About the Peter Nebenzahl Champions Award

Katie Nebenzahl has lived her whole life with fear and anxiety, but when she feels comfortable, her mother Nancy can see her happiness shine through her eyes. Currently 35, Katie suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while in utero and during her birth, which led to visual impairment, intellectual and developmental delay (IDD), physical limitations, and some autistic qualities. The traumatic birth could have created the initial fear and anxiety that Katie has exhibited throughout her life, which has led to behavioral issues, and resistance in following basic daily routines such as dressing, sitting down for meals, and showering. The consistent, structured care that Katie has received since Koinonia took over the management of her home, however, has been a game-changer.

“The quality of care and the teamwork in the house has been absolutely amazing,” said Nancy. She has seen a dramatic difference in the way Katie responds to her Koinonia direct support professionals (DSPs). “Koinonia really strives to place direct support staff in the house who are a good match for the people they care for,” said Nancy. The DSPs really get to know the individuals they care for, and they truly respect them, noted Nancy. Nancy believes fully in the trauma-informed care that Koinonia provides, as well as the high quality of its staff. “Koinonia expects more from their DSPs, they have a high standard, and they, therefore, get more,” said Nancy. “And they take good care of their employees.” In this same way, Nancy wanted to give back to the Koinonia staff. She worked with the organization to fund a champions award that is dedicated to the memory of her late husband, Peter Nebenzahl and will be given annually to five deserving Koinonia DSPs who are living and applying the principles of trauma-informed care to the people that Koinonia serves. In addition to the award, it funds other costs associated with Koinonia becoming a Trauma-Informed Care Agency.

Katie with her direct support professional Natalie.

2023 Runners Up

  • Jackie Avery – Lamson
  • Dave Bound – Employment Services
  • Jean Edmonds – Solon
  • Catherine Hall – Grayton II
  • Shariese Heard – Brooklyn
  • Cam Hulec-Pace – Brookpark
  • Shemale Lumpkin
  • Evonne Manning – Bunts
  • Vladimiliar Pettaway – Brooklyn
  • Dawn Sbeghen – Brookpark