Dan Shannon, Exec. Dir. MDDC, Sandy Houghton & Ed Bilecki, Mass. Advocates Standing Strong

Advocates Honor Sandy Houghton for Service to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (MASS) bestowed the Craig Smith Spirit Award to Sandy Houghton for her Leadership with Self-Advocacy training.

The Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC) is pleased to announce that Sandy Houghton, founder of the Self-Advocacy Leadership Series (SALS), received the prestigious Craig Smith Spirit Award from Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (MASS), an advocacy organization dedicated to empowering self-advocates through education. The award was bestowed at MASS' 13 th Annual Self-Advocacy Conference in Sturbridge on Saturday, November 20, 2010.

The award is named for Craig Smith, a tireless advocate and supporter for people with intellectual disabilities. He was a founding chairperson of MASS, and a trainer in self-advocacy and advised the Department of Developmental Services on policies and programs including the promotion of self-determination for people who use the Department's supports.

"We are pleased to honor Sandy's outspoken leadership, compassion, and mentoring for individuals with developmental disabilities. Her work to develop self-advocacy training has empowered so many in our community," said Anne Fracht, board member and former President of Mass Advocates Standing Strong and a graduate of SALS. "Sandy embodies the spirit of the Craig Smith Award."

Sandy is a self-advocate with extensive experience in systems advocacy, human rights and leadership development. She developed the Self-Advocacy Leadership Series (SALS) as the inaugural Barbara Gopen Memorial Fellow, and now conducts SALS training sessions across the Commonwealth as part of her work with MDDC.

"Sandy's work through the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council has given individuals with developmental disabilities and their families a stronger voice in the Commonwealth," said Dan Shannon, Executive Director of MDDC. "Her contribution can be measured by the hundreds of self-advocates who are working toward a better life with more opportunity in their communities."

About Sandy Houghton

Sandy Houghton is the inaugural Barbara Gopen Memorial Fellow, founder of the Self-Advocacy Leadership Series (SALS) and a current SALS trainer for the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC). As a mom of a severely disabled girl, she chose to dedicate her life to helping people with disabilities become better advocates. In 1993, Sandy co-authored a book entitled Wealth of Friendships, which examines the reality of someone with a developmental disability establishing and maintaining friendships, and the barriers that people with disabilities encounter due to society's misperceptions. She contributed to the establishment of the Open Door Club, one of the first self-advocacy groups in western Mass. In 1995, Sandy was a founding board member of Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong (MASS), a statewide self-advocacy organization created and governed by people with disabilities. She has also served as an officer of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, a national self-advocacy organization.

The Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council ( MDDC)

MDDC is an independent agency, funded by the federal government, dedicated to empowering people with developmental disabilities and their families to enjoy full and productive lives by promoting self-sufficiency, community inclusion and opportunity. For more information about the Council, please visit www.mass.gov/mddc or find us on Facebook.