The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is proud to announce Joan Lipstock and Jan Monroe as the winners of the 2022 Darrel Tillar Mason Excellence in Advocacy Award.
RICHMOND, VA – The Darrel Tillar Mason Excellence in Advocacy Award is named in honor of a notable and longstanding advocate for people with disabilities. Darrell Tillar Mason, founder of the Center for Special Education Advocacy, has tirelessly fought for the inclusion and rights of people with disabilities for over 50 years. Therefore, the Award named in her honor is presented annually by the disAbility Law Center of Virginia (dLCV) to individuals whose work advances independence, choice, and self-determination for people with disabilities.
After reflecting upon the past few years of pandemic living, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia has witnessed the power of art in overcoming isolation and fear. That is why, in 2022, the organization is honoring individuals who have become a beacon of hope and inclusion through the arts. To these ends, dLCV is honoring Joan Babich Lipstock and Jan P. Monroe as the 2022 winners of the Darrel Tillar Mason Excellence in Advocacy Award. The award will be presented to them at this year’s Midsummer Night’s Gala, June 17th at The Cultural Arts Center.
Joan Lipstock has spent over 25 years in community-based advocacy for people with disabilities. In 2004, Lipstock founded Dreamers Theater to create opportunities for young adults with disabilities to become involved with the arts and their peers. As the mother of a child with a disability, Lipstock understood the need for creative adjustments, patience, and perseverance in these artistic efforts. With her leadership and vision, the Dreamers Theater has produced several musicals and was even featured in a 2008 PBS Documentary entitled Dreamers Theater. Throughout the pandemic, Dreamers Theater has continued to serve as a haven for young adults with disabilities throughout Richmond.
Jan Monroe has also dedicated countless hours to supporting individuals with disabilities through the arts. When working as a speech pathologist, Monroe recognized the potential theater could offer the children with whom she worked. With the support of her colleagues, Monroe created Sensory + Theater = Endless Possibilities, now known as STEPVA Inc. STEPVA began as a one-week summer camp, but has now expanded to include several camps, connect groups, workshops, classes, and community events. With Monroe’s leadership, STEPVA has also produced two spring musicals, both of which have connected and supported people with disabilities during this incredibly isolating time.