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MDHHS Director's Awards for Recipient Rights

The MDHHS Director's Awards for Recipient Rights have been presented annually at the Recipient Rights Conference. 

Following are the award descriptions:

Director's Award for Innovation in Rights Protection 

Nominees for the Innovation Award will have created a new or different way on enabling the vision of recipient rights or of a rights office.  This may include creating a valuable new process or product, constructing a different way of approaching old problems, creating a new solution for systemic problems, etc.  Because of this innovation, the rights office has demonstrated an increased ability to better provide rights services either directly (such as when performing standard rights activities) or indirectly (such as if the innovation improves or enhances the operation of the rights office.) The nominee will also have shown a demonstrated willingness to share the innovation with others when possible.

Previous Honorees

2021 No award presented
2020 No award presented
2019 Detroit Wayne Ambassador Program, Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network
2018 Jennifer Gorman, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
2018 Katie Smith, Northpointe Behavioral Healthcare Systems
2017  Matt Zugel, Washtenaw County CMH, University of Michigan Health System
2016  Mark Mishal, Macomb County CMH Services
2016  Briana Squibb, Macomb County CMH Services
2013  Sue Witting, Henry Ford Kingswood Hospital
2012  Recovery Care Committee, Center for Forensic Psychiatry
2011  Bay-Arenac Behavioral Health Rights Office
2010  Lisa Jolly, Lapeer County CMH
2009  James Tenuta, Doctors' Hospital of Michigan
2008  Shane Ray, CMH Partnership of SE Michigan
2007  John McKevitz, Oakland County CMH Authority
2006  Community Network Services - "The Stigma Busters"
2005  Patricia Jolly, MDCH Office of Recipient Rights
2004  Cheryl Parker & Beatrice Stevens, Newaygo County CMH
2003  West Michigan CMH System
2002  Jonathan Bennett, North Central CMH 
2001  Woodlands Behavioral Health
2000  Oakland County CMH Authority



Director's Award for Advocacy on Behalf of Mental Health Recipients 

Nominees for the Advocacy Award will have made an outstanding contribution toward, or have gone to extraordinary means, to advocate on behalf of people receiving mental health services.  This may include exceptional effort or initiative by the nominee directly advocating on behalf of an individual consumer or a group of consumers.  It may also include extraordinary indirect advocacy, such as a rights office acting as a catalyst for positive change, inspiring other entities or systems within or outside of mental health, to realize their roles in championing the rights or needs of recipients.

Previous Honorees 

2021 No award presented
2020  No award presented
2019  No award presented
2018 Telly Delor, St. Clair County CMH Authority
2017  Newaygo RRAC, Newaygo County CMH Services
2015  Lisa Haywood, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital
2014  Renee Richards, Mercy Memorial Hospital System
2014  Honorable Judge Frank Arnold, Monroe County Probate Court
2013  John Rogers, Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority
2012  Rebecca Browne, Shiawassee County CMHA
2011  Christina Wilkins, War Memorial Hospital
2010  Jonathan Bennett, Northern Lakes CMH
2009  Les Behnken, Oakwood Heritage Hospital
2008  Sue Witting, Henry Ford Kingswood Hospital
2007  Newaygo County CMH
2006  Judy Tucker, MDCH Office of Recipient Rights
2005  Kevin Oosterhouse, Network 180
2004  Dianne Baker, MDCH Office of Recipient Rights
2003  Sanilac County CMH
2002  Borgess Medical Center/Kalamazoo Valley Community College
2001  Macomb County CMH
2000  MDCH - Mt. Pleasant Center Office of Recipient Rights



Director's Award for Consumer Empowerment 

A nominee for the Consumer Empowerment Award will have a profound or uniquely positive difference in the lives of consumers, so that consumers are empowered to transcend the "world of disability" and live a life of self-advocacy.  Due to the initiative or effort of the nominee, consumers will now be able to advocate for themselves, to the fullest extent possible, in the protection of their own rights, creating hope, control of their own lives, and a valuable place in society.

Previous Honorees 

2021 No award presented
2020  No award presented
2019  No award presented
2018  Kathleen O'Donnell, Detroit Wayne MH Authority
2017  Tim Ninemire, Saginaw County CMH Authority
2015  Tamera Varkas, Beaumont Hospital-Taylor
2014  Cheryl Parker, Newaygo County CMH Services
2013  Mark Mishal, Macomb County CMH Services
2012  Janet Dietsch, Network 180
2011  Renee Uitto, Oakland County CMH Authority
2010  Lisa Cook-Gordon, Family-to-Family Health Information and Education Center
2009  Shannon Kaufmann, InterAct of Michigan
2008  Jack Donaldson, Oakland County CMH Authority
2008  Marc DeRush, Macomb County Community Mental Health
2008  Eunice Howard, Detroit-Wayne County CMH Agency
2007  Jeff Patton, Kalamazoo County CMH & SA Services
2006  William Allen, Oakland County CMH Authority 
2005  Robert Chadwick, Tuscola Behavioral Health Systems
2004  Cindy Tewksbury, Tuscola Behavioral Health Systems
2003  Chad Witcher, MDCH Office of Recipient Rights
2002  Oakland County CMH Authority
2001  Lifeways
2000  Tuscola Behavioral Health Systems


Cookie Gant Spirit Award 


Cookie Gant was a Michigan grown but nationally known advocate for human rights. She was a disability activist, a performance artist, a powerful raiser of consciousness, and a relentless supporter of diversity in every aspect of life. Cookie fought for human rights in the mental health system every day, never giving up her tough spirit, her love for others, or her sense of humor. She was an unstoppable, irreverent activist, who always maintained loving support and affection for people in "the movement."  Shortly after her death in 2003, the State Recipient Rights Committee established an award in her honor and indicated that it should be given annually to a person who exhibits the dedication, demonstrates the tenacity, and advocates diligently for persons with mental illness and developmental disabilities - just the way Cookie lived her life.

If you would like to submit a nomination for consideration for the 2021 awards, the  Cookie Gant Nomination Form.doc  is linked for those wishing to obtain the Cookie Gant Award Nomination form and instructions.

Remember to save your copy of the downloaded form (word format) to your documents before completion of the form.

Previous Honorees 

2022 Margaret Stooksberry
2022 Sheree Braswell
2021 Deborah Monroe
2020 Tameka Citchen-Spruce
2020 Jaime Junior
2019 Marcia Probst
2019 Paul Brandon (posthumously)
2018 Kathleen Tynes
2018 Wayne Hogan (posthumously)
2017  Michael Squirewell
2016  Stelios Chimpouras
2015  Donna Orrin
2014  Todd Koopsman
2013  Sheryl Kuenzer
2012  Dalia Smith
2012  Kate Zajac
2011  Malkia Newman
2010  Pamela Stants
2009  Nancy Lewis
2008  Donna Nichols
2007  James Lindsey
2006  Linda Rama
2005  Jamie Armstrong
2004  Marty Raaymakers
2003  Cookie Gant (posthumously)