Top row from Left to Right: Max McQueen, ABIL Board Member; Lynn Black, TMIL Program Manager; Amina Kruck, ABIL VP/Director of Advocacy.  Bottom row from left to right: Teresa Moore, Guest; John Britton; Phil Pangrazio, ABIL President & CEO.

Ninth Annual Spirit of ABIL Awards

Ninth Annual Spirit of ABIL Awards

The ABIL Board of Directors hosted a Spirit of ABIL Awards reception on March 29th., 2011. The recognition reception took place at the Disability Empowerment Center.  The event marked the ninth presentation of the “Spirit of ABIL” award, which honors a consumer or advocate for actions that exemplify the independent living philosophy of consumer control, self-advocacy and peer support.  Recognition was also given in five other categories encompassing volunteerism, Personal Assistance Services, and leadership.

The Spirit of ABIL Award was presented to John Britton, who is described as an intelligent and caring person who enjoys being a self advocate.  John is extremely active, hard working, and advocates at legislative events and council meetings, regardless of the obstacles of his cerebral palsy.  Among his many accomplishments, John serves as the President of the self-advocacy group People First of Arizona, Inc., and as the Regional II Representative of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE).  He was also elected as the SABE Treasurer.

Spirit of ABIL Awardee – John Britton
Top row from Left to Right: Max McQueen, ABIL Board Member; Lynn Black, TMIL Program Manager; Amina Kruck, ABIL VP/Director of Advocacy.  Bottom row from left to right: Teresa Moore, Guest; John Britton; Phil Pangrazio, ABIL President & CEO.

Top row from Left to Right: Max McQueen, ABIL Board Member; Lynn Black, TMIL Program Manager; Amina Kruck, ABIL VP/Director of Advocacy.  Bottom row from left to right: Teresa Moore, Guest; John Britton; Phil Pangrazio, ABIL President & CEO.


From Left to Right:  Jim Bihn; Max McQueen, Board Member; Dalen Soto

From Left to Right:  Jim Bihn; Max McQueen, Board Member; Dalen Soto


Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.

Volunteer Peer Mentor of the Year – Jim Bihn

Jim Bihn was recognized as the Volunteer Peer Mentor of the Year.  Jim joined the ABIL Peer Mentor team in October 2003.  Jim had a special interest in working with individuals who had basic educational skills and learning goals.  Over the years, he worked with several mentees in their preparation to take the GED test.  Jim also assisted individuals who had amputations and were learning to live with their disability.  A particularly successful mentor/mentee match was made when Jim and Dalen Soto were introduced.  This match has been a shining example of the spirit of peer mentoring, with both mentor and mentee coming together, fully committed to reaching a goal.


From Left to Right: Gwen Dean, PAS VP/Director; Nick Perry, ABIL Board Member; Maria Vega and guest; Max McQueen, Board Member; Phil Pangrazio, ABIL President & CEO.

From Left to Right: Gwen Dean, PAS VP/Director; Nick Perry, ABIL Board Member; Maria Vega and guest; Max McQueen, Board Member; Phil Pangrazio, ABIL President & CEO.


From Left to Right: Gilbert Muniz; Thomas Romash; Liticia Hawkins, ABIL CLO Coordinator, accepting the award on Carmen’s behalf

From Left to Right: Gilbert Muniz; Thomas Romash; Liticia Hawkins, ABIL CLO Coordinator, accepting the award on Carmen’s behalf

Personal Assistant Services Awards

Personal Assistance Services recognizes excellence in the PAS department by presenting a PAS Employee of the Year award, as well as two Honorable Mention awards.  These awards recognize personal assistants who provide exceptional service and dedication as caregivers.  A common thread found with all three of these awards and the employees who earned them was the attribute of going “above and beyond” to provide the highest quality of care.  Honesty, reliability, flexibility, excellent communication and a caring heart were all words used to describe the deserving award recipients.

PAS Employee of the Year – Gilbert Muniz
Honorable Mention – Maria Vega
Honorable Mention – Thomas Romash

Independent Living Leadership Award – Carmen Myers

The award line up saw a new addition this year as the first Independent Living Leadership Award winner was announced.  Carmen Meyers, an active member of the Independent Living Council and Community Living Options Program, was recognized with this award.  In addition to advising ABIL’s Independent Living Team through her participation on the IL Council, Carmen was also chosen to attend the National SABE (Self Advocates Becoming Empowered) Conference.  She returned with a renewed commitment to strengthen her self-advocacy skills.  She was described as a role model to her peers and other volunteers.  You will find Carmen volunteering at numerous ABIL and DEC events.  ABIL staff members Liticia Hawkins and Darrel Christenson accepted the award on Carmen’s behalf.


On behalf of the ABIL Board of Directors, we would like to personally congratulate all of this year’s awardees and offer our sincerest thanks for their dedication to ABIL and the independent living movement.  ABIL would not be successful without people like them!