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2015 Golisano Foundation Move to Include Award

Shirley Szekeres, PhD

double ruleThis award goes to a pioneer in higher education who never lost sight of her vision... which is making sure that we are educating and training the next generation of health clinicians and human service professionals to serve people with disabilities.

Dr. Shirley Szekeres, is the former Dean of the School of Health and Human Services at Nazareth College. She oversaw major growth including expansion of community partnerships, new clinics
and the expansion of the speech language therapy, art therapy, and music therapy clinics.

She now serves as the director of the new York Wellness and Rehab Institute, which educate students in holistic, person-centered, evidence-based care while providing needed wellness and rehabilitative services to individuals with acquired and developmental disabilities.

We had the pleasure of working with Shirley and others in the community on the curriculum committee for the new Institute at Nazareth College. 

Shirley asked us to participate to be sure the needs and issues facing those with IDD were heard and represented.

The Institute and Shirley are real gems in our community.

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Shirley Szekeres holds a Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh.  Her career spans more than 40 years beginning at the Rehabilitation Institute of Pittsburgh where she was a therapist, researcher and director in programming for individuals with language and cognitive disabilities.
Dr. Szekeres has published more than 25 book chapters and journal articles and given numerous state and national presentations related to the diagnosis and treatment of language and cognitive disabilities.

She came to Nazareth College in 1991, serving as chair, teacher, and clinical supervisor in the speech-language pathology program.  In 2004, she became the first dean of the School of Health and Human Services (SHHS). During her 10-year tenure as dean, she oversaw major growth including expansion of community partnerships, new programs In Creative Arts Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Public Health, and new clinics for physical therapy, occupational therapy as well as significant expansion of the speech-language therapy, art therapy, and music therapy clinics. 

Dr. Szekeres has promoted interprofessional education within the School supporting the development of programs such as the I-span for teaching individuals with autism and an IPE course, and has led the Collaborative Practice Steering Committee, which sets interprofessional policy and procedures for campus clinics.  In June of 2015, Dr. Szekeres stepped down as dean to become the first director of the York Wellness and Rehabilitation Institute, a concept that had been her vision and passion for more than five years.  

The York Institute provides room for further expansion of clinical services including space for nursing and social work. Its mission is to educate students in holistic, person-centered, evidence-based care while providing needed wellness and rehabilitative services to individuals with acquired and developmental disabilities.

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About the Award
An Award that challenges its very name

Samuel Beckett, the novelist and poet observed, “Words are all we have.” If that is true then we need to be mindful of those we use.

The disability field is fond of the word “include,” believing it refers to society embracing and celebrating value in human diversity.  The reality is that the word is derived from the Latin word meaning “to shut in, enclose.” It can mean to “make room for,” “take into account,” “work in,” “accommodate,” and “admit.” All of which, does not describe the Golisano Foundation’s Move to Include Award.

This Award is not given to individuals and organizations that strive to “fit people in,” and “make room” for people with intellectual disabilities. The Award is not intended to honor the movement to include people despite their disabilities; and certainly not because of their disabilities

The Golisano Move to Include Award was designed to demonstrate that inclusion should never be an afterthought, a “make room” effort or a “do over” effort in social justice. The Award points out that in our society there are individuals and organizations that understand that inclusion, true inclusion is not something that is created through a mission statement, a tagline or a bumper sticker. The Move to Include Award celebrates the “movement” - the arduous and tenacious movement  -  that strives to embrace people, not as an afterthought, and equally important to move the psyche of individuals, systems, communities and societies that will one day eliminate the need to offer awards noteworthy for succeeding in “allowing people; people with novelties” to be welcomed into the fold.

We do not learn anything by simply “including,” “allowing,“ or “permitting” others to live and work alongside of us. We do not profit or grow by “accepting,” or even “welcoming” people with disabilities.

We, as a neighborhood, community and society learn, grow and profit by “believing” in the sanctity, value and merit of “together.” The essence of “together” transcends “inclusion.”  The Golisano Award belongs to those who believe that being together, not by mandate, statute or fiat; is the only way we can benefit from the joys, challenges and perspectives that “believing in being together” can be promoted and realized.

The Golisano Move to Include Award is given to those who both “believe” and “act” in the purest realm of the essence of “move to include.” It is given in the hope that the understanding of “include” can be elevated, promoted, ingrained and demonstrated at the highest levels of human behavior.

Award narrative written by Rick Rader, MD, Co-Founder, American Association of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry