2021 George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award

Elise McMillan, JD

November 22, 2021

The AUCD George S. Jesien Award is presented a UCEDD, LEND or IDDRC executive, faculty or staff member who has demonstrated a distinguished career of excellence and leadership in support of AUCD's mission to advance policy and practice for and with people living with developmental and other disabilities, their families and communities.

Elise McMillan, JD

UCEDD Director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Elise has had an extraordinary influence on the development of model evidencebased services for persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families on a community, state, and national level. For 26 years, she has helped to expand opportunities and improve systems, especially in the areas of transition, inclusive higher education, and employment. Elise currently serves as the Co-Director of our Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD) and senior director of Community Engagement and Public Policy. In addition to her impactful leadership in the areas of policy and practice, she has also published widely in leading peer-reviewed journals across interdisciplinary fields. Indeed, she has had more than two dozen articles featured in journals like Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, The Journal of Special Education, Journal of Disability Policy Studies, and Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals. She cares deeply about ensuring the most rigorous research guides both policy and practice. Elise also is a mentor to countless faculty, staff, and trainees in the Center. She thoughtfully guides staff and students, supports families, and collaborates with disability organizations. She models respect for the highest aspirations of individuals with IDD and is an extraordinarily effective advocate for improving service systems across the lifespan.