September 17, 2021

OPWDD Honors Our Direct Support Workforce

OPWDD Honors Our Direct Support Workforce

OPWDD Honors Our Direct Support Workforce

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are the heart of the OPWDD service system, aiding the people we support with all of their personal needs and helping them to participate in programs that strengthen their life skills.  As we close National Direct Support Professional Recognition week, it is my honor to recognize our dedicated state workforce as well as those who work for our service provider partners.

During the second year of this ongoing public health challenge, the job of a DSP is perhaps harder than ever.  Not only must our DSPs navigate the challenge of keeping people safe and engaged during this ongoing global pandemic, but they must also endure the effects of the severe workforce shortage that we in the human services field face, and which the pandemic has only exacerbated. For this we are forever grateful.

As a former Direct Support Professional, I know firsthand how hard direct care work is. I also know how personally rewarding the work can be. To the committed direct support professionals here at OPWDD and at our service partner agencies across the state, please know how much we appreciate your strength and resolve to continue to be there for the people we support despite the ongoing challenges. We appreciate your faith in us and in our service system.  And while the past few years have been especially challenging, I am confident that with your continued help we will emerge from this time stronger than before.

As we wind down our celebration of Direct Support Professional Recognition Week, I would like to announce the 20 men and women from the state workforce who have earned the distinction of being named OPWDD's Direct Support Professionals of the Year.  I hope you'll also join me in saluting our entire Direct Support workforce whose commitment and contributions day-in and day-out enable the people we support to live richer lives.


Theodore A. Kastner
Commissioner, M.D, M.S.

DSP Recognition Video

2021 OPWDD Direct Support Professionals of the Year

Sabrina Campbell, Brooklyn

AnnMarie Williams, Brooklyn

Eric Flanders, Broome

Ramon Machado, Capital Region

Bonita Johnson, Central NY   

Donna Steed, Bernard Fineson

Andrew Dupuis, Finger Lakes

Nancy Wright, Finger Lakes

Abner Saintjuste, Hudson Valley

Madeleine Pierre, Hudson Valley

Heather Dennis, Long Island

Stacia Brown, Long Island

Isiah Ellison, NY Metro

Denise James, Staten Island

Gbesay Karneh, Staten Island

Erin Vaillancourt, Sunmount

Lisa Troxel, Sunmount

Ronald Knox, Sunmount

Dylan Warren, Western NY

Lisa Milliman, Western NY