Gary Smith Scholarship for Public Managers

About the Scholarship

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 intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) field who was intensely committed to making state government disabilities 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.

Recognizing the importance of public professionals to receive leadership training and for other participants to be involved with state leaders during leadership training, the NASDDDS Board of Directors approved an annual contribution to the Gary Smith Scholarship Fund to support the participation of participants from state government at the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities, held twice yearly. The scholarship fund in Gary Smith’s name is a legacy to support others who work for state, local, or the federal government in their pursuit to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families.

What is the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities?

This week-long, leadership development program is designed for both current executive-level leaders and emerging leaders. Participants may work in organizations that provide, advocate for, or fund supports for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families.

The focus of the Institute is on assessing and strengthening leadership skills, setting organizational direction, and understanding the future of the intellectual/developmental disabilities field.

For more information about the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities go to THIS LINK.

Who is Eligible?

Individuals working in state and local government agencies providing services and supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

What is Covered by the Scholarship?

The scholarship covers tuition and travel expenses.

View Past Award Recipients

Jason Cornwell (Summer 2022) is a Human Services Professional that has served persons with disabilities and their families in a variety of capacities throughout his professional career. He strives to advance systems of care to be more responsive, flexible, and person-centered. All people have the right to self-determination as they define it.

With values firmly rooted in his experiences as a Direct Support Professional in NM, IN, IL and NY- he has played integral parts in nearly every facet of service provision at both large and small community based providers as well as government. Experience in Case Management, Health Services, Respite and After-school Services, Family Support Services, Clinical Services, Service Coordination, Staff Development and Training, Leisure Services, Residential Services, Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement, Customized Community Supports and Customized Integrated Employment Services, Marketing and Fundraising, Board Development, Facilities Maintenance, and Strategic Development. Currently, as Director of the Developmental Disabilities Supports Division for the State of New Mexico, he is honored to lead a division comprised of 180 dedicated professionals statewide whom serve over 8000 New Mexicans living with IDD and their families by contracting with, regulating, and monitoring the service provision of over 200 community based providers.

Jennifer Garabedian (Summer 2022) has over 20 years of experience in human services.  Her career began in Vermont’s Developmental Disabilities Services system and then transitioned to a role working supporting children with special health needs, where she oversaw the Children’s Personal Care Services program with the Vermont Department of Health for approximately 15 years. Then she transitioned to a position with the state’s Fiscal Employer/Agent, managing the Medicaid Fiscal Management Services (FMS) division. 

This afforded her the opportunity expand her understanding of self- and surrogate-management and deepen her commitment to ensuring Vermonters’ access to the supports to have the most robust lives possible in their homes and communities.

Sandy Hunt (Winter 2022) joined the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in June, 2015 as the Administrator of Medicaid Care Management.  In Sandy’s current role as Bureau Chief at the Bureau of Developmental Services, she is responsible for the budget management, contract oversight, policy development, regulatory development and other statewide activities related to the delivery of Developmental Services within New Hampshire.  She is responsible for the oversight and provision of services to people in New Hampshire who qualify for Waiver Services through three of New Hampshire’s 1915 (c) Home and Community Based Services:  The Acquired Brain Disorder, Developmental Disability, or In Home Supports Waivers.

Erin McCollum-Hreczuch (Winter 2022) is the Chief Health Program Evaluator at the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Services and Hospitals (BHDDH) for the State of Rhode Island.  Erin is the Chief of the Office of Quality Improvement at BHDDH. Erin is responsible for designing, planning, and implementing performance improvement systems that integrate quality practices for the states agencies licensed by BHDDH.  She also ensures that regulations are followed and that safety protocols are in place. Erin worked to develop the Quality Improvement team and the process within the Office of Quality Improvement to ensure data collected by the quality team is effectively used to support continuous improvement throughout divisions. 

LaToya Chancey (Winter 2021) has served in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) field for over 16 years. She currently serves as the I/DD Team Lead for the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. Prior to joining the Division in October of 2017, she served as the Chief Clinical Officer at a private provider agency that served individuals with I/DD.

LaToya has a Bachelor of Science in Human Development & Family Studies, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She also has a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, as well as in Conflict Resolution. She is currently licensed as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate.

LaToya began as a direct care staff and has held several roles, including Qualified Professional and Clinical Director, with a focus on supporting individuals with co-occurring mental health diagnoses and/or behavioral challenges. She also has clinical experience supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Through these roles, she has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience with navigating the MH/IDD/SU system.

Jennifer La’a (Winter 2021) is the Branch Chief for the Hawaii Department of Health’s Developmental Disabilities Division’s Community Resources branch. She’s worked in a non-profit and State agency for disabilities services for the last 7 years and provider direct services for over 25 years. Jennifer has worked in non-profit environments with a constant commitment to social justice, civil, and human rights.

Kaleema Muhammad (Winter 2020) is a Program Administrator in the Program Development, Compliance and Policy Bureau at the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, where she has worked since 2016. As the Program Administrator of the Quality Assurance Unit, Kaleema’s responsibilities include performing extensive research on federal requirements, internal and external compliance, and policy development.

Prior to working at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Kaleema honed her relationship-building, problem-solving, and policy development skills as an administrative social worker for more than 20 years after spending almost 10 years in the United States Air Force.

Kaleema enjoys kayaking, reading, and spending quality time with her family in her spare time.

Tracey Cunningham-Martins (Winter 2020) Ms. Cunningham-Martins has over 30 years experience in the field of supported employment for individuals served by multiple state departments to include The Division of Developmental Disabilities, The Department of Veterans Affairs, state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies, and Ticket to Work. She has been the Director of Employment and Community Based Day Services, successfully assisting organizations in transformation projects and building successful employment teams, in multiple states until settling in Rhode Island as the Associate Director of Employment with the state. Other roles have included Essential Lifestyle Planning Coordinator, Transitional Services Coordinator, Grant Writer, Job Developer and Job Coach. Recently completing her master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Martins is CESP certified; a former Advisory Board President at the Department of Transitional Assistance; member of the Greater Boston Employment Collaborative; and former board member of New Bedford Arc and Yonkers Private Industry Council.