2018 Multicultural Council Award for Leadership in Diversity Award

Vermont LEND Program

November 23, 2018

This Award is presented to an individual 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.

Vermont LEND Program

University of Vermont Burlington, VT

“The Vermont LEND program, under the leadership of Mercedes Avila, has set a clear example on how to diversify a LEND program at all program levels: faculty/staff, trainees and curriculum. In 2011, the program completed the first organizational assessment in Cultural and Linguistic Competence (CALC) which identified significant changes needed to diversify the program. At that time, all faculty/staff and trainees/fellows identified as white. Developing relationships with local immigrant and former refugee communities resulted in a steady increase in individuals from these communities as trainees/fellows. Specific recruitment of faculty and staff from diverse communities were successful as well. Ongoing training of all faculty/staff on racism, bias, disparities and inequity in service systems has ensured they are prepared to address these issues in all training and teaching activities. These topics have been embedded in all curriculum components. In addition to the work the LEND has done at the state level, the program has been identified as exemplary in advancing work related to CALC at the regional and national levels. In the past 3 years, the Vermont LEND has provided consultation, training, and professional development in diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity to more than 20 other LEND and UCEDD programs around the country and to 52 organizations regionally. In FY 2018, they trained 2545 participants in 65 trainings at local, regional, state and national levels on CALC and developed and shared 36 products (publications, videos, reports, posters, etc.) the majority of which focused on CALC topics.”