Congressman Kennedy Honors Down Syndrome Group Leader as Ambassador of the Year

Maureen Gallagher accepts a National Down Syndrome Society Champion of Change Award at the annual Buddy Walk® on Washington.
Apr 11, 2017 Mark

Press Release ( - Washington, DC - Apr 11, 2017 - Making a surprise appearance, Congressman Joe Kennedy III introduced and presented MDSC Executive Director Maureen Gallagher with a NDSS Champion of Change Award for Ambassador of the Year.

The presentation, at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., was part of the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk on Washington, where over 400 people from across the country gathered to advocate for legislative priorities that positively impact the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families.

Ms. Gallagher accepted her award during an emotional ceremony at the Awards Luncheon on April 5. She was not aware that Congressman Kennedy would be presenting her with her award.

“Being from Massachusetts, there is one person in particular who has guided and inspired our work in addressing challenges faced by our friends, neighbors and families with Down syndrome, and that’s Maureen Gallagher,” Congressman Kennedy said. “She isn’t here today because it’s her job, she’s here today because she believes in the abilities of every single person in this room. She wants to make this nation, this world a little kinder, a little fairer for those with Down syndrome. She’s here because this fight matters and because we will never again allow people with Down syndrome to be overlooked and forgotten. And I am here because of Maureen.”

Ms. Gallagher has served as executive director of the MDSC for the last 10 years. Because of her leadership and vision, the MDSC over the last decade has grown to become one of the strongest statewide Down syndrome organizations in the country.

“Maureen’s attention to individuals with Down syndrome and their families coupled with her passion and enthusiasm to create systemic changes that positively impact the Down syndrome community in Massachusetts is simply unparalleled,” said MDSC Director of Communications Josh Komyerov.  “It is because of her incredible ability to prioritize both the big picture issues in our community and the need to be responsive on a very personal level that has made her a true changemaker. No matter how much the MDSC has grown during her 10 years at the helm, she has made sure that we continue to maintain our close connection to our community.”

Maureen has spearheaded the MDSC’s public policy efforts, through working with administration officials and legislative leaders, as well as organized mobilization of our community, ultimately leading to the passage of landmark laws like the Down Syndrome Information Act, the Real Lives Bill, National Background Check Bill, and the Organ Transplant Bill  here in Massachusetts and helping pass the ABLE Act federally. These policy changes are having positive impacts on countless lives throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. The MDSC organized its first Down Syndrome Advocacy Day at the State House in 2014, which has become an annual event, allowing our members to foster personal relationships with lawmakers and giving our community significant influence on Beacon Hill. (The 4th Annual Down Syndrome Advocacy Day at the State House will be held Tuesday, May 9 in front of the State House’s Grand Stairwell.)

According to Sara Weir, President of the NDSS, ““We are thrilled to recognize Maureen with our NDSS Champion of Change award for her tireless advocacy on behalf of all individuals with Down syndrome. It is a true pleasure to advocate with and alongside Maureen each and every day as we fight for the human rights of all individuals with Down syndrome in our country.”

Caption for Group Photo: Maureen Gallagher (right) with her daughter and granddaughter, Congressman Kennedy (center), NDSS President Sara Hart Weir (left), and MDSC Legislative Specialist John Anton.


The National Down Syndrome Society is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS provides state-of-the-art, comprehensive programming to all individuals with Down syndrome and their families with four main areas of programming which include: the National Advocacy & Policy Center, the National Buddy Walk® Program, Community Outreach and Resources and Public Awareness. NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities. For more information visit


The MDSC offers a broad array of programs to serve people with Down syndrome and their families throughout the state, including: our signature Parent’s First Call Program, a volunteer, state-wide group of trained parent mentors available 24/7 that is a national model; two major annual conferences that draw national and international experts in their fields; a Buddy Walk® Program that gives individuals, schools, community groups, and local businesses an opportunity to get involved in fundraising campaigns and events year-round;  Self-Advocate Programs like Advocates in Motion and our Self-Advocate Advisory Council, which provide opportunities for teens and adults with Down syndrome while making empowerment a central component; and the Your Next Star Employment Campaign, which is opening the eyes of employers to the value of people with Down syndrome in the workforce.

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