2023 Lifetime Achievement Award

November 7, 2023

The AUCD Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to individuals making a lifetime commitment to serving people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD

The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, UCEDD/LEND: New Brunswick, NJ

“Elizabeth Boggs often described UCEDDs as a bridge between the University and the community. Dr. Spitalnik’s dedication to realizing this vision is exemplified in her steadfast assurance that The Boggs Center promotes best practices across the lifespan, from inclusive education to integrated community supports to healthcare equity, always emphasizing the values of the Developmental Disabilities Act.”



Deborah M. Spitalnik, PhD is the founding Executive Director of The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, New Jersey’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service and Director of  NJLEND-Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Program at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she is a Professor Pediatrics and Family Medicine and Community Health.


A former MCH trainee, with degrees from Brandeis, Harvard, and Temple University and early work in deinstitutionalization, Dr. Spitalnik has focused on developing inclusive communities by addressing the intersection between individuals and public policy. A contributor to two editions of the classification manual in IDD and Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics 5, her recent research has focused on the impact of an Autism diagnosis on Latino Families and on primary care outcomes for adults with developmental disabilities on Medicaid. She had developed innovative models for inclusive primary care and educating medical students and residents to address the health and wellbeing of children and adults with developmental disabilities.


Dr. Spitalnik, a past President of the AUCD Board, chaired the (AAUAP) Program Criteria Work Group, and was instrumental in training the first cohort of advocates and family members as peer reviewers for the UCEDD network. She is a former chair and member of both the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, and CQL-the Council on quality and Leadership. She is the chair of the New Jersey Medical Assistance Advisory Committee.


Her contributions have been recognized by the AUCD George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award, the Rutgers Clement A. Price Human Dignity Award, and the AAIDD Dybwad Humanitarian Award.