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What are the National APSE awards?

Each year, APSE honors individuals, organizations and employers for their individual and collective contribution to Employment First. 

APSE Employer Award 

To recognize businesses that value and demonstrate the importance of an inclusive workforce by employing people with disabilities.

Lois Curtis Award - Person with a Disability 

To recognize an individual’s personal achievement in advocating for inclusive, individualized, community-based employment and/or independent living. 

Lois Curtis paved the way for people with disabilities to live in their own communities while receiving the services they need after spending 18 years living in an institution.  Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson brought a case that rose to the level of the Supreme Court and the court decided that "unjustified isolation" of a person with a disability is a form of discrimination under Title II of the ADA.  This is known as the Olmstead Decision.

Public Policy Leader 

To distinguish an individual who has excelled in advocacy work around Employment First. The Public Policy Leader is someone who inspires others to make a difference by engaging with elected officials and key stakeholders in discussions to promote policies that support the mission of Employment First. 

Wendy M. Wood Award - Emerging Leader  

To recognize emerging leaders who are developing a vision and creating action toward full inclusion of citizens with disabilities in our society.   

Wendy M. Wood is the founding Executive Director of APSE.  To begin this organization took great vision, effort, determination and risk.  To honor her contribution to this organization and to the overall field of supported employment and Employment First, APSE’s Board of Directors established this award.  

Dave Hammis Innovation Award 

To honor Dave’s contributions to APSE and Employment First, this award is offered to individuals or organizations who demonstrate innovation in the area of technology, customized strategies, and/or self-employment for individuals with significant disabilities.

Dave Hammis was an incredible innovator in the field of community-based and customized employment.  His creativity and fresh approach to supporting people in inclusive workplaces---whether at a business or through self-employment---inspired many of us to see beyond the realities of what we thought possible.  To honor his contributions to APSE and to the overall field of customized employment, APSE has established this award. 

Rebecca McDonald Award 

To honor Rebecca’s contributions to APSE and the employment of people with disabilities, this award is presented to an APSE Chapter Leader who demonstrates exceptional leadership, tireless volunteerism and extraordinary commitment to the mission and vision of APSE within their state chapter.

Rebecca McDonald was a tireless advocate for supported employment and a dedicated friend and champion of APSE.  Rebecca deeply believed in the principles APSE was founded upon and she supported and encouraged others to give and share resources to make those principles a reality. She was one of supported employment’s greatest advocates and served APSE in various ways for 11 years as the founding Vice-President, President for three years, and was an officer for the APSE Foundation.

APSE Best Practice Awards - Organization

To recognize a provider organization that has successfully implemented strategies to support those with disabilities to work and further their career path in an inclusive workforce.

Certified Employment Support Professional™ (CESP) of the Year Award

To distinguish a Certified Employment Support Professional™ (CESP) who has excelled in raising awareness of the benefits of certification. The CESP of the Year is given to a current credential holder who advocates for competency among Employment Support Professionals and inspires others in their own professional development.