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Governor’s Employer Awards Program

Resources on this page include: Overview | ProcessToby Olson Award | Photos | Subcommittee Members | Past Award Recipients 

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.

Nomination process

To read instructions about the nomination process, please utilize the link below: 

Nomination process instructions

Nominations now closed for 2023!

Help us spread the word about this year's event!

View the flyer here!

View the brochure here!

This year's luncheon will be held at the Wenatchee Convention Center on Friday, October 6! Stay tuned for more info, we are looking forward to 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 at our event! 

The Toby Olson Lifetime Impact Award Nomination Process is live!

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.

We are pleased to share the photos from our event on Friday, October 22, 2022!

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/196852833@N08/  

The national anthem video can be viewed here, and stay tuned for a video of the full ceremony (coming soon!)

To read the full transcript from the ceremony, click here. To view the press release about recipients, click here.

The program celebrated it's 29th anniversary in 2021 with a virtual ceremony that can be viewed here (please note, Dropbox will display a 15 minute preview by default. To view the whole video, you must click the "Download" button in the top right corner). You can also read the announcement about recipients

Subcommittee Members

Subcommittee members

  1. Yvonne Bussler-White
  2. Amy Cloud
  3. Clarence Eskridge
  4. Cullyn Foxlee
  5. Janet Bruckshen (Chair)
  6. Ryan Bondroff (Staff)
  7. Kevin Frankeberger
  8. Daniel Ledgett
  9. Matt Nash
  10. Mike Hatch
  11. Pat Bauccio
  12. Tammy Pitre
  13. 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 

Kittitas County

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