2017 – Pioneer Award

Sharon Oxx, RN, CDDN

Webster’s defines the word pioneer for us as:

The first to prepare a way;

To take part in the beginning of;

To lead the way for others;

Being the earliest, original, first;

As we reflect on the twenty-five year history of DDNA, it is not difficult to identify individuals who embody these attributes. And while we must each do our part to elevate and preserve our association, we must do so with the understanding that we are already standing upon the shoulders of the trailblazers and pioneers who first conceived of an organization dedicated to the working professionals in this specialized field.

Breathing life into an association that would grow beyond any geographic borders, was, and in many cases, still is a daunting task. The earliest members and officers worked tirelessly to secure the funding and resources DDNA would need to sustain itself. From conception, one individual accepted the responsibility of directing the association, marshaling support from the healthcare community, and overseeing the development of the principles that have become the bedrock of who we are as an association.

It is only when we look back over the span of years that we are able to recognize that which is now our heritage, those things that were handed down one generation to the next. As we look back at those earliest days at what would become DDNA, we do so with the acknowledgement that the vision of what the association could become, and the ideals that set its members apart from other specialties, was there from the beginning, as was the individual we honor tonight with this award.

As a founding member and first president of DDNA, Sharon Oxx’s contribution to DDNA is incalculable. Her vision and indefatigable desire to see our association become a reality uniquely qualified her to guide DDNA through those fragile early years. Her leadership and direction were essential in the development of the Standards of Practice for DD Nursing and the certification examination in DD nursing required for RNs and LPNs. She is a registered nurse of over 40 years, 30 of them in the direct service of developmental disabilities. And, she is a nationally known speaker on DD related issues.

If there is an essential quality shared among all pioneers regardless of their endeavor, it would most certainly be that they must possess vision. They must have the ability to look into the future and fix their gaze upon something that does not yet exist.  We are twenty-five years into that future now, and it our most fervent hope that Sharon is happy with what you see.

2011 Chapter/Network Achievement Award

At the 2011 Conference Recognition Dinner, Judith Stych, DDNA’s Chapter/Network Chairperson, had the pleasure of presenting the 2011 Chapter Network Award to the Southwest Texas Chapter of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association. As DD nurses, we are continually faced with unique challenges in our ability to uphold the dignity and quality of life for the people we serve. Reflecting on the challenges of life, Albert Schweitzer is quoted as saying, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” The Southwest Texas Chapter of DDNA is the 2011 recipient of the DDNA Chapter/Network Achievement Award, and is a bright example of a spark lighting the flame and rejuvenating our passion for the important and meaningful work we do in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities of all ages.

Our 2011 recipient is a very young member of the DDNA family of Chapters and Networks. Though small in number they are big in their mission… to educate the next generation of nurses by networking with multiple schools of nursing in their area and… to advocate for legislation to support quality care and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families who reside in their state… to support certification of DD nurses through development of a web-based study group.

Further, our 2011 recipient is actively reaching out within their community to enhance the quality of life for individuals with special needs by sharing their time and resources with their local ARC organization and with Kinetic Kids (, which annually provides sports and recreation programs to over 1200 children with special needs. Also sharing with Camp CAMP (Children’s Association for Maximum Potential) (, which is a camping program with the mission to strengthen and inspire individuals with special needs and those who care for them through recreation, respite, and education. And especially with Morgan’s Wonderland (, which is the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park designed specifically for children and adults with special needs, their family members, caregivers, friends and the entire community so that through the spirit of inclusion people of all abilities can play, learn, and share life changing experiences together in a fun and safe environment.

Therefore, recognizing the challenges of initiating and maintaining DDNA Chapters and Networks in the midst of economic changes and health care reform, the DDNA Board of Directors is pleased to congratulate the Southwest Texas Chapter of DDNA as our 2011 recipient of the Chapter/Network Achievement Award for their exemplary efforts in establishing a new Chapter and actively kindling the flame of DDNA’s mission to advance nursing knowledge and expertise toward optimal quality of life for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Congratulations to the Southwest Texas Chapter of DDNA!

