UAB UCEDD and LEND Programs Announce New Project Director

December 14, 2020

Sarah O'Kelley, Ph.D. recently assumed leadership of Alabama's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD) and the UAB Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) training programs. These programs are a collaborative effort within the UAB Department of Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, and Civitan International Research Center, with clinical operations at the Civitan-Sparks Clinics. Dr. O'Kelley has been an active and vital part of the UCEDD and LEND's function in the last decade and succeeds Fred J. Biasini, Ph.D., who helped build and then directed these programs for over 30 years before unexpectedly passing away in September.

Dr. O'Kelley is a Clinical Associate Professor in the UAB Departments of Psychology and Pediatrics and has served as Director of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Clinic at UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics. Dr. O'Kelley has been involved in research and clinical activities with individuals with ASD and their families for over 20 years. She received her bachelor's degree in Psychology and masters and doctoral degrees in Clinical Child Psychology at The University of Alabama. Dr. O'Kelley completed her predoctoral internship at the UAB Psychology Internship Training Consortium as a LEND trainee and was a LEND postdoctoral fellow at UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics. From 2006 to 2008, a portion of her postdoctoral fellowship included a position of Program Coordinator for the University of Alabama Autism Spectrum Disorders College Transition and Support program (UA-ACTS), a program she helped develop and implement. Dr. O'Kelley's research interests include cognitive and behavioral phenotypes of individuals with ASD and related neurodevelopmental disabilities, screening and early identification, sibling and family functioning, group social skills interventions, and issues across the lifespan for individuals with ASD. She collaborates in multiple research endeavors across campus, the state, and nationally and is an active participant and leader in activities of the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council.

"I am grateful for the confidence and support that our faculty, staff, and trainees have shown as we work together to continue the critically important work that was Dr. Biasini's passion, and I look forward to the evolution of our programs to respond to the needs and input of stakeholders throughout the state," Dr. O'Kelley stated. Both the UCEDD and LEND have remained active throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing the work supporting families and training future leaders that these projects have provided for nearly 40 years.