Awards & Bursaries

Agency Award / Direct Support Professional Award


This awards program is designed to recognize and celebrate organizations and individuals who embody the very best qualities and practices in service provision to persons with a development disability. The core objective of the PN HR Committee is to improve the personal outcomes and quality of life of people and families supported. Organizations and direct support professionals nominated for this award will be able to demonstrate how their philosophy and work practices advance the goals of the Provincial Network HR Committee 



Make a Difference Every Day Award Winners 2021

Winner of the Direct Support Professional Award: Kara Feeley, Community Support Worker for Supported Independent Living Program with Community Living Prince Edward

Kara demonstrates the best support practices within Developmental Services, Kara exhibits commitment to promote, support and enable people to live their best lives. This is seen in the way she effortlessly supports people to: develop and master activities of daily living; participate and contribute to their community; explore and experience interests, hobbies, and passions; gain and maintain independence in all areas of their lives and facilitates learning, education, and training in areas of importance



Agency Leadership Award:  Shannon Teer from Chritian Horizons


During the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Shannon brainstormed and developed the Pandemic Emergency Response Team, also known as PERT, as a support to employees and people supported. She quickly developed this team and provided training and leadership to Program Managers and Direct Support Professionals, who volunteered for the PERT team. In the event that an employee tested positive for COVID-19, or a person supported was symptomatic, the PERT team was engaged and brought with them enhanced PPE. When called into a program, they trained the program employees in enhanced PPE as well as enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols.



Make a Difference Every Day Award Winners 2019

Congratulations Indu Radhakrishan for winning the Agency Leadership Award!

 Indu has made an enormous impact on the work of the DSHRS, here are a few examples of the work she has done:


•   Chair of the HR Metrics Committee – Champion in making the HR Metrics project happen. There is now a free tool for agencies to use across the province and has been instrumental in promoting and mentoring other HR Professionals on the tool
•   Core Competencies Champion and member of the Implementation Committee- Indu is star trainer and is always willing to train and be a resource for agencies
•   DSW Apprenticeship Program Task Group – Indu is very passionate about this program and has provided guidance to other agencies, Colleges and the College of Trades
•   Middle Management Task Group – Looking at Managers/Supervisors training and development
•   Was instrumental in providing feedback for the Workplace Learning and Development Guide
•   Member of the DSHRS Steering Committee 

In this Photo left to right: Christine Kuepfer (DSHRS Co-Chair), Indu Radhakrishan, Ann Bilodeau (DSHRS Co-Chair) 


Congratulations Anthonia Nwankor for winning the Direct Support Professional Leadership Award!



Anthonia trains and coaches youth and adults who have developmental disabilities in seeking employment. Anthonia received training funded by MCCSS at Aptus Treatment Centre to enhance her skills as a direct support professional and learn to be a job coach. 

In this Photo left to right: Christine Kuepfer (DSHRS Co-Chair), Anthonia Nwankor, Ann Bilodeau (DSHRS Co-Chair) 

Make a Difference Every Day Award Winners 2018

2018 Agency Award Winner: Parents for Community Living


Parents for Community Living uses the best practices and behavioural based interviews developed by the DSHRS to  ensurethat our employees are the right fit in the right positions in our agency.  Currently the agency is working towards changing job titles to align with the DS HR strategy - which is no small feat with all the policy changes required to ensure this progress.  Ithosted a staff retreat to engage employees at a stressful time of year (Christmas season) all because of leadership’s dedication to the DS HR Strategy!!   


