Va-LEND Welcomes New Faculty With Focus on Cultural Agility

Submitted by Jennifer Drummond

July 9, 2020

For Dana Yarbrough, this summer marks 21 years at the Partnership with People with Disabilities as a project director, Director of Center for Family Involvement (CFI), and Assistant Director of the UCEDD. But it also marks a new adventure: bringing her vision and perspective to Va-LEND.

Her expertise is particularly relevant to shine new light on cultural diversity at Va-LEND. Yarbrough explains, "I've had the opportunity to build a team of cultural brokers at the UCEDD. This includes immigrants, refugees, and people of color who are parents of children with disabilities, who help our organization collaborate in ways that are culturally agile, sensitive and responsive." Yet, Yarborough admits after 11 years with UCEDD that cultural diversity is still in beginning stages of authentically talking the talk and walking the walk as a culturally competent organization. "We recognize the trauma experienced through the intersectionality of cultural identities (i.e., disability, race/ethnicity, gender preference). We understand the emotional responses to health inequities, blatant discrimination, senseless killings, and racial profiling, to name a few. Neutrality is not okay as individuals or as UCEDDs and LEND programs."

Yarbrough looks to the future: "Our job at LEND programs is to not just focus on what good leadership looks like - but rather it is a development challenge of how to grow bigger minds in the trainees. She offered a preview on how Va-LEND will work to accomplish this. "With the leadership of Va-LEND faculty, we are currently exploring a variety of videos, resources, and experts in our VCU community that will inform and immediately transform trainee course and activity content and delivery- stay tuned."

Yarborough has previously enjoyed collaborating with Va-LEND directors during her work with the CFI. She reports, "Through my services the past decade as Virginia's Maternal and Child Health Title V Family Delegate and as the 2019 recipient of a national Merle McPherson Leadership Award I am excited to bring my family wisdom and experience to the Family Mentoring Experience Faculty. I will also work with the Va-LEND team as the Strategic Direction Manager, with the primary responsibility of facilitating conversations, grant writing and program planning that focuses on the trajectory of Va-LEND through 2026 and beyond."