TRIAD's Pablo Juarez receiving national honor from The Arc for Supporting Inclusion for People with Disabilities (TN UCEDD/LEND/IDDRC)

By Kristen McKiernan and Jennifer Wetzel

October 7, 2016

Pablo Juárez, M.Ed., BCBA, director of the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, has been named Educator of the Year by The Arc, the nation's largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Juárez is being honored for his work supporting the inclusion of children and adults with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities in their communities in Tennessee. Called the Catalyst Award, Juraez is one of a select group of individuals who will be recognized with this honor at The Arc's national convention on Oct. 28, 2016.

"The Catalyst Awards give us an opportunity to honor like-minded leaders in fields both inside and outside of the traditional disability community who are helping to promote and protect the human rights of people with disabilities," said Peter Berns, chief executive officer of The Arc. "Our honorees do not just align with The Arc's mission; they are helping to expand it to new audiences. They are each change agents in their respective fields, and their work is helping to create a future that is more inclusive for people with disabilities. We are grateful for their contributions and hope that by honoring their work, we will inspire and empower others to follow in their footsteps."

Under Juárez's leadership, TRIAD has grown in number of expert educators and providers and has developed and provided educational and service opportunities from birth through early adulthood. In strengthening and redefining TRIAD's relationship with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), Juárez has been able to develop services embedded within state systems that support the needs of families and individuals from birth through high school.

His focus on extending services and educational opportunities to rural and low-resource areas across Tennessee has resulted in innovative approaches to service provision, including the use and evaluation of telepresence and online resources. His teams also provide direct educational and support opportunities for families of children newly diagnosed with autism, as well as community engagement activities that link together 15 of Nashville's most prominent arts, education, safety and sports organizations.

"I'm constantly reminded that being a quality educator means that you're always learning," Juárez said. "We have remarkable leadership at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, as well as teams of professionals and community members who constantly teach me how to be a better educator and leader. I'm fortunate to be in position to lead a dynamic, creative, expert group as we work toward making systems of education and care more accessible for people with disabilities, their families, educators, and other providers. I'm honored and humbled by this award, and the large team of people I will be sharing it with."

Other 2016 Catalyst Award winners include Google, Nike, science writer and New York Times bestselling author Steve Silberman, and The Ruderman Family Foundation among others. A complete list can be found at

Kristen McKiernan is senior executive officer, Communications, The Arc. Jennifer Wetzel is local news director, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.