2020 Dot Sowerby Pioneer Award

The recipient this year is Carol Doles

Carol Doles

For her many contributions to the NSDA as Support Group Leader, Eastern Region and Canada Representative, and member of the NSDA Support Leadership and Support Committees – using her leadership skills to support, educate, and raise awareness about spasmodic dysphonia and related voice conditions

In 2015, the NSDA created the Dot Sowerby Pioneer Award to recognize an individual who has made a significant positive impact on the NSDA community. In 2020, the NSDA bestows this award for the sixth time. We wish to recognize Carol Doles for the commitment and leadership for the NSDA that she has shown for a number of years. The NSDA salutes her and is most grateful for her extraordinary service. She is an enthusiastic, empathetic, and organized leader who once stated: “SD can be tough. Let’s navigate through it together.”

While living in Columbus, OH, Carol founded the Greater Columbus OH SD Support Group in 2008. During the NSDA Eastern Regional Symposium in 2010, Carol served as a panelist for the discussion on living with SD. In 2010, there was a newspaper article written about Carol overcoming spasmodic dysphonia and her ability to continue teaching. In her words: “Education is important. Before I got my diagnosis, I didn’t know how to help myself. Once I knew, I could take charge. I don’t want people to give up. I want them to know that support is out there.”

After relocating from Ohio to Virginia in 2010, Carol founded another group, the Central Virginia SD Support Group. In 2016, the NSDA presented Carol and the Central Virginia group with the Midge Kovacs Annual Awareness Award. In 2018, during her tenure in Virginia, Carol organized a successful SD Symposium presented by UVA with 60 in attendance. The proceedings were videographed.

Since then, Carol has relocated back to Ohio and she is actively involved with the Columbus group. In 2018, she presented them with the Midge Kovacs Annual Award which she accepted on their behalf during our 2018 Leadership Workshop in Texas.

As a member of the Support Group Leadership Committee, Carol was instrumental in the development of the Support Group Topics Workbook, which is one of the key resources provided by the NSDA for its leaders in our on-line leadership reference library. She has served on the Planning Committee for a number of our NSDA Leadership Workshops. She participates in conference calls on leadership. She serves in Administration of the NSDA Support Leadership Facebook Group. In addition, she wrote an article for Our Voice in 2015 entitled “Advocating For One’s Health”. In it, she reflected: “My adventure with spasmodic dysphonia especially the years of misdiagnosis and the struggle to find the treatment option that worked well for me, have helped prepare me for life’s trials.”

Carol also serves the NSDA as Eastern Region and Canada Representative. In this capacity, she works with Support Group leaders in 20 states and in Canada. She dialogs with fellow Support Group Leaders in this extensive region through comprehensive emails that she writes, filled with resources and tips. She helps other support groups even outside of her Region and communicates with the NSDA regularly. She also corresponds with newly identified spasmodic dysphonia patients and gives them information about the NSDA and local support options.

In her award-winning essay for the NSDA “Share Your Story Contest”, she commented: “I feel blessed to have SD. Without it, I would have missed so many wonderful experiences and meeting so many wonderful people.” Carol Doles is a consummate educator who always asks how she can help. She lets people in the NSDA community know that she is here to serve. According to Carol, “I cannot begin to put into words how valuable the NSDA has been and continues to be in my coping successfully with SD.”

According to Carol, “I felt humbled and honored to receive the award. Dot was one of the first to welcome me and let me know that I was not alone in my journey with SD. Dot provided valuable mentorship and included me in her network of leaders. These leaders have all supported, taught, and encouraged me every step of the way. My goal has been to follow in these great examples and let every SDer know that a community awaits them. Living well with SD is within their reach.”