2018 Direct Support Professional Leadership Award Winner: Adam Rideout-Arkell

Adam Rideout-Arkell has been a valued member of the CL Windsor  team for 13 years. He is also a member of the Core Competency Implementation Committee, a team of Direct Support Professional who are using their creativity to bring Core Competencies alive in the agency in new and exciting ways. After transferring to an area where various daytime opportunities are provided, Adam saw the untapped potential of a number of people we support and developed a proposal to start a content creation studio.  Adam discovered that one person in particular, Bob, is a great singer.  Adam was instrumental in helping Bob set up an appropriate platform on YouTube for the classic country karaoke style performances Bob loves, under the name of “Country Bob”.  Adam took a similar approach with a young lady who typically struggles with many issues.  Adam recognized her strengths though in her fashion/makeup sense, her incredible sense of humour and her rather pointed observations around life with a disability and has beautifully captured them in her regular YouTube releases.  

Make a Difference Every Day Award Winners 2017

Congratulations Winners of 2017 DS HR Strategy Leadership Awards!

Agency Award: Community Living Essex County

Group from Community Living Essex County accept leadership award



























 Direct Support Professional Award: Jessica Everett, Community Living London

Jessica Everett from Community Living London receives award for her work as a direct support professional

Make a Difference Every Day Award Winners 2016

Agency - VITA Services & North Community Networks of Specialized Care-Hands the Family Network

Direct Support Professional - Bonnie Reardon, Christian Horizons

Make a Difference Every Day Award Winners 2015

2015 DS HR Strategy Leadership Awards

(Agency Award / Direct Support Professional Award)

This year, the DS HR Strategy Steering Committee recognized and celebrated the amazing contributions to Ontario’s Developmental Services sector by those who embody the best qualities and demonstrate outstanding practices.  The core objective of the Developmental Services Human Resource Strategy is to improve the personal outcomes and quality of life of people and families supported.  Organizations and direct support professionals nominated for this award will be able to demonstrate how their philosophy and work practices advance the goals of the Developmental Services HR Strategy.

At the organizational level, nominees were able to demonstrate leadership in workforce development and employee engagement.  At the individual level, nominees were able to demonstrate that they put the HR Strategy principles into practice and offer the very best practices in services and supports.  The agency and individual selected were both awarded a $500 training bursary. 

2015 Award Winners

Agency Award:  Community Living London

Group of professionals smiling and holding award.



Individual Award:  Amy Mackenzie, Mills Community Support Corporation

Picture of Amy MacKenzie on PowerPoint slideshow

Make a Difference Every Day Award Winners 2014

This year, the DS HR Strategy Steering Committee recognized and celebrated the amazing contributions to Ontario’s Developmental Services sector by those who demonstrate outstanding practices and embody the DS Core Competencies. The core objective of the Developmental Services Human Resource Strategy is to improve the personal outcomes and quality of life of people supported and their families.  Nominees for this award were thought to demonstrate philosophies and work practices that advance the goals of the Developmental Services HR Strategy.  The agencies of the selected recipients were awarded a $500 training bursary.

2014 Making A Difference Everyday Award Winners   

Mark Benner:
Nominated by Community Living London

Mark Benner receiving his award from two colleagues

Community Living London believes that Mark Benner demonstrates outstanding practices while working to improve the personal outcomes and quality of life of people supported and their families. He continues to be instrumental in advancing the goals of the Developmental Services HR Strategy and is truly worthy of this nomination.


Lesa Jansen:
Nominated by Community Living Chatham Kent

Lesa Jansen receiving her award from two colleagues

Lesa has a strong belief in the value of identifying and implementing a core competency culture within social services and her incredible enthusiasm and “extras” that she has given to this project make her more than a suitable candidate for this award because she truly does Make a Difference Every Day!!!!


