Jane Vermeulen Leadership Award


**The 2024 nomination period is is now closed.**

The winner will be announced on the MI-DDI website on October 1, 2024. The award will be presented at the October 2024 MI-DDI Community Advisory Council meeting. The person selected will receive a scholarship of up to $500 to attend a leadership training event or conference. 


Nomination Requirements:

  • Nomination form completed by May 1, 2024.
  • One (1) letter of recommendation from someone other than the person making the nomination. The letter should speak to the nominee’s qualifications for the award (see below).
  • Nominee must be 18 years of age or older and reside in the state of Michigan.


Letters of recommendation should answer the following questions about the nominee:

  1. How does the nominee show self-determination in their own life?
  2. How do they support self-determination in others? 
  3. How does the nominee show strength and courage in advocating for themselves and others? 
  4. How does the nominee support community living for themselves and others? 
  5. Other: Please feel free to share any other information about the nominee that shows their strength as a leader.


Nominate Yourself or Someone Else for the Leadership Award

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


Self-Advocates: Click here to nominate yourself.


All others: Click here to nominate a self-advocate.



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.


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.

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