2018 George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award

David R. Johnson, PhD

November 19, 2018

The  George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes a network member who has demonstrated a distinguished career of excellence and leadership in support of AUCD's mission to advance policy and practice for and with people living with developmental and other disabilities, their families and communities. This award was renamed after one of AUCD's past-Executive Directors, George S. Jesien, PhD.

David R. Johnson

Institute on Community Integration University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

“David has a lifetime of leadership, service, scholarship, published authorship, and as professor and mentor. For over nearly 40 years, he has devoted his career to improving education and transition services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) through research, demonstration, teaching and education. Without question, David has made significant contributions to dissemination of knowledge in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities that has made an impact at a national and international level. His resume could come in chapters but has a simple theme: equality, access and opportunity for all persons with disabilities. David has focused his work in areas of vocational rehabilitation, special education and transition to community life for people with disabilities. His interest and lifelong commitment to improving education for people with disabilities was influenced by his family. His brother was born with an intellectual disability and his parents were early leaders in the MN Arc movement and MN special education policy development. Throughout his career he has used education, research and policy advocacy as tools to drive his passion and commitment to ensure that children with the most significant needs have opportunities for inclusive education and life in the community where they are full participants in employment, recreation and lifelong learning. It is an understatement to say that David has had a prolific career. He has been awarded over 100 competitive grants and published 40+ peer reviewed journal articles. He has served on editorial boards of numerous peer reviewed journals and held many leadership roles within national and statewide organizations, including: I) AUCD (president 2003-2004), 2) Council for Exceptional Children, 3) National Association of Vocational Special Needs Personnel, American Vocational Association, and the 4) MN Governors Council on Developmental Disabilities. David is a humble, quiet and behind the scenes leader. He is always there for his colleagues to problem solve, to innovate and to just have a good time. His thoughtfulness has been recognized by many and his guidance is welcome to his colleagues as they seek to address some of the challenges facing persons with disabilities in community settings. "