Council on Leadership in Advocacy (COLA)



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The purpose of the Council on Leadership and Advocacy (COLA) is to enhance the Association of University Centers on Disabilities by fostering current and new leaders with lived experience of disability, including their family members, to promote leadership in their programs and communities. Council membership will expand to include directors, faculty, staff, and advisers at center programs, and CAC members.


How COLA Relates to AUCD and Its Work

COLA works to enhance AUCD by fostering and supporting current and new leaders with lived experience of disability, including their family members in order to promote this same leadership in their programs, communities, and regions, and to serve in liaison roles with local disability leadership. The Council helps the association to:

  • Build effective partnerships with other AUCD Councils and Committees, federal agencies, and other national disability groups.
  • Build the capacity of UCEDD Consumer Advisory Committees.
  • Develop leaders and mentors that build the capacity of the network to affect change at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Assist in the development of standards for participation of people with disabilities and family members in AUCD network centers and programs
  • People with disabilities and family members participate in program planning, research, and evaluation.



The Council on Leadership in Advocacy, also known as COLA, is made up of individuals with disabilities and family members from each AUCD network center and program. COLA members are involved in Community Advisory Councils at UCEDDs, AUCD Councils and Committees, AUCD Special Interest Groups, and other advocacy opportunities. Membership is open to anyone in the AUCD network. However, each center will designate an individual representative who will cast one vote when a matter before the Council requires such action.


2018 Focus Areas

The 2018 COLA annual plan has been drafted to align with the AUCD 2018 Strategic Map.


  • Diversity & Equity: Utilize network resources to support COLA membership.
  • Leadership: COLA membership champions and model diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Research: 1) Increase visibility of COLA within AUCD network; 2) COLA is an integral partner to strengthen network engagement and collaboration; 3) People with I/DD &/or family members lead or direct research within AUCD network.
  • Policy: COLA contributes to AUCD network policy, practices, and research.

COLA Leadership


Upcoming Events
of Interest to
COCA Members

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Nominate a Deserving Individual for an AUCD Award

Deadline: August 10, 2018

The annual AUCD Awards gives us an opportunity to recognize individuals, programs, and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made outstanding contributions. Comprised of 10 categories, the AUCD awards represent the 'best of the best' within our network, and local, state, and federal partners. We know the depth, breadth, and expertise of our trainees, advocates, professionals, and partners is extraordinary and deserving of recognition. In preparation for this year's conference, we invite you to nominate someone who truly inspires you.



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A Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD, IDDRC, LEND) Study of Special Educators' Use of Evidence-based Practices

The field of special education has long stressed the need for educators to use evidence-based practices, but the gap between identification and implementation remains. What influences how special educators decide which practices to implement is not well understood. Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD, IDDRC, LEND) researchers surveyed special educators to better understand factors in instructional decision making. Their findings were reported in the journal Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities in February 2018.



Oral Health Disparities Between Adults with IDD and the General (MA UCEDD/LEND)

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MN UCEDD Collaborates with The Arc on FINDS Report Revealing Caregiver Stress

In 2017, the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC/CL) at the Institute on Community Integration (MN UCEDD) conducted an online survey in collaboration with The Arc of the United States in order to better understand the status of family caregivers of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the U.S. Known as the Family & Individual Needs for Disability Support (FINDS) study, the survey and newly released FINDS Community Report 2017 shed light on the experiences of families who provide supports to a family member with I/DD.



Vermont UCEDD Staff Recognized by University for Accessibility Work on Campus

The University of Vermont recognized six outstanding staff members with the prestigious President's Our Common Ground Staff Award. This annual award "recognizes six staff members who exemplify the qualities of the University of Vermont's Our Common Ground, the statement of aspirations and shared values for the UVM Community." Benjamin Wimett, Assistive Technology Access Specialist at the Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI) was among the 2018 recipients who far exceed the expectations of their job descriptions to perform work, evoke change, and move our community to embrace the shared values of respect, integrity, innovation, openness, justice, and responsibility.



Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (MT UCEDD) Announces Recipients of the 2018 Community Investment Fund

To promote community inclusion and provide leadership and advocacy opportunities for Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) members, the University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) established a Community Investment Fund (CIF) in 2015 and invited CAC members to administer the fund. Since that inaugural year, small awards (up to $2000) have been made available annually through the CIF for innovative projects or programs to help Montanans with disabilities live, learn, work and play in their communities alongside people without disabilities.



"Bottom Dollars," an Award-winning Documentary on Inclusive Employment, is Screened Throughout Iowa:

Tammie Amsbaugh, CDD/UCEDD Program Manager, helped the Rooted in Rights documentary tour the state

CDD and the Iowa Department of Human Rights in partnership with the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and Disability Rights Iowa hosted the screening in eight cities around Iowa. This 2016 film calls for the phase out of the sub-minimum wages and sheltered workshops, and offers solutions for fair wages and inclusive employment. The documentary features personal stories and expert interviews with advocates that have been working to improve the employment opportunities for people with disabilities.



IDS' ToTAL Tech Program to Provide Training Webinars and Internships for Young Adults with Disabilities (MS UCEDD)

Youth and young adults completing high school, including young people with disabilities, have many decisions to make: continuing their education, finding employment, deciding to live more independently. The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) new project, Transition of Teens to Adult Life (ToTAL) Tech Training, should help to ease the employment decision for some young people with disabilities.



MNLEND 2017-18 Forum: The 'F-Words' in Childhood Disability

In the 21st century, people are embracing new ideas and new paradigms for the healthcare and disability fields. Guiding us are the 6 "F-Words" from the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) Framework: Function, Family, Fitness, Fun, Friends, and Future. The "F-Words" have been enthusiastically embraced by families, advocates' and colleagues' around the world.



Tuesdays with Liz - Voting

In this week's Tuesdays with Liz, Liz discusses the importance of voting for all Americans, especially people with disabilities. Liz introduces AUCD's new Voting Tool Guide.


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