How to nominate a chapter/network

Every active regional chapter/network promotes developmental disabilities nursing and contributes to the success of DDNA. Chapters/Networks contribute to the professional development of DD nurses by serving as resources, providing on-going education, and promoting the role of the nurse in supporting persons with developmental disabilities. They also contribute to the success of DDNA by informing nurses about and encouraging membership in DDNA, promoting certification in the field of DD nursing, and sharing experience with others at DDNA conferences. DDNA recognizes the support that the chapters/networks provide, both to the Association and to the practicing DD Nurse. This award is made to honor a chapter/network that has been outstanding in its efforts.

DDNA Chapters and Networks make vital contributions every day to nurses in the field of developmental disabilities and to the people for whom we provide care. Some examples include:

  • Successfully changing the requirements for nursing positions at an agency to require professional certification.
  • Successfully changing the regulations to require certification of RNs or LPNs who complete certain tasks/responsibilities.
  • Providing annual continuing education programs/conferences.
  • Establishing a practice protocol to address a specific DD issue in your area.
  • Collaborating with another chapter/network to develop a product that will help nurses in the field.
  • Collaborating with other nursing organizations to develop standardized processes for nurses who provide supports to consumers with DD.

The DDNA Chapter/Network Achievement Award is given to an active chapter/network to acknowledge its contribution to and promotion of both DDNA and developmental disabilities nursing. DDNA’s Board of Directors will review nominations and select the recipient before the annual conference. The award will be presented during the recognition luncheon.

If you would like to nominate a chapter/network for the DDNA Chapter/Network Achievement Award, please submit the nomination to the DDNA office. Include the following information, in your submittal:

  • The name of the chapter/network.
  • Its location (city/area and state).
  • The date the chapter/network was established.
  • Specific contribution to/promotion of DDNA; and/or
  • Specific contribution to developmental disabilities nurses or to people with development disabilities.
  • Your name and contact information (email address and phone number)
  • Include the purpose of your submittal: Nomination for the DDNA Chapter/Network Achievement Award.

Send DDNA an email with the name of the chapter/regional network you would like to nominate, along with an explanation of how you believe this chapter/network has provided levels of excellence in the field of developmental disabilities nursing. Please use our contact form on the About Us page.

Mary Gage Award

DDNA’s Board of Directors is now accepting nominations for the Mary Gage Award, with the winner to be announced at the 2015 DDNA Annual Education Conference being held in Atlanta, GA. This award is named in honor of Mary Gage, RN, a founding member of DDNA. It is through her leadership and perseverance with the support of a task force from the New York State MR/DD Nurses Association that the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association evolved.

Selection Criteria

The nominee:

  • Has contributed significantly to the field of DD nursing.
  • Has persevered in improving the quality of care for persons with IDD.
  • Has demonstrated notable commitment to the DDNA organization.
  • Must be an active member of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association.

Nomination Format

To submit a nomination for this prestigious DDNA award, send the nominee’s name and mailing address, along with a statement describing how the candidate has satisfied the selection criteria. Please include your name, mailing address, contact telephone number, and your email address, if available.

The nomination may be mailed to: DDNA, 1501 South Loop 288, Suite 104 –  381, Denton, TX 76205 or faxed to (844) 336-2329. Nominations may also be emailed: [email protected]. Please put “Mary Gage Award Nomination” in the subject line of the email. If you have any questions about the nomination, please call DDNA at 800-888-6733.


Please submit your nomination by March 1, 2017. Nominations received after this date will not be eligible for consideration for the 2017 award.

