DSHS Assistant Secretary honored with national award

Developmental Disabilities Administration Assistant Secretary Evelyn Perez

Evelyn Perez may be in the twilight of her career, but the work she did for persons with developmental disabilities will continue long after she retires. In a letter addressed to her last week, the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services made her aware they voted unanimously to present her with the NASDDDS Censoni Award.

According to NASDDS Executive Director Mary Sowers, “the 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 developmental disabilities.”

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

The NASDDDS Board of Directors use a variety of criteria to select recipients of the award. The board felt Evelyn’s work it “to a tee.” Below are some of the criteria:

  • 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 direction. Furthermore, the person should have a proven capability to establish and achieve ambitious goals.
  • 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.
  • An individual who has made one or more noteworthy contributions to the organization and delivery of developmental disabilities in the United States.
  • 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.”

On behalf of DSHS — Congratulations, Evelyn! We cannot think of a more deserving colleague.

Perez announced earlier this year that she will retire at the end of April. The NASDDDS are looking for an opportunity to spotlight her award at a June event.

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