In every community, there exists a group of unsung heroes: direct support professionals whose dedication and compassion illuminate the lives of those they serve. Among these exceptional people are Dayna Lipscomb and Gail Wallace, shining examples of this invaluable group. 

Recognizing their remarkable contributions, ANCOR, the leading voice in Washington for community-based disability services providers, has announced Dayna Lipscomb as the recipient of the 2024 Maryland Direct Support Professional of the Year award and Gail Wallace as the recipient of the 2024 Massachusetts Direct Support Professional of the Year award. Dayna and Gail join 55 other honorees in the 2024 edition of ANCOR’s annual Direct Support Professional of the Year Awards program. This year’s awards garnered a record-breaking 492 nominations. 

“We are incredibly proud of Dayna and Gail for being awarded this prestigious honor,” says Lou Giramma, chief executive officer for Aspire. “They exemplify the transformative power of community-based supports, and we couldn’t be more grateful that ANCOR has recognized their dedication and compassion.” 

Dayna’s passion for advocacy and creativity knows no bounds. Shequita Williams, program manager at Aspire, describes her as a dynamo who ensures that the people she supports are empowered to make choices for themselves throughout their days. From organizing personalized celebrations to spearheading fundraising initiatives for the greater good, Dayna’s impact extends far beyond the confines of her workplace. Her commitment to inclusivity and joy infuses every aspect of her work, creating a nurturing and vibrant community for all. 

Similarly, with 25 years of service, Gail embodies the spirit of altruism and dedication. According to Marilyn Nyanyo, program manager at Aspire, Gail extends her helping hand even on her days off, volunteers eagerly for any task, and advocates tirelessly for those under her care. Gail’s commitment is evident in her initiative to undertake DDS human rights training fifteen years ago, enabling her to empower people with disabilities to advocate for themselves effectively. Her unwavering devotion and willingness to share her knowledge ensure that each person’s needs are met with understanding and compassion. 

Since 2007, ANCOR’s annual DSP of the Year awards recognize outstanding direct support professionals (DSPs) who deliver long-term services and supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The awards celebrate the important role DSPs play in ensuring people with I/DD have what they need to thrive and be included in the community.   

“DSPs really and truly do it all, and it’s no exaggeration to say that this year’s honorees deliver transformative and sometimes life-saving supports to the people who accept their services,” said Barbara Merrill, chief executive officer for ANCOR. “People like Gail and Dayna and all 55 of the 2024 honorees are perfect reminders of why ANCOR works tirelessly to advocate on behalf of the direct support workforce and the incredible work our DSPs do to support people in community.” 

The awards ceremony where Gail, Dayna, and the other 2024 honorees will be recognized takes place in Santa Fe, N.M., on Wednesday, April 10 at 10:30 am ET during ANCOR Connect ’24, the association’s annual conference.  

Careers, News

Dayna Lipscomb and Gail Wallace Named Direct Support Professionals of the Year by ANCOR