Michael Lechner Award


The Michael Lechner Award is given annually to a Kansan with a disability who has effectively advocated for changes in his or her community to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Examples of such changes include improved physical or program access, expansion or enhancement of employment opportunities for people with disabilities, wider inclusion into the community, accessible parking, improved provision of alternative forms of communication, increased access to adequate health care services, and especially powerful legislative advocacy.

The award is named for Michael Lechner, Executive Director of Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns (KCDC) from 1982 through 1990. His advocacy activities had far-reaching results in improving independent living opportunities for Kansans with disabilities.

Michael Lechner Application Form can be submitted to KCDC during the months of June and July.


One of Mike’s most notable successes was in working with the Kansas Legislature and the disability community to change the Nurse Practice Act to allow personal care attendants to provide certain home care services. He used this opportunity to teach people with disabilities how to advocate for changes in the legislature, partner with other disability organizations and see the benefits of advocating for changes that help all people with disabilities.

This effort opened the way for the self-directed Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver. Because of his leadership and the support of advocacy groups and people with disabilities around the state, Kansas’ HCBS program is one of the most progressive in the nation empowering people with disabilities to direct their own care services and stay in their own homes and communities.

A second achievement was the creation of the Disability Caucus. After commissioning a satisfaction survey of Kansans with disabilities, a forum was held to discuss the possible solutions to the issues. This became to first Disability Caucus; a forum that continues to be held bi-annually to give Kansans with disabilities an opportunity to work with others to find solutions for issues of importance.

Former Recipients of the Award

  • 2024 Special Olympics Kansas, Pre-Pandemic Ensemble 
  • 2023 George Beard
  • 2022 The Mission Project
  • 2021 Chris Johns
  • 2020 No award
  • 2019 Josh Alters, Brian Ellefson
  • 2018 Dallas Hathaway, Inclusion Connections KC, Martha Gabehart
  • 2017 Sara Sack, Assistive Technology for Kansans Project
  • 2016 No award
  • 2015 Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy
  • 2014 Lou Ann Colyer, Sharon Joseph, Steve Smith
  • 2013 Eric Harkness, Olathe Advisory Board for People with Disabilities, Ray Petty, Amanda Thompson, and Ranita Wilks
  • 2012 Disability Mentoring Day Local Committees - Beloit, Cherryvale, Dodge City, El Dorado, Fort Scott, Great Bend, Hutchinson, Lawrence, Kansas City Metro, Pittsburg, Pratt, Topeka, Wamego.
  • 2011 Rick Knight
  • 2010 Brian Ellefson, Alita Felts, Persons with Disabilities Advisory Board to the City of Olathe
  • 2009 Bryce Miller, Grady Landrum and Phillip Bowers
  • 2007 Michael Byington
  • 2005 David Calvert
  • 2004 Cecil Walker
  • 2003 Mary Holloway and Brenda Eddy
  • 2001 Howard Moses
  • 1999 Bob Jordan, Troy Horton, Lou Ann Kibbee, Gia Scott and Karen Gulliford

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