Marzena Herrara:
Nominated by Reena

Image of Marzena

Marzena has further committed to a developing career at Reena, by coming forward to offer her services in assisting with additional trainings, continuing to update her own trainings, contributing as an SSW, chairing meetings for her supervisor and in  actively developing her skills in her goal to someday become a supervisor


2014 Nominees

  • Lynne Comer: Christian Horizons, Program Manager
  • Deb Knight: Community Living Grimsby Lincoln, Community Partnership Coordinator
  • Katherine Finelli: CHOICES, Direct Support Professional
  • Margaret Rohan: Community Living Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln, Director
  • Rob Jancsi: Community Living Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln, Direct Support Professional
  • Mark Benner: Fanshawe, Professor
  • Marzena Herrara: Reena, Direct Support Professional
  • Ronald Juuko:  Reena, Direct Support Professional
  • Karen McClintock: Lambton County Developmental Services, Learning Manager
  • Laura Watson: Christian Horizons, Manager of Leadership Development
  • Lesa Jansen:  Community Living Chatham-Kent, Human Resources Manager

Special Recognition given to Steven Finlay:

Steven FinlayThis year the Provincial Network on Developmental Services presented Steven Finlay, Past Co-Chair of the DS HR Strategy Steering Committee and Current CEO of Surrey Place with a special Making a Difference Award to recognize Steven’s valuable leadership to the DS HR Strategy.

Under Steve’s tenure as Co-Chair of the DS HR Strategy, has accomplished many things, including:

  • Worked with the Hay Group to develop Core Competencies for seven key positions in Ontario’s Developmental Services Sector.
  • Launched a pilot and then provincial implementation of the Core Competencies.
  • Developed a partnership with Queen’s University for ongoing evaluation of the DS HR Strategy
  • Launched an Awareness and Marketing campaign to raise the profile of Developmental Services and the DS HR Strategy. 
  • Engaged in conversations with MTCU to support the integration of the Core Competencies into the DSW Diploma and Apprenticeship Program Standards, which has since ensured Core Competencies are reflected in DSW College Curriculum.
  • Fostered the involvement of various stakeholders, including diverse agencies across the sector, colleges, MTCU and representatives of direct support employees.

During his term as Co-Chair Steven moved from ED of Community Living Oshawa Clarington to CEO of Surrey Place.  In September of 2013 Steven announced his resignation from the role of Co-Chair

Make a Difference Every Day Award Winners 2013

The Ontario Developmental Services Human Resource Strategy is pleased to recognize the following Regional Champions agencies with the Make a Difference Every Day Award. Each agency participated in a Core Competencies pilot project launched by the strategy, which encouraged developmental services organizations to establish new guidelines for employees. By implementing Core Competencies into their workplaces, these agencies laid the groundwork for better training, recruitment, career planning and performance expectations for their staff – all of which will make a difference in the lives of people who rely on developmental service organizations for their care.

Here is the list of Regional Champions and their representatives, along with what each agency had to say about the Core Competencies project, when presented with the award at the Developmental Services Human Resource Strategy Forum, Feb. 6-7, 2013 in Toronto.

Community Living Oshawa Clarington
Representatives: Terri Gray/ Doris Maniacco

The Core Competency Committee is a collaborative committee of direct support professionals and management employees, responsible for overseeing the Introduction of Core Competencies into the organization. The team works together to plan how to best deliver training and information about the core competencies within the organization.


Community Living – Cambridge
Representative: Liz Sloan

Community Living Cambridge was excited to be chosen as one of the pilot agencies in this new HR Strategy venture for the DS sector.  The project was well received by our staff teams across the agency and they were quick to see and affirm the value of the task.  Through the pilot process, a new level of understanding for future training needs, succession planning steps and even supervision topics grew.  CLC definitely recognized the benefits of applying the Core Competencies!


Community Living Campbellford Brighton
Representative: Leslie Steeves/ Angela Clarke/ Nancy Brown 

Core Competencies has been a huge success in our organization! Through training and understanding of the competencies our Management team is better able to support and coach employees.  Using the Core Competencies in redeveloping our job descriptions and performance appraisals has offered a streamlined and transparent guide to success that is easily accessed and understood by all employees.


