Ben Censoni Award for Excellence in Public Service

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 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