The 2016-2017 NH Leadership Series Concludes with Gala and Graduation

April 17, 2016

NH Leadership Gala Marquee

DURHAM, N.H. – On Saturday, April 16, 2016 29 individuals from across New Hampshire graduated from the 2015-2016 New Hampshire Leadership Series (NH Leadership).

Saturday’s graduation was the end of a busy week which included the Annual Reunion Gala and Fundraiser on Friday, April 15. The most successful event thus far, more than 125 alumni, families, and supporters joined the 2015-16 class to celebrate the program, catch up with classmates, and together raised more than $12,000 to support future years of NH Leadership.

During the Gala, Bonnie Dunham, received the Brianna Dillon Leadership Award, for her decades of work as a champion for education, social justice, and civil rights for individuals with disabilities and their families. This award is presented annually at the NH Leadership Reunion to an individual who has shown creative leadership in, and commitment to, the full participation of all people in the political and cultural life of New Hampshire.

“Bonnie was a member of the first NH Leadership Class in 1988 and has been an expert in teaching many NH citizens about the special education process and regulations,” shares Ann Dillon, NH Leadership Series Coordinator. “She is so talented and has been a great leader in NH. The IOD and NH Leadership is proud to award this year’s Leadership medal to Bonnie.”

The gala is supported by many individuals and organizations across the state. Sponsors of this year’s event include Center on Aging and Community Living, New Hampshire Healthy Families, Community Bridges, Community Crossroads, Community Partners, Gateways Community Services, Lakes Region Community Services, the RENEW Project, WellSense Health Plan, Stratham Tire, Heidi Spencer at Keller-Williams, Portsmouth Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, All-Ways Accessible, Grappone Automotive Group, Proulx Oil & Propane, and Spinney Associates. Thank you to the many people who donated gifts to make our silent auction possible.

NH Leadership is an intensive, eight-month program that provides leadership and advocacy training for individuals with disabilities and their family members. Since 1988, the program has been a pivotal change experience for family members and adults with disabilities by providing state-of-the-art information and strategies to effect change on disability-related issues locally and across the state. As a result of the work of its hundreds of alumni, NH has achieved national recognition for its innovative approaches to supporting people with disabilities and their families in their communities. Alumni of the program have passed state legislation, founded advocacy organizations, and serve at all levels of New Hampshire local and state government. For more information visit

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire was established in 1987 to provide a university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Its mission is to promote full access, equal opportunities, and participation for all persons by strengthening communities and advancing policy and systems change, promising practices, education, and research.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.