Laura Nuss 2016 Ben Censoni Aware Winner
The Ben Censoni Award for Excellence in Public Service is the only award that recognizes public officials who strive to improve the lives of people with developmental 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.
Ms. Laura Nuss. Laura has more than 30 years of experience supporting people to achieve valued personal outcomes and employment from her work in Pennsylvania spending 15 years in the private sector, followed by public service in North Carolina, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia. As the former director of the D.C. Department on Disability Services, she spearheaded transformative systems change in both the I/DD and VR service delivery systems helping to establish D.C. as a leader in person-centered thinking, E1st, HCBS best practice in I/DD services and early implementation of WIOA.
Laura was the first leader of I/DD services in the District to stay on the job beyond 10 months, and more than eight plus years guided the agency through a progression of organizational and systems change efforts to establish robust performance management and quality assurance and improvement systems, HCBS waiver reforms and legislation to reform the I/DD service delivery system and set the stage to end the 40-year-old class action litigation now known as Evans v. Bowser.
As the Director of a combined IDD and VR agency, Laura also ensured people with Intellectual and developmental disabilities had full access to VR services. She designed innovative HCBS services to ensure wrap around supports were available to promote employment and inclusion in advance of the HCBS settings rule, and increasing numbers of people year-over-year obtained employment directly through the VR agency. The District’s efforts over her tenure resulted in a 40 place jump in the UCP Inclusion rankings from 48th to 8th in the nation and Laura was selected as an ODEP Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program state ambassador in 2015.
Laura currently serves as a Senior Advisor with Foothold Technology, an electronic health record and case management solutions company for human services based in New York City, and will continue to seek ways to support state agencies and provider organizations to help people achieve meaningful, valued inclusion in their communities and employment goals.
It is my pleasure to offer this award to Ms. Laura Nuss!