2023 Gordon Richins Award for Leadership and Advocacy

November 7, 2023

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.

The Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities and Kansas Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities Consumer Advisory Panel (KUCDD-LEND CAP)

Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies, UCEDD/LEND: Lawrence, KS

In Recognition of their Commitment, Leadership, and Potential

In all of its work, the KUCDD-LEND CAP has embodied Gordon’s approach to respectful, supportive, and effective advocacy. The CAP’s unofficial motto is “Let Your Voice Be Heard” and over the years the KUCDD-LEND CAP has done much to lift the voices of people with developmental disabilities and their families in Kansas and at the Kansas UCEDD and LEND as highlighted in the following examples.

Biography

The Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities and Kansas Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities Consumer Advisory Panel (KUCDD-LEND CAP) serves as the Consumer Advisory Committee for the Kansas UCEDD and LEND.  In addition to their advisory role to KUCDD and KU LEND, they have also taken on several, additional self-initiated projects that have had significant and positive impacts in Kansas and beyond, including creating a Good Communication for Good Health video to educate medical providers about communicating with people with disabilities, COVID-19 resources and educational videos, and videos and educational materials on supporting AAC users on college campuses. KUCDD-LEND CAP provides exemplary leadership and advocacy and acts as an example to the community and AUCD network.  Several members of the KUCDD-LEND CAP have also taken on paid advisory or research team roles at KUCDD and LEND, advancing inclusive research and opening doors for leadership opportunities in Kansas and beyond. 

Current KUCDD-LEND CAP members include: 

Member 

Role 

Aaron Alspach 

Chairperson, self-advocate 

Colin Olneck  

Vice-Chairperson, self-advocate and Self Advocate Coalition of Kansas (SACK) representative 

Chris Testorff 

Member, self-advocate 

Jason Cooper 

Member, self-advocate 

Skylar Schwint 

Member, self-advocate and Parent Training & Information Resource Center representative  

Alexandra Dahlgren 

Member, family member  

Rahel Kebede 

Member, family member 

Mike Burgess 

Kansas Protection and Advocacy Organization, Disability Rights Center of Kansas 

Sara Hart Weir  

Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities