Ann Dillon and Forrest Beaudoin Honored at the NH Leadership Annual Fundraising Gala

DURHAM, N.H. – On Friday, April 12, 2019, the NH Leadership Series celebrated their 1000th graduate at Fratello’s in Manchester, NH. During the celebration, Ann Dillon received the Brianna Dillon Leadership Award and Forrest Beaudoin-Friede received the inaugural Annie Forts UP with Leadership Award.

Ann Dillon received the Brianna Dillon Leadership Award, for her decades of work as an advocate for people with disabilities in the areas of employment, self-directed care, education, and rights. 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. Ann Dillon, one of the driving forces of the NH Leadership Series and part of its inaugural class, retired at the end of January. In addition to her work with Leadership, Ann also coordinated off-site clinical placements for the NH-ME LEND program, was their Family & Clinical Faculty member, and supported the GEMSS (Genetics Educations Materials for School Success).

“Ann Dillon taught me the value of making connections in everything I do,” shares Deborah Genthner, NH Leadership Series Coordinator. “The connections she developed over the course of her career have made a lasting impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families throughout New Hampshire.”

The inaugural Annie Forts UP with Leadership Award, established by the Annie Forts UP Foundation, was given to a Leadership Graduate who embodies the work Annie Forts advocated for during her life. Forrest Beaudoin-Friede, a 2018 Leadership Series graduate, was awarded for his efforts to promote human rights and disability justice.  In his early years, Beaudoin-Friede, a graduate of Conval High School, led anti bullying efforts to working on disability specific issues related to access to health care and employment, full community inclusion, and enhancing the skills of doctors when giving a disability diagnosis.  As a member of the IOD’s Consumer Advisory Council, the NH Developmental Disabilities Council, and ABLE NH, Beaudoin-Friede has many opportunities to promote the message of creating schools and communities where everyone belongs.

During his acceptance speech – a highlight of the evening – Forrest shared, “Whether we are teaching families to raise their expectations of children with disabilities; or telling schools to make inclusion real; or demanding businesses invest in employing people with disabilities- we must work together.  Advocacy is a team sport.”   

Forrest’s full speech is available to read online.

The Leadership Gala was supported by many individuals and organizations across the state. Thank you to our Gold Sponsor, Community Crossroads, and Silver Sponsor, Living Innovations.

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