National Disability Provider Association Names Marvette Harris Recipient of 2019 National Direct Support Professional of the Year Award

The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) announced that Marvette Harris, a Direct Support Professional at Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana, has been named the recipient of the 2019 National Direct Support Professional of the Year award. Harris joins more than four dozen other recipients of ANCOR’s 2019 Direct Support Professional of the Year awards, chosen from a field of nearly 350 outstanding nominees.

“Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana is overwhelmingly proud of Marvette, for her award recognition of course, but more importantly for her dedication and commitment to true community inclusion for the individuals we support,” said Jim LeBlanc, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana. “We cannot think of anyone who more clearly demonstrates the power of person-centered supports, and we’re so grateful that ANCOR has recognized Marvette with this high-profile honor.”

Awarded annually since 2007, ANCOR’s Direct Support Professional of the Year awards recognize outstanding professionals who provide long-term supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The awards and the accompanying presentation at ANCOR’s Annual Conference were created to celebrate the important role Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) play in ensuring individuals with I/DD can be included and empowered in their communities, and to raise awareness about a direct support workforce in crisis. Nationally, turnover rates near 50 percent amount to a significant shortage of DSPs.

“I started my career in the field of disability supports as a DSP, and so I know just how critical DSPs are to supporting individuals in their quest to live their best and most fulfilling lives,” said Robert Budd, President of ANCOR and Chief Executive Officer at FREE, Inc, in Old Bethpage, New York. “DSPs rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and for that reason I’m proud of our association for recognizing Marvette and all of her significant contributions to the lives of the individuals supported by Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana.”

Barbara Merrill, ANCOR’s Chief Executive Officer, added: “I often describe DSPs as ‘community navigators.’ Far more than just caregivers, DSPs do it all. From navigating civic life to supporting individuals to create a sense of community around them, DSPs make magic in their communities every single day. These awards represent just a fraction of the recognition that individuals like Marvette deserve.”

The 2019 Direct Support Professional of the Year awards will be presented in a ceremony in Portland, Oregon, on May 8, 2019, at ANCOR’s Annual Conference, Bridges to Better Outcomes. Members of the press interested in attending the awards presentation should contact Sean Luechtefeld, ANCOR’s Director of Communications, at or 703.535.7850, ext. 100.