Michael Gamel-McCormick addresses a group during the Leadership Institute for University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

Educating leaders

UD Leadership Institute supports developmental disabilities programs

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1:26 p.m., July 2, 2012--Senior leaders from major research universities around the United States met at the University of Delaware last week to discuss how to best provide quality services, supports and technical assistance to the people with disabilities, families, communities and states they serve.

Hosted by the University of Delaware’s National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities (NLCDD), this was the first national assembly of the Leadership Institute for University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs). The Center for Disabilities Studies within the College of Education and Human Development is a UCEDD, one of 78 centers nationwide.

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Senior UCEDD leaders from Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia, California, North Dakota, Vermont, Utah, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Ohio spent the week of June 25 learning new leadership skills relevant to university affiliated centers that are designed to bridge the academic community with families, people with disabilities and state and local systems of support.

The NLCDD is a partnership of 11 major national disabilities organizations.

"The Leadership Institute is the only national effort focused on leadership development in the field of developmental disabilities and their families," explained Steven Eidelman, H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Human Services and Policy and Leadership at UD and faculty director of the University’s NLCDD. “The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities was established at the University of Delaware to develop and support the quality and commitment of the next generation of leaders for government and nonprofit organizations as they serve people with developmental disabilities.”

"Attending the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities has been fulfilling both professional and personally," shared Amy Sharp, associate director of the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University. "I have gained leadership skills and professional focus in addition to creating new relationships with colleagues and networks from around the country."

Guest faculty included the UCEDD directors from the University of Iowa, Bob Bacon; Indiana University, David Mank; and New York Medical College, Ansley Bacon. These three highly successful programs are frequently cited by federal policymakers for meeting the requirements of their universities as well as providing quality services, supports and technical assistance to the communities they serve.

Additional guest faculty included Sharon Lewis, commissioner of the U.S. Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (funding UCEDD core operating grants).

"The National Leadership Consortium’s effort to develop national leaders is important work in our quest to support a very vulnerable population in American society,” explained Donald Unger, chair of UD's Department of Human Development and Family Studies

The participants also heard from Michael Gamel-McCormick, director of education policy for the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and a former UCEDD director at UD, and George Jesien, executive director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).

According to Jesien, "Emerging leaders from throughout the AUCD network were able to develop, practice and hone their skills for the future positions of leadership that they will no doubt hold.  The NCLDD at UD did an absolutely stellar job of optimizing the time and opportunity for leaders to interact with each other and highly effective national experts."

The next week-long Leadership Institute conference is scheduled to begin on July 8.

Photos by Ambre Alexander

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