serving others by assisting them to move beyond poverty through access to education, housing, appropriate support services, and empowerment.

Award for Valerie Yin

Valerie Yin

Division Planner
Hawaii State Department of Health
Developmental Disabilities Division

Valerie has been with the department for more than two years and works as the division planner responsible for legislation and regulations, strategic planning, statewide DD policies. She also has experience in the private sector in hospitals and clinics and in a community health center, first as a registered health professional and then in administrative jobs.

Valerie's thoughts on the Leadership Institute "The Leadership Institute was excellent in providing professional and personal growth as a leader in I/DD. Everything from the preliminary reading assignments to the fun celebratory dinner at the end was carefully planned and orchestrated to allow the attendees to re-think their leadership styles and abilities to improve and hone their management skills. It has been nearly a year since I attended the institute and I continue to be engaged with those who attended the institute through the National Leadership Institute network. On a near daily basis, the network provides pertinent information and encouragement for leaders in I/DD."

Award for Barbara Ramsey

Barbara Ramsey

Division for Developmental Disabilities
Colorado Department of Human Services

Ms. Ramsey has worked in human services for approximately 30 years. Beginning as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for transitioning youth, another career highlight includes directing school based health services, implementing legislation for and administering a program to deliver Medicaid benefits in the public schools. Barbara has managed the community-based long-term care section at the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy, providing leadership for Medicaid funded community based long-term services and supports.

Award for James Martin

James Martin

Office of Aging and Disability Services(ODADS)
Maine Department of Health and Human Services

Mr. Martin has worked for the Department of Health and Human Services since 2008, beginning his department career with the Office of Child and Family Services. Most recently, he served as the Associate Director of Contracts and Community Partnerships with OADS. His experience includes managing and overseeing services for adults and children, directing agency work, building strong community relationships and formulating statewide policy.