Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs announced the winners of the 2017 Governor’s Outstanding Leadership in Disabilities (GOLD) Awards at a ceremony at the Old State Capitol. The GOLD Awards recognizes extraordinary individuals and organizations who have contributed their time and talents to benefit the lives of persons with disabilities in Louisiana.

“The GOLD Awards emphasizes the importance of the contributions of advocates and persons with disabilities in moving Louisiana forward,” said Gov. Edwards. “I always enjoy this ceremony because it celebrates great Louisianans who contribute countless hours to bettering our communities.”

Gov. Edwards served as the keynote speaker at the ceremony. Gov. Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards took pictures with each award recipient and congratulated them on their achievement.

The winners are as follows: 

Distinguished Merit                      
Ashley McReynolds, Baton Rouge

Patsy Barrett Memorial             
Jane Rhea Vernier, New Orleans

Ken Vince Memorial                     
Jay Isch, Scott 

Educator of the Year                    
Julie Bourgeois, Thibodeaux 

Youth of the Year                          
Lillian Dejean, Lafayette

Family of the Year                         
The Pierce Family, Larose

Volunteer of the Year                  
Trach Mommas of Louisiana

Employer of the Year
University Medical Center, New Orleans

Provider of the Year                     
Terrebonne Arc, Houma                                

Direct Support Professional of the Year       
Latasha Walker, Bossier City

Veterans of the Year                     
Kenneth Carmouche, Lafayette

Service Animal of the Year         
Bella (Arc of Caddo-Bossier), Shreveport

Elected Official of the Year         
Rep. Patricia Smith, Baton Rouge

Public Servant of the Year          
Mark Thomas, Baton Rouge