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Congratulations to John F. Kennedy Jr. Award Winner: Tony Thomas

2019 John F. Kennedy Jr. Award for
Direct Support Workforce Advocacy & Leadership

Tony Thomas
Executive Director,
Welcome House, Inc.

The Board of Directors of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) are honored to announce that Tony Thomas will be recognized as the recipient of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Award for Direct Support Workforce Advocacy & Leadership for 2019.

Nominated by former awardee, Regis Obijiski and NADSP Vice Chair, Jeanne Farr, Tony is the Executive Director at Welcome House Inc., located in Cleveland, Ohio. He has created a culture that is entirely person focused for people whom they support and those who do the supporting. Beyond his work at Welcome House, he has been a distinguished, national champion for direct support workforce development for more than two decades.

Tony was an early board member of the early pre-incorporated years at NADSP, serving until 2013. During those 20 years, he was directly involved in nearly all of NADSP’s defining work; including the development of our original national credentialing program in 2007 and the creation of the Code of Ethics in 2000. In 2003, he co-founded the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (OADSP) where he served as its first board president and spearheaded the Ohio PATHS curriculum (DS-PATHS), a competency-based career path for direct support professionals where thousands have earned a statewide credential.

Our first John F. Kennedy Jr. Award winner, Dr. Amy Hewitt, says “This workforce champion, through his exemplary practice, has challenged his colleagues to embrace the NADSP and all that it stands for long before it became common sense.” Tony is highly regarded in Ohio and across the country as a leading voice for competency-based training and credentialing. “I tried to tie better wages for direct support professionals to credentialing.” That’s what Tony Thomas wants on his tombstone, according to Bethany Toledo, Executive Director of the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals. Bethany continued, “Honestly, Tony has said that publicly many times. We believe him because he has worked on this goal harder than anyone we know.”

Tony Thomas will be formally recognized in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio on September 6th during a special ceremony at the NADSP Annual Conference: The Fifth One. Please join us as we recognize and thank a true gentleman and steadfast champion of our work.

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