Jane Vermeulen Leadership Award



Who is Janey Vermeulen?

Headshot of Janey Vermeulen.


Jane "Janey" Vermeulen was an advocate for disability rights. She was a vibrant, positive person who believed all people with disabilities should be respected and supported to live actively in their community. Jane was an ardent supporter of Self-Determination, self-directed services and supports, and community living. She shared her experience and knowledge with others as a Peer Mentor, supporting others to direct their lives.



What is the Jane Vermeulen Award?Janey Vermeulen standing next to Walt Disney's Goofy.

Shortly after Jane's death in 2022, the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute (MI-DDI) at Wayne State University established the Jane Vermeulen Leadership Award in her honor. Jane was an active member of MI-DDI's Community Advisory Council. This award will be presented annually to a Michigan resident with a disability who exhibits leadership in their local and/or disability community. The award recognizes Jane's passion for Self-Determination, self-advocacy, support for person-centered supports and community living for persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities - just the way Jane lived her life. The person chosen will receive a scholarship of up to $500 to attend a leadership training event or conference.


How to Nominate Someone or Apply for the Leadership Award Yourself

If you are a self-advocate, or know a self-advocate, who reflects the essence of Jane, please nominate yourself or them for this distinguished award.

The 2023 nomination period has closed. 

The winner will be announced on the MI-DDI website on September 1, 2023. The award will be presented to the winner at the September 2023 MI-DDI Community Advisory Council meeting. The recipient will receive a scholarship of up to $500 to attend a leadership training event or conference.


2023 Jane Vermeulen Award Winner: Alex Kimmel

The inaugural winner of the Jane Vermeulen Leadership Award is Alex KimmelA headshot of Alex Kimmel. Alex is smiling, wearing sunglasses, and a blue plaid button-up shirt. He has short brown hair.. Alex was selected from a group of applicants to receive the award through a blind judging process. The selection committee was made up of members of the MI-DDI Community Advisory Council, on which Jane was a long-time member. Selection criteria include how a person exhibits leadership in different areas of their life and work. These areas include living the ideals of self-determination, self-advocacy, person-centered supports, supporting community living, and other leadership qualities.

Alex, also known as “The Self-Determinator”, is a speaker, trainer, and advocate for himself and others in the disability community. His core philosophies include supporting inclusion, celebrating neurodiversity, self-determination as a basic human right, and having no limits on one’s life regardless of disability. Alex exemplified these ideals when he was featured in one of MI-DDI’s Possibilities videos in 2017. Like Jane Vermeullen, Alex has a positive impact on the lives of those he comes into contact with on a daily basis. In addition to his community involvement and volunteer work, Alex provides training to health and human service professionals on the importance of self-determination and assisting individuals with disabilities to lead full, self-directed lives. Learn more about Alex on his website, https://www.alexkimmel.com/.

Read the full press relaease here.



If you have any questions about the award nomination process, please contact MI-DDI staff at middi@wayne.edu or call (313) 577-2654.



The Jane Vermeulen Leadership Award has been officialy approved by Wayne State University.