2016 Multicultural Council Award for Leadership in Diversity

Maria Mercedes Avila, PhD

December 6, 2016

This Award is presented to an Association member or group in recognition of exhibited leadership and commitment to advancing programs and practices aimed toward increasing the diversity, cultural, and/or linguistic competencies within a Center and the Network as a whole, and for significant contributions to further the cause of understanding the diverse needs of families seeking disability services.

Maria Mercedes Avila, PhD

Vermont LEND
University of Vermont

In Appreciation of Your Ongoing Leadership and Dedication to Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence

"As the Project Director for the VT LEND, Mercedes has been a leader in advancing programs and practices aimed toward increasing the diversity, cultural, and linguistic competencies in curriculum, services, supports, research, and recruitment not only within the LEND but the AUCD network as a whole. She has received numerous accolades from the University of Vermont including the 2016 UVM ALANA Outstanding Faculty & Staff Award, which recognizes commitment to Leadership, Advocacy, and Social Justice. In 2015 she was selected to serve on the Vermont Governor's Workforce Equity and Diversity Council. Mercedes has trained more than 1,000 Vermont professionals on racism, cultural and linguistic competence, and health disparities. Her passion and commitment includes supporting former refugee high school students as an advisor to Burlington Vermont-based Diversity Rocks. Under her guidance, this group produced a nationally recognized video called 'I Am the World' which garnered three awards including the prestigious United Nations Peace award.