Governor’s Employer Awards Program
About the program
Recognizes and promotes the achievements of employers, organizations and individuals who have improved employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Each year, nominations begin in May and run through the end of August. Categories include Small, Medium, and Large Private, Non-Profit, Public, and Youth Employers of the Year. The Direct Support Professional Award is a lifetime achievement award also presented to an individual within the field of supported employment. The Governor's Trophy is another lifetime achievement award presented to an individual with a disability. Finally, the Toby Olson Legacy Award is a new lifetime achievement award in its third year of accepting nominations, that recognizes an individual who has made a lifetime commitment to addressing the inequities people with disabilities face in their community and at the state and national levels and can demonstrate specific, direct actions dramatically changing the lives of those in the disability community.
To read instructions about the nomination process, please utilize the link below:
Nominations now closed for 2023!
- Thank you to all who submitted a nomination!
- For questions, email us at: GCDEAwards@esd.wa.gov.
View photos and the press release from this year's event!
Attendees, if you have additional photos you'd like to share, please send them to: GCDEAwards@esd.wa.gov. Hover over the photo below and click the arrow that appears on the right to scroll through the photos. They can also be viewed at the link here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/199340556@N07
To view the press release about recipients, click here.
View the brochure here!
This year's luncheon was at the Wenatchee Convention Center on Friday, October 6! Stay tuned for more info, it was a great event!
Thank you to our sponsors, Microsoft, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Washington State Employees Credit Union, Employment Security Department, Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Office of Financial Management, Department of Services for the Blind, SkillSource Regional Workforce Board, and Department of Enterprise Services!
Learn more about the Dan Thompson Employment Rallies!
The GCDE is proud to present the Toby Olson Lifetime Impact Award, honoring an individual who embodies the qualities and characteristics of the late Toby Olson, and has made a lifetime commitment to addressing the inequities those with disabilities face in their community and at the state and national levels and can demonstrate specific, direct actions dramatically changing the lives of those in the disability community!
GCDE is implementing a two-step process for this Award. The first step is a Letter of Intent prepared by the nominator and an Endorsement Letter prepared by a current, former or emeritus GCDE Member. GCDE will review the information provided in the first step to determine if the nomination should proceed. The nominator will be advised by telephone or by email whether the submission will be approved to move forward. Following approval, the second step requires completion of an official nomination packet and supporting material which will then be reviewed by the Judging Panel. A link to the official Toby Olson Nomination will be included in the GCDE approval letter.
Use the forms below to complete Step 1 of the process to nominate an individual for the Toby Olson Award:
Letter of Intent (to be submitted by the Nominator)
Letter of Endorsement (to be submitted by a Current, Former, or Emeritus GCDE Member).
These forms should be saved and emailed to Awards Program staff for review at: GCDEAwards@esd.wa.gov. Nominations for this award are accepted year round. To be considered for the following October's ceremony, nominations must be received by July 31 of the current year.
- Yvonne Bussler-White, Chair
- Amy Cloud
- Clarence Eskridge
- Cullyn Foxlee
- Janet Bruckshen (Chair)
- Ryan Bondroff (Staff)
