2022 Gordon Richins Award for Leadership and Advocacy

October 26, 2022

The Council on Leadership in Advocacy presents the Gordon Richins Award for Leadership and Advocacy in recognition of exemplary leadership and advocacy practices of including people with disabilities and family members in projects and initiatives within a Center and the AUCD network as a whole. This award is named after Gordon Richins, a long-time leader, mentor and friend in the AUCD network and beyond.

Elizabeth Benevides, MD

Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities, Kennedy Krieger Institute: Baltimore, MD

"Beyond her dedication to the Hussman Institute for Autism, the Hussman Foundation, and Kennedy Krieger Institute, Beth exemplifies her commitment to children with disabilities and their families through numerous other leadership roles in Maryland, including: serving as an appointed member to the Maryland Department of Disabilities; chairperson of the Commission for Transitioning Students with Disabilities (Howard County Government); advisory council for the Maryland State Department of Education's Home and Community Based Services Waiver for Children with Autism; advisory council for special education for the Howard County Public School System; fonner board member and past president of the Howard County Autism Society; and member of the Education Advocacy Coalition for Students with Disabilities. Beth also completed the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT), which is a one year, intensive special education advocacy training and the only nationally developed and recognized course that provides participants with training to become a special education advocate. Beth is a respected leader in numerous organizations throughout Maryland, and held in our highest regard."


Elizabeth Benevides is director of outreach at the Hussman Institute for Autism, and associate director of the Hussman Foundation. In her dual role, she oversees autism-related initiatives and grants, serves as policy and educational advocate for individuals and families with developmental disabilities, and presents numerous autism and disability-related trainings to educators, clinicians, law enforcement, first responders, parents, school systems, businesses, and community partners. She is a board member of the Autism Society of America; chair of the Community Advisory Council of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities and family faculty in the LEND program at the Kennedy Krieger Institute; an appointed member of the Maryland Department of Disabilities’ Ethan Saylor Alliance for Self-Advocates steering committee; and member of the Commission on Disabilities in Howard County. She is a certified special education advocate, and a member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and the Maryland Education Advocacy Coalition. Elizabeth brings her passion as a parent of a young adult son with autism to her work. She holds a BA in English from University of Maryland Baltimore County and formerly enjoyed a career in scholarly publishing.