Mizen honored for her work helping people with disabilities at Horizons
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Longtime Steamboat Springs resident Susan Mizen, executive director of Horizons Specialized Services, wasn’t seeking the spotlight when the leadership team of the nonprofit nominated her for the coveted Jane Covode Award.
“I’m not someone who is particularly comfortable with public recognition, so it was a little uncomfortable when the award was presented to me,” Mizen said. “But now that it’s over, I’m really honored.”
The award was presented to Mizen by Alliance Colorado at the group’s annual summit in Breckenridge last week.
Alliance Colorado is a nonprofit, statewide association of community-centered boards and program-approved service agencies dedicated to strengthening services and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Jane Covode Award, which is named after the Alliance’s first executive director, is the highest recognition Alliance presents. The award celebrates exemplary effort, integrity, passion and long-term commitment to the intellectual and developmental disability system and the people it serves.
“Outside of our field, it’s not something that anyone would have heard of,” Mizen said. “But within the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities, it’s a big deal.”
Mizen said when she first learned the leadership team at Horizons planned to nominate her, she was reluctant.
“I feel really proud of what we have accomplished at Horizons here in Northwest Colorado, but I just didn’t feel like I had a big enough impact at the state level to warrant a statewide award,” Mizen said. “In the end I figured that if it brought recognition to Horizons and to the people we support and to our mission that it would be OK for them to nominate me.”
For Mizen, who is planning on retiring at the end of the year, the award recognizes 38 years of commitment. But Mizen said the award would not be possible without the staff that surrounds her.
Mizen started working with Horizons as a volunteer teaching cross-county skiing. She officially joined the organization in 1981 and has helped the nonprofit grow from a grassroots initiative to a comprehensive community leader with a budget of more than $6 million. Last year, Horizons provided services to 88 adults and 157 children and touched 103 families across five counties in Northwest Colorado.
Throughout her career Mizen has a track record of making things happen. In the 1980s she led the group’s efforts to invest in four group homes and rent several spaces in Steamboat Springs and Craig. She also helped pass a property tax to support Horizons in 2005, and six years later, she successfully pursued a $1.27 million HUD grant to build an eight-unit independent, transitional living complex in downtown Steamboat.
She also served on the executive committee of Alliance Colorado for multiple terms, and most recently, was secretary and chair of member services.
“I think I’ve been a steady person who they could rely on if they needed some rural representation on that executive committee,” Mizen said. “It’s an important function because Alliance has grown, and the member services committee vets the new applications for membership.”
Alliance members across Colorado provide services for roughly 10,000 individuals with developmental disabilities.
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