Nursing exemplars

Do you know a nurse who exemplifies DDNA’s mission of advocacy, education, and caring? Send DDNA a short paragraph describing this nurse’s professionalism and efforts and we will share it with DDNA members in the next newsletter. By sharing examples of excellence, we all can learn to better our own practice. This is your opportunity to recognize an outstanding nurse. Send DDNA an email through our contact form on the contact page. Photos are welcome – please indicate that you would like to include a photo and we will contact you with instructions on how to send the image.

DDNA’s Nursing Exemplars

Ann Smith

AnnSmithThe 2010 Mary Gage award was presented to a nurse who truly exemplifies all the qualities DDNA looks for when selecting a recipient – Ms. Ann Smith. In the field of IDD nursing for more than 30 years, she has been employed in a variety of support settings, working collaboratively with the interdisciplinary team and always striving to provide the highest level of care and support to individuals with IDD. Ann has been a member of DDNA almost since its inception and has served DDNA in a number of ways – serving tirelessly at the network/chapter level and serving on the national Board of Directors for three years.

In 2000, Ann had a dream – and it was a dream that would ultimately come to fruition. Recognizing the value of and need for qualified healthcare professionals – and realizing the limited resources available to them – she considered a way to reach out to the IDD healthcare community. In some ways, Ann has always been a bit ahead of her time, and this was no different. She was committed to creating something that did not exist at the time – an international journal for nursing in intellectual and developmental disabilities – and she wanted to make that journal available to the world, free of charge.

In 2004, her dream was realized – and the first issue of the International Journal of Nursing in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities was published. The publication is an international peer-reviewed journal of the highest quality, with outstanding content in every issue. Remaining committed to educating the healthcare community, Ann continues to serve as the “Editor in Chief” for the publication.

Continuing her endless generosity, Ann “gifted” this journal to DDNA in 2008 – with one stipulation: That it remain available to everyone – not just DDNA members – free of charge. DDNA is honored and privileged to have Ms. Ann Smith as a member of the association and was delighted to have the opportunity to present her with the 2010 Mary Gage Award!

Congratulations, Ann!

View the International Journal of Nursing in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities online at

Order a printed and bound collection from the printer

Andrea Zimmerman

“I do not believe it is possible for a nurse to retire. It is an oxymoron! One nurse I met more than a decade ago, Andrea Zimmerman, lent her passion and expertise in administering excellent nursing care to hundreds of children 3 to 21 years of age with developmental disabilities at Bergen County Special Services. Andrea was also a thinker and educator who graciously offered to mentor me on her own time for a graduate nursing course. Andrea was there for everyone and somehow I selfishly thought she would always remain. Colleges and hospital programs will graduate many nurses this spring, but great nurses must be cultivated over time. Andrea Zimmerman is a great nurse.”

– Roberta Rana

Past Board Members

  • Joyce Binder, RN
  • Terry Broda, RN, BScN, NP-PHC, CDDN
  • Kenda Brown, LPN
  • Cathy Engel, RN, BSN, CDDN
  • Pat Fohrman, RN
  • Helena Haddad, RN, CDDN
  • Joan E. Hahn, RN, CS, DNSc, CDDN
  • Phyllis Jackson, RN, CDDN
  • Marilyn Junyor, RN, BSN, NHA, CDDN
  • Norma Lester, RNC, MS, MSN, FNP, CLNC
  • Mary Kay Moore, RN, BSN, MA, CDDN
  • Sharon Oxx, RN, CDDN
  • Lorene Reagan, RN, CDDN
  • Anne Reames, LPN, DDC
  • Kathy Service, C, RNC, MS, APRN, BS, CDDN
  • Ann Smith, MSN, RN, CDDN
  • S. Diane Moore, BSN, RN, CDDN
  • Judith Stych, BSN, RN, CDDN
  • Linda Tupper, MHA, BS, RN, CDDN
  • Richanne Cunningham, RN, CDDN
  • Kathy Brown, BA, RN, CDDN
  • Wendy Herbers, RN, CDDN, QDDP
  • Karen Green-McGowan, RN, CDDN