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Health Partners Plans Employees Honored for Working with Intellectually Disabled Citizens

Philadelphia Intellectual disAbility Services Bestows My City, My Place Brighter Futures Awards

Philadelphia, PA — Philadelphia Intellectual disAbility Services (IDS), whose mission is to create, promote, and enhance the supports and services available to individuals with an intellectual disability in Philadelphia County, will recognize two employees of Health Partners Plans (HPP), an innovative not-for-profit managed care organization, with the 2018 My City, My Place Brighter Futures Awards this week. These awards honor those who commit their lives to supporting people with intellectual disabilities and who serve as models of excellence, compassion, commitment, growth and achievement in our communities. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, among other dignitaries, will be in attendance to recognize the honorees.

Vonda Pearson, HPP health and wellness coordinator, will receive the My City, My Place Brighter Futures Award for her volunteer work teaching Zumba and line dancing classes at COMHAR, a comprehensive human services organization serving individuals with disabilities in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Northampton Counties. Pearson began working in 2016 with a COMHAR client in Philadelphia who was overweight and who struggled to exercise though she enjoyed dancing. While Pearson had no previous experience working with people with intellectual disabilities, she was eager to help and said, “If it helps her lose weight and saves her life, I would be willing to dance with her all night.”

After working with Pearson for several months, COMHAR’s client lost 51 pounds and became able to line dance and Zumba for an hour. Pearson now teaches two line dancing and Zumba classes a week for COMHAR students and notes that teaching them requires patience and love, but they reward her with genuine affection and an eagerness to learn.

Leah French, HPP special needs unit manager, received an Honorable Mention for being a longtime advocate for those with intellectual disabilities and for ensuring that HPP members obtain quality health care through the Special Needs Unit, whether that’s a doctor’s appointment, durable medical equipment or medication. French also collaborates with Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care (PCHC), which supports individuals with an intellectual disability living in Southeastern Pennsylvania, on training sessions and has organized and delivered many educational presentations at local and regional conferences on intellectual disabilities.

“We’re so pleased that Vonda and Leah are being honored with these prestigious awards recognizing their selfless commitment to serving those with intellectual disabilities,” said HPP President and CEO William S. George. “They truly exemplify our mission to improve the lives of the community members we serve, and we commend them for their invaluable work.”

This year’s awards ceremony will be held March 28 at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel where the daylong celebration will include a morning program, breakout sessions and the awards luncheon. This year’s theme is “Transitions: Steps in a Meaningful Life.”


Health Partners Plans, an innovative not-for-profit managed care organization, is the only Medicaid plan in Pennsylvania and is among just 11 Medicaid plans nationwide with an accreditation status of Excellent as of September 26, 2017. This is the highest status bestowed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Health Partners Plans serves more than 282,000 members in Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh/Capital region. It provides a broad range of health coverage options through its Health Partners Medicare, Health Partners (Medicaid) and KidzPartners (Children’s Health Insurance Program) plans. Founded more than 32 years ago, Health Partners Plans is one of the few hospital-owned health plans in the country. Learn more about how Health Partners Plans is doing it right at, and

Monet T. Irving
Director, Corporate Communications