Gov. Chris Christie receives Betty Pendler Award from Community Options

Community Options, Inc., a national nonprofit supporting people with disabilities, recently presented former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with the Betty Pendler Award in recognition of his exceptional leadership in advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.

The award was presented to Christie at the Union League of Philadelphia by Community Options Chair Dorothy Goodwin and Geraldo Rivera, whose exposé revealed gruesome conditions at the Willowbrook State School and helped launch the deinstitutionalization movement in the United States.

This prestigious award is named in honor of Betty Pendler, who fought tirelessly for the interests of people with disabilities. Having a daughter with Down Syndrome, Pendler worked tirelessly to educate the public and policymakers on the capabilities of people with disabilities. She brought a parents’ perspective into the national conversation.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Betty Pendler Award from Community Options,” Christie said. “Throughout my time as governor and beyond, I have been inspired by the resilience, strength, and spirit of individuals with disabilities. While I am humbled by this recognition, I also see it as a reminder that there is much work left to be done. I am committed to continuing my advocacy, alongside Community Options, to ensure that every American has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Community Options is a national nonprofit organization that develops innovative housing and employment supports for 6,000 people with disabilities and families across 12 states. Community Options presents the Betty Pendler Award each year to an individual who best exemplifies the mission of the organization.

“We are thrilled to honor Governor Christie with our most prestigious award,” Robert Stack, Community Options’ founder, president and CEO said. “Throughout his tenure as governor and in the years since, Governor Christie has proven himself a tireless champion for people with disabilities and their families. He was the catalyst for our expansion into Iowa and developing our innovative employment program in Arizona.”

Christie successfully advocated to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for Community Options to manage the closure of the Glenwood Resource Center, a state-run institution in Southwest Iowa that housed 150 people with disabilities. Community Options will transition all of the residents back to the community by June of 2024.

Additionally, Christie advocated to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to fund Community Options’ development of a Daily Plan It, an entrepreneurial business that trains and employs people with disabilities. The Daily Plan It of Arizona will provide competitive and integrated employment to people with significant disabilities in the greater Phoenix area.