2018 Anne Rudigier Award

Ellen Casale, EdS, MEd

November 19, 2018

This award is named for Anne Rudigier, a young woman who demonstrated that one individual's commitment, energy, love of life, and respect for all people can be shared and can persevere through others. The Award is presented by the Rudigier Family in loving memory of their daughter Anne and of the values she held in her life and in her work.

Ellen Casale, EdS, MEd

Institute on Community IntegrationVanderbilt Consortium LEND
Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN

""Ellen demonstrates an exceptional combination of accomplishment and commitment to supporting people with disabilities and their families. She integrates training, advocacy, and research in work focusing on families.

Ellen's leadership is most evident in how she works with faculty and families to adapt and expand the Volunteer Advocacy Program. Over the past year, she helped write a grant to adapt the VAP for parents of students with autism spectrum disorder and has led the effort to create several web-based modules of portions of the VAP content online. Beyond these service-outreach efforts, Ellen is also conducting research aimed at improving educational, behavioral, and functional outcomes for individuals with severe disabilities. In several quantitative and qualitative studies, she is examining the experiences of parents who contact the VAP for an advocate, as well as the barriers parents routinely experience in dealing with their school systems; she has presented these studies at AAIDD, CEC, and other national conferences. With several members of the VKC's TRIAD autism programs, she has recently published a review of "tele-practice" in ASD training, diagnosis, and healthcare delivery, an important contribution to our UCEDD's new Rural Initiative involving telehealth and telemedicine.

Curious about all things disability, Ellen is passionately interested in serving and learning about persons with disabilities and their families, as well as teaching and mentoring the next generation. In her two years as a UCEDD trainee, her fellow students, faculty, and VKC UCEDD staff and faculty, as well as the advocates and family members with whom she works, appreciate Ellen's passion, her kindness, and her hard work."