Sharon Oxx, DDNA’s founding President, once said “We all know that if you want something done, you give it to a nurse.  But if you want something done right, you give it to a DD nurse!” 

Experienced DD nurses bring broad expertise not common to other areas of nursing practice.  Many of today’s DD nurses are the trailblazers of tomorrow, leading the specialty through demonstrated clinical excellence, dedication to the practice, and support and mentoring to other nurses in the specialty.   Following are some of those nurses who embody the principles of DD nursing – for today and tomorrow – each being a true example of excellence in the specialty of IDD nursing.

The Mary Gage Award is designed to honor an individual nurse practicing in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) nursing, who has contributed to the IDD nursing field and/or to the success of DDNA.  The recipient shall be a member in good standing in the association, demonstrating commitment to DDNA, and having made significant contributions to the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities nursing.

The 2018 Mary Gage Award was presented to Ms. Kathy Brown, Past President of the DDNA’s Board of Directors. Kathy is certified in the specialty of IDD nursing and has been a long-standing member and supporter of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association.  

Since joining the association, Kathy has remained an active member of DDNA, working collaboratively with the Boards of Directors and the association management to establish and promote the association.  Following her term as President, Kathy has continued to serve the association, currently serving as a Member Liaison to the Board of Directors.

Kathy works to invite everyone to belong to this association – passionately explaining why membership is vital – not just to the association, but also to the nurse individually.  She works with chapters and those interested in chapter formation, helping to organize chapter events – encouraging and supporting them convene meetings or provide education programs for nurses in the area – whatever it takes.

Kathy promotes DDNA at every turn – always approaching industry groups and vendors – telling them about the wonderful opportunity available through DDNA – both at the national conference and chapter events.

Someone once said, “You know, I think Kathy Brown loves DDNA more than anyone I know” – and I would tell you they were right!

To put it simply – Kathy Brown is DDNA – and DDNA is delighted to honor her with this long over-due Mary Gage Award.

DDNA extends sincere gratitude to Ms. Kathy Brown for her ongoing support of DDNA and her commitment to the association!

Every once in a while you meet someone special…  Someone who is always supportive, always helping to promote you, always has your back… Someone who always says “Yes, of course”, when you say “Can you…?”

In 2018, the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association and its Board of Directors wanted to take the opportunity to recognize someone who is that person – Ms. Nanette Wrobel.

Nanette is DDNA’s longest-standing associate member – an ever-present face at every DDNA conference.

She continues to serve as a consultant to the Certification Committee and Board during certification examination reviews and test item development.  She has provided countless education programs for DDNA members – both at DDNA’s national conference and at essentially every DDNA chapter in the country. We only had to ask!

Nanette is one of DDNA’s strongest allies and staunchest supporters in the challenging world of IDD. She always promotes the association to nurses and agency administrators, sharing DDNA’s mission and value for nurses working in the specialty of IDD and encouraging the nurses (and administrators) to belong to this great association. 

For her ongoing support of DDNA and her commitment to the association and its members, DDNA extends a very sincere “thank you” to Ms. Nanette Wrobel!

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.

  • 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
  • Karen Hill, BSN, RN, CDDN

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.

How to Nominate for an 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.

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.

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