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AUCD - Plenary A: Growing Leaders, Driving Change

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Growing Leaders, Driving Change

Monday, November 16, 2015 3:45 PM - 5:15 PM

Location: Grand Ballroom North/Central

Session Description

Leadership is at the center of driving change. While leadership can take many forms, it is inherently about building coalitions and motivating people to move the needle forward on important issues. Hear from panelists who will discuss their own leadership paths and what they have learned along the way, both about what it means to be a leader and how they have driven change. We will also explore what the AUCD network and disability community at large can do to cultivate and grow leaders with and for people with disabilities and their families within our ever-more diverse communities.

Featured Presenter(s)

Patricia Aguayo, MD, MPH

photo: Patricia

Patricia is a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist at the Hospital for Special Care's Autism Center and a Clinical Instructor at the Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center where she was previously Chief Resident. Dr. Aguayo received her medical degree from Universidad Anahuac, School of Medicine, in Mexico City, Mexico. She completed her Psychiatry residency at New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, and received a LEND fellowship at the Westchester Institute for Human Development in Valhalla, NY.


Anjali Forber-Pratt, PhD

Photo: Anjali

Anjali is an Assistant Professor in Department of Human & Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University. As a Paralympic medalist in the sport of wheelchair racing, she has dedicated her life to helping others recognize their potential. Anjali enjoys traveling for speaking engagements around the country and volunteering with local organizations for kids with disabilities. She co-wrote a "Color, Learn and Play" book aimed at educating young aspiring Paralympians on the variety of sports they can play and to teach young children that disabled people can play sports too!
Globally, Anjali is involved with disability advocacy efforts related to access to education, employment and sport through public speaking and media appearances. She has appeared on several television programs and radio shows including NPR, The Stream, and Sesame Street, and has been quoted in the national print press, including The Boston Globe, New York Times, Huffington Post, USA Today, and Runner's World. She was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change in 2013 and participated in a roundtable discussion with President Obama about disability policy issues.



Tia Nelis

Photo: Tia

Tia is a Self-Advocacy Specialist at the Institute on Disability and Human Development and The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, where she serves as a faculty member for the LEND program. She is also the past chairperson of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered. She founded People First of Illinois and successfully promoted the People First initiative. Ms. Nelis has served as president of People First of Illinois and has been honored with the Burton Blatt Award by Illinois TASH, and the Elizabeth Boggs award from AAIDD. Ms. Nelis has drawn on experiences relating to her own disability in promoting and demonstrating the benefits of empowerment for people with disabilities. She has wide experience in conducting training and advocating for progressive polices with legislators and public officials.


Derrick Willis, MPA

 photo: Derrick Willis

Driven by the core values of diversity and equity, Derrick has worked for over 30 years to create change in the State of Missouri. In 2000, Derrick was appointed to develop an Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs for the Missouri Department of Mental Health. He is currently directing the Urban Mission work at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Institute for Human Development. His work utilizes a "research to practice" framework that brings together the work of the university and diverse urban communities. Over the years Derrick has served on numerous task forces, work groups and committees dedicated to exploring promoting, and implementing national-level policies to support diversity and cultural competency.

Under Urban Mission, Derrick recently served as Director of Add-Us-In, an applied research project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, working with local businesses to create integrated and competitive employment opportunities for minority youth with disabilities. He is also the Project Director for Show-Me-Careers, a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD). The goal of Show-Me-Careers is to scale up effective practices that support the seamless transition from school to employment for youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Derrick also serves as the Director of the Summer Transportation Institute. For the past 11 years this pipeline program has brought High school aged minority youth, with and without disabilities, on campus and provided a four-week career exploration experience in STEM fields. 



Sharon Lewis (Moderator)

photo: Sharon Lewis 

Sharon serves in the dual roles of Principal Deputy Administrator of the Administration for Community Living, as well as HHS Secretary Burwell's Senior Advisor on Disability.

From March 2010 to November 2013, Ms. Lewis served as the Commissioner of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Prior to her appointment as Commissioner, she served as the Senior Disability Policy Advisor to U.S. House Committee on Education & Labor, advising members of the Committee on legislative strategy and disability-related policy issues in education, employment and healthcare, and as a Kennedy Public Policy Fellow for U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Children & Families. Ms. Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Distinguished Leadership in National Disability Policy Award and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Chairman's Award.

Sharon is a parent to three daughters, including one with disability. She is a native of Michigan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis