President's Award

The President’s Award

May Institute created The President’s Award in 2018 to recognize and honor individuals, organizations or corporations who have achieved professional distinction through hard work and a strong commitment to bringing respectful awareness to and support of autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities or other special needs. It was first awarded at our “An Evening of Hope and Possibility” fundraising event in April of 2018 in Boston.

2019 Award Recipient

We are pleased to recognize VERC Enterprises, a retail convenience store/gasoline and carwash group founded by the Vercollone family of Duxbury, Massachusetts. VERC Enterprises works closely with the communities it serves and is a leader in Massachusetts on employing those with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. With more than 300 employees, VERC has committed to comprising 20% of its workforce with individuals who are intellectually and developmentally disabled.

VERC has been one of May’s vocational training partners since 2011 when two students from the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities began working at their Stoughton and Raynham locations. Since then, more than 20 students have been part-time, paid employees at the independent convenience store and gas station businesses.

Working at VERC allows May’s students a “typical” teenage work experience, where they gain independence, develop pride in their work, and a sense of ownership of a task. Among their job responsibilities are to keep the stores and outdoor spaces clean and tidy by sweeping, vacuuming, and stocking display cases. 

The award will be accepted by CEO Leo Vercollone, who joined his father and brother in the business in 1977. Leo has been active in a number of community organizations including the Boston College Alumni Association Board of Directors, Trinity Catholic Academy, the Gulf Oil Leadership Council, and the New England Convenience Store Association.


The President’s Award may be presented annually by the President and CEO of May Institute to a deserving honoree selected by May’s Executive Leadership. Submit a candidate for the President’s Award online or contact Senior Vice President of Philanthropy Mary Tiernan at

2018 Award Recipient

Sesame Street celebrates the uniqueness of every child as well as what children share in common, and has a long history of tackling important issues from a child’s perspective. That’s why we created Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children, a global initiative fostering understanding about autism.

Developed with input from parents with neuroatypical and neurotypical young children, autism service providers, and autistic adults, See Amazing in All Children offers families step-by-step ways to simplify everyday activities and overcome common challenges—and increases understanding of autism across communities. The smiling face at the center of See Amazing in All Children belongs to Julia—a sweet and curious 4-year-old girl Muppet with autism. Initially appearing in a storybook and online resources, Julia made her television debut on Sesame Street in 2016.

The award was accepted by Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, the Senior Vice President for U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop. She oversees and manages the delivery high impact and targeted domestic and international outreach initiatives. She conceptualizes and implements compelling models for the delivery of Outreach initiatives that effect and engage children, families, caregivers, educators, and other providers. Sesame Workshop outreach initiatives involve the development of research-based multiple media resources designed specifically to meet the needs of children and adults in typically underserved communities, domestically and internationally.