DH has dealt with some similar issues at work with his boss, who likes to rewrite corporate policy to suit his own preferences. This is one example. Bear with me here ...
There was a temporary change in the dress code policy for the summer. The policy was relaxed, and jeans were allowed. HR sent the directive to all staff stating that jeans could be worn. DH (a mid-level manager) and his peers began wearing jeans, as did their subordinates.
DH's boss, upon seeing that management staff also were wearing jeans, stated during a meeting that they should not be wearing jeans; the relaxed dress code applied only to subordinate staff, he said. He reprimanded them (as a group) for wearing jeans, saying they should have known better, it was unprofessional of them to wear jeans, and they should have asked permission as managers. They weren't written up, but Boss did admonish them.
The problem was that HR's directive about the relaxed dress code made no distinction about management vs. subordinate staff wearing jeans. DH and his peers went to HR and asked for clarification about the dress code, stating that Boss had indicated it didn't apply to management. If Boss's take on the policy were true, then some directive should be put out to indicate that. HR confirmed that the relaxed dress code applied to *all* staff, management included. They took that response to Boss, who was forced to backtrack and admit he was wrong in admonishing them. DH and his peers enjoyed the benefit of the relaxed dress code throughout the summer just as their subordinates did.
Based on that experience, I think if Director reprimands anyone for nominating Supervisor for this recognition, the first step should be clarifying the nomination process with HR. If there is no requirement that Director must approve nominations, then HR will indicate that. If there is such a requirement, you'll know for the future. I would ask HR to clarify the process with Director. My assumption based on your description is that there is no such requirement. Otherwise, I can't imagine why HR and Administrator would have accepted your nominations of Supervisor in the first place.