Michael Smull COMPASS Award Winner

Michael has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the field of developmental disabilities and provided valued guidance to state policy makers. As far back as the 1980s, Michael understood that to have an impact on the lives of people with developmental disabilities, it was necessary to work with public systems responsible for providing services.

Collaboration with state agencies expanded in 1992 when Michael and Susan Burke Harrison wrote Supporting People with Severe Reputations in the Community as a NASDDDS publication. The effort to assist states in supporting people who were challenging and needed attention to their specific needs if they were to succeed, Michael and Suzie Harrison began to develop Essential Life Style Planning — a person-centered planning process developed to effectively transition individuals from institutional environments to the community. It quickly became a plan focused on day-to-day life, and how support was delivered daily.

Michael’s approach to person-centered planning evolved over the years as he collaborated with others. Michael has demonstrated through his own actions that we can all learn from each other in all circumstances. By the late 1990s, Michael realized that person-centered planning needed to start with person-centered thinking. By 2001, along with Bill Allen, Mary Lou Bourne, and Helen Sanderson of the U.K. he helped to found the Learning Community for Person-Centered Practice, an international learning collaborative that works to further develop person-centered practices, train others, and guard the integrity of the person-centered approach.

NASDDDS extends sincere congratulations to Michael for all of his contributions!