My Voice. My Participation. My Board. Concludes Seventh Cohort (GA UCEDD)

December 16, 2019

Over the weekend of November 1-3, 2019, the final meeting of the seventh cohort of My Voice. My Participation. My Board (MVMPMB) was held in Augusta, GA. Eight individuals from throughout the Atlanta and middle Georgia area graduated from this cohort. This gathering was the conclusion of a three-part, multi-day training on self-advocacy, which focused on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) learning how to be effective and engaged members of board of directors and advisory councils.

Far too few individuals with IDD have had the opportunity to make valuable contributions as members of boards and councils. MVMPMB seeks to change that by training and preparing individuals with IDD to contribute to the work of state agencies, and both for-profit and nonprofit organizations in Georgia and the United States. Project Coordinator, Susanna Miller-Raines, agrees that "having people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on boards and advisory councils as active, participating members and not tokens, is vital to being diverse and inclusive. Their voices, experience and perspectives are valuable."

The MVMPMB program consists of three components, all of which help participants prepare for and obtain leadership roles. First is "Self-Awareness & Self-Advocacy". During the first session, participants identify their personal strengths and how they can contribute to a board or council's success. Next is an in-depth look at "What are Boards of Directors and Advisory Councils?". Members and peer-mentors will be able to identify the characteristics of an effective board member and ways in which their unique gifts and talents fit in that role. The cohort concludes with "Translating Knowledge into Practice", where members and peer-mentors will take the knowledge that they have gained in Part One & Part Two and practice the skills they have learned through a series of scenarios and the opportunity to network with professionals within the disability community. The networking luncheon consisted of individuals from state agencies, private providers, and other members of the Center for Leadership in Disability staff. This portion of the training is always well received by both the trainees, as well as the community members, because it provides them with valuable professional connections and resources.

MVMPMB alumni have become involved in over 20 boards and councils throughout Georgia. Four alumni currently serve on the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. They also serve on advisory councils for the Autism Plan for Georgia, the CLD, and the Atlanta Autism Consortium.

This project is made possible through a funding partnership between the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.

About CLD: The Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) is a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). CLD provides interdisciplinary education, community training, technical assistance, research and information dissemination with the goal of improving the lives of people with developmental disabilities of all ages and their families. CLD is administratively located within the Center for Healthy Development and the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.