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Andrew Imparato has served as executive director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) since September, 2013. As a disability rights lawyer and policy professional with more than two decades of experience in government and advocacy roles, Imparato has worked with bipartisan policymakers to advance disability policy at the national level in the areas of civil rights, workforce development, and disability benefits. Prior to coming to AUCD, he was senior counsel and disability policy director for Senator Tom Harkin on the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Before that, he spent 11 years as President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, a national membership organization working to grow the political and economic power of the disability community. Imparato's perspective is informed by his personal experience with bipolar disorder.
Since joining AUCD, a national network of over 100 university-based programs that conduct research, training and advocacy to improve the quality of life of children and adults with disabilities, Imparato has helped the organization broaden the scope of its advocacy and expand its leadership capacity. Imparato is currently serving on two bipartisan panels developing recommendations for reform of the Social Security Disability Insurance program and has spearheaded a national "Six by ‘15" campaign designed to leverage next year's milestone anniversaries of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to focus public attention on the areas where the disability community wants to see more progress. This campaign has been endorsed by over 140 disability organizations.
Imparato's work has been recognized by the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Transportation, the US Junior Chamber of Commerce, the National Council on Independent Living, the National Association of the Deaf, and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation. He has testified nine times before Committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives and has been interviewed on a wide range of disability issues by national television, radio and print media. He cultivates grassroots activism on social media and is known for seeking out and mentoring emerging leaders with disabilities. He co-authored articles that have been published in the Stanford Law and Policy Review and the Milbank Quarterly, and wrote a chapter on the Supreme Court's disability rulings in The Rehnquist Court: Judicial Activism on the Right (Hill & Wang 2003). Imparato graduated summa cum laude from Yale College and with distinction from Stanford Law School. He lives in Baltimore with his wife Betsy Nix and their 15 year-old son Nicholas.
Crystal works with all AUCD office departments, as well as the network and partners, to inspire and lead a creative process that strives to raise the profile and image of AUCD and the network through the development and implementation of innovative and forward-thinking communications, marketing and public engagement strategies and initiatives. She oversees the communciations of the AUCD office, focusing particularly on social media, in an effort to increase awarness and engagement between the AUCD network and public. Crystal plays a key role in the development of special events such as the AUCD Conference and other related events as a means to inform the AUCD membership of network and federal agency activities.
In previous experience, Crystal was a Social Work trainee at the Waisman Center LEND and worked for the Waisman Center UCEDD's Community Outreach and Training Offices, developing and coordinating courses, activities, and community events for people with disabilities, their families, and support personnel. She has expertise in social media dissemiation strategy, conference and meeting planning, accessible publication design, and website management.
Crystal holds a Bachelor's degree in Social Welfare with dual concentrations in child and family studies and social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master's degree in Social Work with dual concentrations in heath care and developmental disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives with her husband, four children, and dog in Charlottesville, VA.
Benjamin (Ben) Kaufman is a program manager for the MCH technical assistance team that works with LEND and DBP training programs. He came to AUCD from the Organization for Autism Research, where he was the Director of Programs and Community Outreach for more than two years. There, he developed resources and managed initiatives aimed at increasing access to practical, evidence-based information among parents, educators, clinical professionals, and other members of the autism community. Ben previously worked as a policy advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland's education reform project, and also coordinated outreach efforts for A Wider Circle, a DC-area nonprofit that addresses cyclical poverty through various support and education programs.
Ben earned an MSW in management and community organizing from the University of Maryland School of Social Work, where he received the Julee Kryder-Coe Award for outstanding achievement in advocacy and social action. He holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan and has a younger brother with developmental disabilities.
Sarah Peterson is a program manager for AUCD's Maternal Child Health technical assistance team, working with the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) training programs. She brings to this role 14 years of experience working with people with disabilities and their families. Immediately before joining the AUCD team, Sarah served as the Executive Director of the Autism Society of Northern Virginia where she developed training materials for family members, service providers, and community groups. She also spearheaded an initiative to offer peer support and leadership development opportunities for autistic adults. Sarah has worked in grassroots advocacy on federal policy at the American Association of People with Disabilities as the moderator for the Justice For All action network. She started her career in special education, working with high school students in Miami, Florida.
Sarah earned an MSW from the National Catholic School of Social Service at the Catholic University of American in Washington, DC. During her studies, she conducted research into the effective implementation of person- and family- centered planning as a Ford Fellow. Sarah holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and has an older brother with Down syndrome.