2019 NEW HAMPSHIRE DSP OF THE YEAR – NICOLE DUFOUR

Described as “fearless and trustworthy” by her colleagues, Nicole Dufour is a strong and compassionate advocate for the individuals she supports.

For the last 25 years, Nicole has been the home provider for an individual with intensive support needs. When he first came to the agency, “people were afraid of him because of how dangerous his behavior was,” while his limited vision and verbal skills made communication nearly impossible. Nicole was unwavering in her belief that this individual could live a fulfilling life, so she began working hard on his communication, behavior and self-soothing skills. Today, she has not only helped him to safely and meaningfully socialize with family and friends, but has taught others how to interpret his preferences. One colleague who witnessed this transformation happily reported that he now has “numerous people in his life who appreciate and value his presence.”

Nicole’s natural talent for compassionate service combined with over 30 years of experience as a DSP makes her an obvious candidate for leadership. She has served as a mentor among her agency peers, a statewide trainer, a member of several teams committed to improving service quality and staff retention initiatives, and an effective Transition Coordinator. When an individual with intensive needs transitions to her agency, Nicole works with the team to learn about the individual’s priorities, select a DSP who is a good match for their needs, and provide tailored training for support staff.

It’s no wonder, then, why Nicole was named New Hampshire’s 2019 DSP of the year! they are and what is most important to them—and making sure that their voices are heard.

2019 MARYLAND DSP OF THE YEAR – MARIAN MULBAH-POQUEE

Described as a “role model for other DSPs in the agency,” Marian Mulbah-Poquee is a strong and silent supporter for the individuals she serves. She lets them take the lead and “dictate what they want for themselves,” then figures out how she can assist them.

A critical part of facilitating independence is supporting individual choice. Marian encourages the women she serves to pay for their own purchases and handle their own money. In this way, they not only exercise agency over their shopping choices, but also learn about financial responsibility. Marian also supports autonomy inside the home, where she teaches them safety skills, gardening and basic home care so that they can spend more time living independently.

These skills for self-advocacy and autonomy translate into civic participation in the public sphere: each of these women is an active participant in a local advocacy group. The group provides the women with an opportunity to learn about issues affecting their community and provide their opinions. The women have become so active in the group that Marian supported their efforts to attend Developmental Disability Day in Annapolis, so that they could advocate for themselves with lawmakers.

Marian wants the individuals that she supports to be involved in their community in as many different ways as possible. As a tireless advocate for “her ladies,” Marian provides them with the space and choice to lead full and independent lives.