Department of Neighborhoods

Press Release

Mayor Parker Presents 2015 Disability Advocate of the Year Awards

December 15, 2015 -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker presented the 2015 Mayor's Disability Advocate of the Year Awards today before members of City Council and a community audience.  The awards honor citizens for outstanding contributions and volunteer service toward improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. 
This year's recipients are Benigno Aceves, Jr. in the "Individual with a Disability" category and City Council Member Brenda Stardig in the "Non-Disabled" category.

“The City of Houston is proud to acknowledge today’s honorees for their dedication to serving people with disabilities," said Mayor Parker.  "They are not only making a positive difference in people's lives but they are also raising public awareness of issues of access, opportunity and equity that we must continue to address.  Through their advocacy, they are impressing upon us the need to focus on people's capabilities, abilities and potential in providing services."

The honorees were selected by an awards committee from a pool of nominations submitted by the public by open invitation.

The Mayor's Disability Advocate of the Year Awards are administered by the Department of Neighborhoods in collaboration with the Houston Commission on Disabilities.

For more information, call 832.394.0814 or visit www.houstontx.gov/disabilities.

About the Award Recipients
Brenda Stardig
Houston City Council Member Brenda Stardig is an influential leader who has lived in District A for more than forty years.  A successful businesswoman in the financial industry and real estate, Council Member Stardig has also made community service a personal priority, dedicating her life to expanding opportunities for others.  In this effort, she has championed the rights of citizens with disabilities.  She has helped wheelchair users in their advocacy for sidewalk repairs in their neighborhoods. She voiced strong support for community-led advocacy for accessibility to City Hall, securing automatic doors for wheelchair users and senior citizens.  She also assisted in securing the installation of audible pedestrian signals at several dangerous street intersections.  Council Member Stardig also serves as a board member of Ms. Wheelchair Texas and is fluent in Sign Language.  In addition, she played a central role in the crafting of revisions to the City’s Code of Ordinances Chapter 46 to achieve maximum public transportation accessibility for people with disabilities.

Benigno Aceves, Jr.
Benigno Aceves, Jr. has over sixteen years’ experience working with adults and children with disabilities. He currently serves as Independent Living Coordinator for the Houston Region with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Division for Blind Services.  He has worked at Lone Star Community College in the Assistive Technology Lab.  He has also worked with Houston Aldine Independent School District, providing services for children with severe to minor intellectual disorders. Benigno has chaired citywide events and fundraisers to increase public awareness and support for those who have a disability, in particular those who have vision loss.  He furthers this cause by partnering with employers to break down barriers and develop job opportunities and accessible work environments. Benigno works to instill confidence in those who are disabled, motivating them to focus on their abilities to accomplish their goals. Benigno holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Houston-Downtown and Teacher’s Certification from Lone Star College.