FREDERICKSBURG, VA—STEPVA founder and executive director Jan Monroe was honored recently as one of the two recipients of the Darrel Tillar Mason Excellence in Advocacy Award from the disAbility Law Center of Virginia (dLCV).

The award is given “to individuals whose work advances independence, choice, and self-determination for people with disabilities.” It is named for Darrel Tillar Mason, founder of the Center for Special Education Advocacy, who the dLCV describes as “having tirelessly fought for the inclusion and rights of people with disabilities for over 50 years.”

The dLCV wanted to acknowledge the power of art in overcoming isolation and fear, especially that which many disabled people experienced in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization chose to honor two individuals who exemplified inclusion through the arts and bestowed the 2022 Darrel Tillar Mason awards Joan Lipstock, of Dreamers Theater in Richmond, and Monroe.

The two were recognized at the dLCV Midsummer Night’s Gala, on June 17, 2022, at the The Cultural Arts Center in Glen Allen, Va.

Bill Fitzgerald, evening news anchor for WTVR in Richmond, and one of two emcees for the evening, described Monroe and Lipstock as “beacons of hope for people with disabilities,” in their respective communities, before Darrel Tillar Mason herself presented the awards.

“I am humbled and grateful of the recognition bestowed upon me this evening by Kelly Nelson, Brigid O’Leary, and the Disability Law Center of Virginia. I am also encouraged by this commitment to recognize the extraordinary efforts of non-profit organizations and individuals who connect the disability community with theatre and creative arts opportunities,” Monroe said during her acceptance speech. “This honor also energizes STEP VA’s commitment to enable people with disabilities to develop their full potential through creative expression. Through the arts, ALL people can be heard regardless of perceived barriers.”

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