- Kevin Frankeberger
- Daniel Ledgett
- Matt Nash, Vice-Chair
- Mike Hatch
- Pat Bauccio
- Tammy Pitre
- Lucas Doelman
Previous Award Recipients
Awards recipients 2016-2017
2016 Large Non-Profit Employer of the Year – Battelle/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory;
2016 Medium Non-Profit Employer of the Year – Excelsior Youth Center;
2016 Small Private Employer of the Year – InsideWorks;
2016 Youth Employer Award of the Year – Little Anchor Daycare;
2016 Large Private Employer of the Year – Microsoft;
2016 Local Government Employer of the Year – Snohomish County;
2016 Medium Private Employer of the Year – Sodexo - Walla Walla University Team;
2016 Small Non-Profit Employer of the Year – Washington Access Fund;
2016 State Public Employer of the Year – Washington State Department of Licensing;
2016 Governor's Trophy – Emily Cooper;
2016 Direct Support Professional – Sue Ann Lemkin
Awards recipients 2017
2017 Governor's Trophy – Mark Adreon;
2017 Direct Support Professional – Bonnie Sinclair;
2017 Medium Non-Profit Employer of the Year – Bridgeways;
2017 Large Private Employer of the Year – Seattle Mariners;
2017 Medium Private Employer of the Year – Port Angeles Safeway;
2017 Small Private Employer of the Year – Northwest Trophy;
2017 Youth Employer of the Year – Seattle Children's;
2017 Public Employer of the Year – City of Seattle
Award recipients 2018-2019
2018 Governor's Trophy Don Kay
2018 Direct Support Professional Paula Bouwer
2018 Medium Non-Profit Employer of the Year Cascade Public Media
2018 Large Private Employer of the Year Fred Meyer #122
2018 Medium Private Employer of the Year Kulshan Brewing Co.
2018 Small Private Employer of the Year Gigglechops Dog Wash
2018 Youth Employer of the Year Educational Service District 123
2018 Public Employer of the Year City of Bellevue
Awards recipients 2019
2019 Governor's Trophy Duane French
2019 Direct Support Professional Collen Thornburg
2019 Small Non-Profit Employer of the Year Bella's Voice
2019 Large Private Employer of the Year Huntwood Industries
2019 Medium Private Employers of the Year Quality Inn/Welcome Home Oak Harbor
Welcome Home Oak Harbor Senior Memory Care
2019 Small Private Employer of the Year Jerrol's
2019 Youth Employer of the Year Swedish Edmonds Hospital
2019 Public Employers of the Year Seattle Army Corps/Employment Security/Kittitas Co
The Washington State Employment Security Department
2019 Toby Olson Legacy Award Toby Olson
Awards recipients 2020
2020 Direct Support Professional Debra Tan
2020 Small Non-Profit Employer of the Year Community Seeds / Calico Cat Café
2020 Large Private Employer of the Year MOD Pizza, Washington
2020 Medium Private Employer of the Year Safeway Store #1448, Sequim
2020 Small Private Employer of the Year Papa Murphy’s Lake Forest Park
2020 Public Employer of the Year King County Road Services Division
2020 Toby Olson Legacy Award Mike Hatch
2020 Governor's Trophy Dave Reynolds
Awards recipients 2021
2021 Direct Support Professional - Cathy Eylar
2021 Toby Olson Legacy Award - David Lord
2021 Small Private Employer - Bean Box
2021 Medium Private Employer - Tomlinson Linens
2021 Large Private Employer - Amazon
2021 Small Non-Profit Employer - DBSC
2021 Youth Employer - King County Wastewater Treatment Division
Awards recipients 2022
Governor’s Trophy: Ivanova Smith
Direct Support Professional: Mary Sabetto
Small Private Employer: Restoration Management Company
Medium Private Employer: JCPenney Marysville
Large Private Employer: ABM Business & Industry
Small Non-Profit Employer: Spectrum Studios
Large Non-Profit Employer: Seattle Children’s Hospital
Youth Employer: Walgreen’s Sedro-Woolley
Award recipients 2023
Chuck E. Cheese Burlington - Youth Employer of the Year Award
Center for Independence - Small Non-Profit Employer of the Year Award
New Leaf, Inc. – Medium Non-Profit Employer of the Year Award
Juanita KinderCare - Small Private Employer of the Year Award
Thompson Seattle - Medium Private Employer of the Year Award
Thrive Communities - Large Private Employer of the Year Award
Washington State Department of Financial Institutions – Medium Public (State) Employer of the Year Award
City of Kent – Large Public (City) Employer of the Year Award
Washington State Health Care Authority – Large Public (State) Employer of the Year Award
Washington River Protection Solutions – Large Public (Federal) Employer of the Year Award
The committee also acknowledged:
Marci Carpenter with the Governor’s Trophy in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown. This award, named after a former GCDE member, is the highest honor given to someone with a disability who has significantly empowered people with disabilities in Washington. Carpenter was recognized for:
Supporting parents of blind children who receive needed education.
Helping the City of Seattle be more ADA compliant.
Fighting for disability equality in the Legislature.
Decades of working with state and national federations to fight for the rights of people with disabilities in all areas of life.
Anja Post with the Direct Support Professional of the Year Award. Post, in her 32-plus year career, has built many relationships with employers in her community, giving her the ability to quickly place the right person in the right position. Post also creates relationships with her clients. She gets to know the whole person, enabling her to understand not only their interests, but their strengths and weaknesses as employees and as people.