Community Living North Bay  

Participating in this project has given us a jump start to professionalize our work. Our employees were very receptive and although much of it was already an expectation this initiative has given us the model necessary to stay on track.  It has also added a new dimension to our recruitment process. We now make smarter decisions when hiring


Community Living Brant
Representatives: Julia Wheeler, Kathryn Dubicki

The implementation of core competencies as developed for the DS Sector has offered the staff of Community Living Brant the opportunity to feel engaged and inspired!  The core competencies provide more focus in the coaching process and lead to a partnership with employees. Through staff development CL Brant continues on its road of, “Enhancing the lives of the people we support”


Community Living Toronto 

Community Living Toronto has seamlessly integrated Core Competencies into our practices.  They direct our Recruitment processes to select the best e.  We developed an online version of the Core Competencies training that was shared with the sector.  This allows our new staff to quickly access information to provide them with a clear picture of the behaviours needed for success.  We also incorporated the Development Resource Guide into our COMPASS Mentoring program to continue to support staff in striving to achieve their goals and become star performers.


Representative: Stacey Donaghey

Reena is proud to be participating as an agency in the Core Competencies HR Strategy Initiative.  Reena has been connected to the strategy at the sector wide planning stages, through membership on various committees and focus groups.  Reena participated as a Pilot site for the HR Strategy -Core Competencies and is now as Regional Champion and responsible for training trainers from a variety of organizations.  Internally our implementation team has worked on supporting a large system through change and is continuously looking at creative and sustainable ways to drive competencies forward – embedding Core Competencies into our day to day operations.


Representative: Noor Mufti

It was pleasure to be a part of the Core Competencies Pilot initiative. When the project was first introduced, we quickly recognized how it could assist Mainstream in our efforts to enhance the lives of the people we support. Although, there were some frustrations in terms of implementation at the beginning (after all it meant “change’) our decision to participate turned out to be a positive one.


Central West Specialized Developmental Services
Ottawa Rotary Homes

The Core Competencies initiative has impacted the Ottawa Rotary Home by shifting the culture and allowing us to focus on developing meaningful career paths for staff while enhancing the quality of life for those we support.


Representative: Cindy Chappell

The core competencies initiative at Ongwanada has included staff training, the completion of Competency Assessment Questionnaires and the incorporation of behaviour-based interviews into hiring practices.  It has been a great opportunity for Ongwanada to continue its promotion of quality support and service to our clients.  We are very pleased to have been involved in this initiative from the ground up…and look forward to its continued promotion.


Community Living Essex County
Representatives: Claire Market, Srila Perine, Nancy Wallace-Gero

Community Living Essex County continues to
be excited to be part of the implementation of Core Competencies and the Human Resource Strategy.   This is a continuing process of employee growth and development and a great opportunity for succession planning.  Core Competencies has enabled all employees to enhance the quality of life for the people we support.  Through positive and professional communication, actions and beliefs, we are inspiring possibilities!


Community Living London
Representatives: Monique Howard, Michelle Palmer, Indu Radhakrishnan, Sandy Wilson 

Community Living London (CLL) staff embraced the Core Competency initiative from the very beginning.  Our implementation committee made great efforts to ensure that all employees within the organization were introduced to the Core Competencies, its purpose and its value, through an integrated experience of fun and theory.  The success of Core Competency within our agency is due to the dedication and commitment of all involved.” 


Community Living Chatham Kent
Representative: Lesa Jansen

To be a part of the implementation of Core Competencies has been a wonderful learning experience! Embracing this cultural shift has resulted in professional growth within the staffing complement that can only enhance the services and supports provided for persons who have an intellectual disability.  


Community Living Six Nations Ronatahskats

Our agency was one of the first to receive Core Competency training and we are still going through changes the same as other agencies will. Our role was very rewarding and if we contributed in a small way in this large undertaking we are extremely grateful.”


Community Living Fort Francis
Representatives: Kim Lepine and Tara Morrison   

Since the delivery of core competencies to the agencies, it is helping to enhance and build quality supports and services for a better future.”