We are thrilled to announce that Katie Kelly, the program director of adult services in the Aspire Stratham office, has been honored with the prestigious Virginia Bowden Award by the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities (NHCDD). This award, named in memory of Virginia Bowden—a woman with a developmental disability who found her voice and became a leader in the advocacy movement—speaks to Katie’s remarkable contributions to the community.
Throughout her three-decade career, Katie Kelly has passionately supported and advocated for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Having worked in various roles, from a direct support professional (DSP) to program manager and program director for both community participation and residential supports, Katie has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to advocacy and full inclusion for the people she serves.
Katie’s dedication is evident in her continuous efforts to ensure that every person experiences a meaningful day, fully included in community life. She has spearheaded job opportunities, volunteer programs, travel experiences, music classes, wildlife encounters, art shows, photo portrait sessions, and numerous celebrations. Her commitment to fostering community engagement allows people of all abilities, communication styles, and support needs to access valued roles as employees, volunteers, citizens, and friends.
Ensuring the dignity and rights of all people are respected, Katie has stepped up to advocate when biased perceptions have influenced medical care judgments. She has actively educated individuals about their civil rights, leading to increased voter participation, advocacy involvement, and participation in important legislative matters. She supports people to change their circumstances if their services or housing are not to their liking, whether or not those changes make her work more challenging, and tirelessly advocates for individual budgets to ensure access to necessary supports for people to pursue their dreams.
“Congratulations to Katie on this well-deserved award! Her passion and unwavering dedication to people with developmental disabilities make her an exceptional leader,” said John Whittemore, senior director of program operations. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to NHCDD for recognizing her outstanding contributions with this honor.”
Shannon Cote, director of adult services, also expressed admiration for Katie’s achievements, stating, “Katie’s impact on the lives of those with developmental disabilities is immeasurable. Her advocacy, compassion, and commitment have truly made a lasting difference.”
Receiving the Virginia Bowden Award aligns Katie with a legacy of individuals dedicated to upholding the values dear to Virginia. Congratulations to Katie on this well-deserved honor!