AOD Commissioner Julie Hocker Visits the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD, IDDRC, LEND)

May 14, 2019

On a two-day visit to Tennessee, Julie Hocker, Commissioner of the U.S. Administration on Disability, met with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD, LEND, IDDRC) leadership, faculty, trainees, and Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network partners. Hocker visited at the suggestion of Lance Robertson, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the Administration for Community Living, who travelled to Tennessee in January and returned enthusiastic about the collaborative relationships within the state.

With a stated interest in learning about employment initiatives, Hocker heard first-hand about the experiences of students and graduates of Vanderbilt's inclusive higher education program, Next Steps at Vanderbilt. She learned how TennesseeWorks, a collaboration of agencies and organizations working together to improve employment outcomes for young people with disabilities, has sustained its impact long after its original funding through a Partnerships in Employment Systems Change grant from AIDD. Putting Faith to Work, an employment model that taps into the personal network, creativity, and commitment existing within congregations was of particular interest to Hocker. She also met with participants and leadership of Project SEARCH at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and shared a meal with UCEDD and LEND trainees from the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and the University of Tennessee Boling Center.

On her second day, Hocker met with Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network partners to learn more about how the programs work collaboratively to impact the lives of Tennesseans with disabilities and their families. The Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities hosted the second day, inviting several Middle Tennessee legislators, self-advocates, and family members who came to discuss disability issues with the Commissioner. Additionally, leadership from The University of Tennessee Boling Center and Disability Rights Tennessee were in attendance to share more about programs related to policy, Supported Decision Making, and more!