Affiliate of the Year:  Down Syndrome Alabama

The Down Syndrome Affiliate of the Year is awarded to an DSAIA member who has demonstrated something extraspecial. Sometimes it is a big win—a new program, a successful capital campaign, a pivot when the country is in crisis. Other times is a show of enormous strength or generosity within the down syndrome community. In all of those situations, the Affiliate of the Year is a tremendous sign of recognition and respect.


This year’s Affiliate of the Year, Down Syndrome Alabama, has had an interesting trajectory. They have been around for a while but, as sometimes happens, they found themselves without an Executive Director and in need of a reset. Then, a new Executive Director was hired--Missy Haugherty.  A re-birth occurred, and there was renewed interest in the purpose of the organization and a new commitment to core values! In just ten months, they revitalized advocacy, education, and connections. They did their first our state-wide March to the capital. They got their governor to issue a state proclamation for Down Syndrome Awareness Month. They did workshops, lunch and learn sessions, and scholarships to five students with Down Syndrome to attend post-secondary college and university programs in Alabama. And they are most proud of the connections they have made in their community. Down syndrome Alabama has used many of their fundraising events as events that connect: connect families to each other, connect families to supportive businesses and organizations, and connect families to the local community. In fact, they did so many events this past year, we can’t even begin to list them! Here is just one example: the Empowerment Art Project. They partnered with an artist and visual storyteller to create an original piece symbolizing the pillars of their organization: education, advocacy, and connections. The artist created an empowerment bird for new parents to make them brave and strong during those early days of parenthood to children with Down syndrome.

Learn more about Down Syndrome Alabama by visiting downsyndromealabamaorg.