News Release

Lafayette Awarded for Disability Awareness
Posted: 12/2/2019 4:00 PM

​Local & State GOLD Award Winners Announced 

The Mayor-President’s Awareness Committee for Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD) recognized community members who have improved the lives of those living with disabilities. Honorees were celebrated on Wednesday, November 20 at the Twelfth Annual Awards Ceremony.

All award recipients were nominated through a community-wide, open submission process and were ultimately chosen for their outstanding work by an ACCD appointed selections committee. The honorees’ families, friends, colleagues and those who nominated them attended the event to celebrate the recipients and their contributions in bettering the lives of the disabled community. 

Mayor-President Joel Robideaux began the ceremony congratulating the ACCD on its work serving as the voice for disabled citizens, making recommendations and requests on their behalf, advocating for their rights on issues affecting the disabled, and striving to make Lafayette a more inclusive community for all citizens. 


Local ACCD Award Winners

This year eight awards were given in various categories with two of those winners receiving awards at the state level:

Distinguished Merit – UL LIFE Program, (Life Is For Everyone) for their work as the first post-secondary program in the state to offer students with intellectual disabilities a chance to audit traditional college courses in order to broaden their knowledge and gain invaluable skills for independence while engaging in campus life and interacting with student mentors.

Educator of the Year – Yvette Landry, for her years of work overcoming language barriers for students with disabilities through the teaching of sign language at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL).

Employer of the Year – Sonic Drive-In, for their work to recruit, hire and accommodate each individual’s needs and promote success. Their employment practices provide employees with disabilities with extended training time, work around scheduling conflicts, and promote confidence and provide social interaction on a daily basis.

Outstanding Direct Support Professional – Dr. Jennifer Tetnowski, for her work with individuals who struggle with aphasia, a condition which limits a person’s speech.  As a speech pathologist and professor at UL, Dr. Tetnowski is positively influencing the lives of many in this community. She frequently attends support groups and social events to bond with the individuals she serves, and she started her own event to help the attendees.  

*Youth of the Year – William Romero, for his work on a Disability Awareness Forum that he coordinated with help from his nominators. William wanted to host this event to give his fellow students an idea of what it is like to live with a disability while in high school, and to share his experiences with others, in hopes of giving and gaining perspective.

*Outstanding Individual with a Disability – Ali Hebert, for her service to The National Alliance on Mental Illness Club (NAMI) at UL, where she was involved for four years. In that time, not only did she spread awareness around campus, but also in the community through her personal donations to NAMI and the creation of a social media page to serve as a platform for individuals with disabilities to come together.

Volunteer of the Year – Maggie Johnson, for her inclusionary efforts on the UL Campus through the UL Beacon Club, which works to bring inclusion and acceptance to the forefront for UL students with disabilities. She personally recruited talented artists for the club’s first inclusionary art show last year. Her positive attitude and eagerness to help while conquering her own challenges, is a motivation to those around her.

Vickie Nettles Advocacy Award – The DREAMS Foundation, for its work to create opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The DREAMS Foundation has assisted over 100 families to offer activities for individuals with disabilities to participate in so that they can learn their limits and overcome them. In addition, the Foundation recently founded a manufacturing company that currently employees 18 people with disabilities.

*All winners of the ACCD Awards are submitted at the state level for the Governor’s Outstanding Leadership in Disabilities (GOLD) Awards to be presented by Governor John Bel Edwards in a ceremony on December 10, 2019 in the Old State Capitol Building.

Ali Hebert and William Romero won GOLD awards in their respective categories. 

*Youth of the Year – William Romero

*Outstanding Individual with a Disability – Ali Hebert

For more information on the ACCD visit and