CEO of LIFEDesigns, Russell J. Bonanno, has been selected to be the recipient of the INARF 2021 James M. Hammond III Executive Leadership Award. INARF plans to honor and pay special tribute to Russell (and Max his service animal) at the 2021 INARF Annual Conference Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, October 6th, Noon – 1:30 PM at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Noblesville Indianapolis Conference Center, 13700 Conference Center Dr. South Noblesville, IN.
Before the Annual Conference Awards Luncheon takes place, INARF asks their agency members to submit nominations for the awards given out. It was fairly easy for our employees to compose this nomination and the endless reasons why Russell deserves this award. The nomination that was submitted on Russell’s behalf is below and perfectly explains why he is so deserving of the 2021 James M. Hammond III Executive Leadership Award:
“Whether he is giving the keynote address at the “Targeting Autism National Forum”, teaching at Boston University Medical School, advocating for greater access to resources or inclusion in the community for individuals with Autism/IDD, or weighing in on the ethical implications about the use of video cameras in clients’ homes and whether they are really necessary, Russ Bonanno works tirelessly to enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities, their families, and their communities.
On any given day in our office, when you see Max (Russ’s service dog) you will soon see Russ. When speaking to him, it is clear that you always have his full attention. If he doesn’t have an immediate solution or piece of advice, you can rest assured that the next time you see or talk to him he will have spent time and done research and can give you a thoughtful response, creative solutions, specific websites to look at, or direct you to other resources to guide you in your quest to figure something out.
His diverse background gives him a unique perspective and allows him to guide those around him to fulfill our agency mission “to partner with and promote independence for people with disabilities”. Russ not only leads the organization, but he guides those around him and develops them by assisting them in solving problems and coming up with creative solutions. Russ meets with all departments on a regular basis to ensure they are making progress on goals and have access to needed resources to get the job done. Russ leads and guides his executive staff by example preferring to trust those around him to come up with their own creative solutions.
With his guidance, our organization has been able to work within our current funding to increase the wages of DSPs to $13.00/hr. because they are critical to our client’s success and the economic sustainability of our agency. This wage increase sets an example for organizations across the state of the value that should be placed on DSPs and the importance of their role in client success. Russ is also working to provide access to development opportunities that will further increase DSPs value to the organization and to the clients with the eventual goal of increasing client outcomes and reducing turnover costs for the agency.
Throughout his life and his entire professional career, Russ has strived to make others’ lives better. He has done this by working directly with clients, families, key stake holders, and other organizations executives. He spends time lobbying elected officials to make them aware of the need for funding that will enhance our employees and clients lives. He spends time developing those around him so they can also make a bigger impact on the quality of services provided to individuals with disabilities. No matter who Russ is talking to, he always has his finger on the pulse of what is happening and is there to guide the ship for the benefit of the clients.”