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Advocacy and Leadership Awards

NCCDD LogoALAwardsThe North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD) honors the significant contributions made by advocates who are actively working to change attitudes and support greater choices for a more inclusive North Carolina. The Council established its Advocacy and Leadership Awards to honor three leaders in the disability community who passionately worked and continue to work to build a better North Carolina for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Congratulations to Our 2019 Advocacy & Leadership Award Winners

NCCDD Advocacy Award Winner Karen LukenKaren Luken, Oak Island, NC
Riddle Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Although we don’t see her wearing a cape, those who know Karen claim her superpower is “making partnerships happen.” Karen is a disability and health consultant and the project director of the Medical Health Homes for People with Developmental Disabilities initiative. She has over 40 years of work and experience in the areas of disability and health, recreational therapy practice, research and education, and grants management.

But it is her expertise in bringing together organizations to combine their expertise and findings to advance the causes of people with disabilities. Colleagues from across the state and other agencies continuously cite Karen’s, “impressive ability to bring together stakeholders to create a statewide collaborative partnership to benefit people with developmental disabilities”.
Karen is also acknowledged for never missing an opportunity to bringing the people most affected by policy to the forefront. She makes sure before any formal meetings or discussions take place, that people with disabilities are familiar with issues and industry-specific terminology so that all partners brought to the table are on a level playing field.

At policy summits, Karen ensures the stories of people with disabilities are shared so that all present understand this is about people, not just rules and regulations. She has succeeded in creating a unifying effort to bring diverse stakeholders together in meaningful, long-term ways.

NCCDD Advocacy Award Winner Renate MacchiroleRenate Macchirole, Kill Devil Hills, NC
Hefner Memorial Award Recipient

Renate passed away in 2018, but her spirit lives on in the memories of so many of us gathered here tonight. Her passion, her explanation and her salty language captivated, engaged and turned everyone she met all into advocates working with and for people with disabilities.

From her creation of the Dare County Beach Club that helped residents with disabilities work within their community to do things like assist the elderly with yard work or cheer up children with illnesses to her work with Room in the Inn serving the Outer Banks homeless of all abilities, Renate championed all residents.
In addition, Renate supported the students with disabilities studying at the College of Albemarle by helping the school implement the PACE program so they would find employment and learn life skills right in their own city.

Even when she entered hospice, she kept her notebook and pen nearby and jotted down ideas of how people with disabilities could become more ingrained in their community’s needs and events. That’s how big Renate’s heart was – being an advocate for all during her last moments here on earth.

Renate also served on the North Carolina Council for Developmental Disabilities for four years and we are honored to have had her share her leadership skills and passion with us.

View the videos below about the 2019 Award Winners!


Applications for the 2020 Advocacy & Leadership Awards will be available in the summer.

Winners are announced at the November Quarterly Council Meeting during the Advocacy & Leadership Awards Ceremony in November, 2020.


The Leadership Achievement Award is presented to an outstanding North Carolina self-advocate whose work has improved the quality of life for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. This award was presented for the first time at the November quarterly meeting of the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities on November 7, 2018.


Jack B. Hefner served the State of North Carolina as a member of the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD) from 1982 until his passing in 1994. As a father to a son with intellectual disabilities, "Big Jack" was willing to do whatever it took to enhance the quality of life for North Carolinians affected by disability. Jack B. Hefner's leadership inspired a generation of advocates and people with I/DD to work forcefully.

On October 27, 1994, the NCCDD established the Jack B. Hefner Award to celebrate the vision and achievement of North Carolina's families and people with I/DD. The Council presents the award annually.


Helen C. "Holly" Riddle served as the Executive Director for the NCCDD for 23 years. Through her professionalism, innovation and tireless dedication to look beyond the barriers and focus on creative solutions, she led the journey to make North Carolina a state where inclusion and full participation are possible for all citizens. This award is the highest recognition given by the NCCDD to those professionals who have made lasting contributions towards improving opportunities, breaking down barriers, and promoting increased quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In 2013, the NCCDD established the Helen C. "Holly" Riddle Award to celebrate the work of professionals with North Carolina's families and people with I/DD. The Council presents the award annually.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of nominees are you looking for? The Council seeks an outstanding North Carolina self-advocate whose work has improved the quality of life for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities for the newly established North Carolina Leadership Achievement Award. The Council seeks family members or community members for the Jack B. Hefner Award who have been involved in making an impact in their local communities that not only benefit their family member, but will positively impact other individuals as well. For the Helen C. “Holly” Riddle Awards, the Council seeks nominees from professionals in the field who have devoted to their career to improving the systems in NC that serve individuals with I/DD and their families.

What do you look for not only in nominees, but award winners? The Council promotes the three awards and seeks nominations from the general public, Council members, professionals in the field, individuals with I/DD, and family members. Those making nominations must show that the person they are nominating is making an impact in their local community that benefits others with I/DD. Those professionals nominated for the Riddle Award will demonstrate improvement of systems serving individuals with I/DD that will have or have had a statewide impact.

How are the recipients selected? A selection committee of NCCDD members reviews all applications and carefully considers all information submitted for the candidates and chooses a candidate for the respective awards. These candidates are submitted to the executive committee for review and endorsement.

What do the recipients get? The winner of the NCCDD Advocacy and Leadership awards are invited to the November Council meeting and can invite up to four guests to the awards ceremony. The award winners will receive a plaque, an opportunity to address the Council, and their story will be promoted on the Council website, the social media pages, and in their hometown newspapers.

How does the selection process go? Applications for the Awards open in early summer with announcements going out throughout the Council and Council member networks. Nomination forms can be downloaded or completed online. For those who need assistance completing the nomination form, they can call the NCCDD office at 919-527-6500.


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North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities
820 South Boylan Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27603
919-527-6500 (voice/tdd)
800-357-6916 (voice/tdd)
800-357-6916 (TTY)
919-850-2915 fax