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Molinaro named public official of the year by state rehabilitation association

Author Abbott Brant
Date September 23, 2016

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro was recognized Wednesday for his continued efforts to improve the lives of Dutchess County residents with special needs.

Molinaro received the Public Official of the Year Award from the New York State Rehabilitation Association at the organization’s annual summit. The award recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals in government service who have made significant contributions to the lives of residents with disabilities.

In 2015, Molinaro established the “Think Differently” initiative, which takes steps to foster a more inclusive community for Dutchess County residents with special needs.

Such steps included appointing a deputy commissioner for special needs, who is tasked with helping residents with special needs navigate service providers and government agencies, and partnering with the Anderson Center for Autism to teach local businesses and organizations how to better communicate with residents with autism. Dutchess County was also home to the 2016 Special Olympics New York State Winter Games and the inaugural Think Differently Dash for residents of all abilities.

In June, Molinaro introduced a resolution to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Board of Directors, on which he serves, to promote the “Think Differently” initiative in all 62 counties in the state. The board of directors unanimously adopted the resolution.

“I am honored to be recognized as this year’s Public Official of the Year. For the past several years, Dutchess County has worked tirelessly for its residents with special needs — from funding projects that assure more accessibility for our neighbors of all abilities to recently appointing our deputy commissioner for special needs, the first position of its kind in New York State,” Molinaro said. “Advocating for residents of all abilities has long been my passion, and I’ve been extremely happy with the response Dutchess County has shown toward our efforts to ‘Think Differently’ about how we interact with our neighbors with special needs.”

Abbott Brant: abrant@poughkeepsiejournal.com; 845-437-4809; Twitter: @AbbottBrantPoJo