Shakopee caregiver Lisa Riley was recently honored as the American Network of Community Options and Resources Direct Support Professional of the Year for Minnesota.
Riley joined more than four dozen nationwide recipients of the award who were chosen from a field of nearly 350 nominees. The awards were presented at the ANCOR spring conference in Portland.
“I am thrilled and honored to accept this award,” Riley said in a press release. “We need tools to give everybody the opportunity to communicate what they want first. I really like inspiring my coworkers, too, when it comes to thinking about caring for the individual and what they may be needing.”
Riley has been with MSS, a Twin Cities non-profit that provides day services and programming for adults with disabilities, since 2014. In addition to her work providing direct support, she covers different programming activities and is the assistive technology coordinator. She began her career in social services as a special education paraprofessional with the Shakopee school district.
“MSS is overwhelmingly proud of Lisa, for her award recognition of course, but more importantly for her dedication and commitment to true community inclusion for the individuals we support,” MSS President/CEO Julie Johnson said in the release. “We cannot think of anyone who more clearly demonstrates the power of person-centered supports, and we’re so grateful that ANCOR has recognized Lisa with this high-profile honor.”
Awarded annually since 2007, ANCOR’s DSP of the Year awards recognize outstanding professionals who provide long-term supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The awards and the presentation at ANCOR’s Annual Conference were created to celebrate the important role DSPs play in ensuring individuals with I/DD can be included and empowered in their communities, and to raise awareness about a direct support workforce in crisis. Nationally, turnover rates near 50 percent amount to a significant shortage of DSPs.
“I started my career in the field of disability supports as a DSP, and so I know just how critical DSPs are to supporting individuals in their quest to live their best and most fulfilling lives,” ANCOR President Robert Budd said. “DSPs rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and for that reason I’m proud of our association for recognizing Lisa and all of her significant contributions to the lives of the individuals supported by MSS.”
ANCOR Chief Executive Officer Barbara Merrill added: “I often describe DSPs as community navigators. Far more than just caregivers, DSPs do it all. From navigating civic life to supporting individuals to create a sense of community around them, DSPs make magic in their communities every single day. These awards represent just a fraction of the recognition that individuals like Lisa deserve.”