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

ABLE: The Big Picture  Copy to Calendar
Thursday, October 18, 2018

More Events >





Associate Director of University of Cincinnati's UCEDD, Kara Ayers, Appointed to Govering Board

Kara Ayers, Associate Director of the University of Cincinnati UCEDD was recently appointed to the Governing Board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. It's a part of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works with Congress. The GAO oversees federal government spending. In this case, it ensures that research conducted meets the priorities of patients or people directly impacted by disability, chronic illness, and disease.

Thumbnail of Liz and horse


DePoy's Passion Fuels Research About Aging Maine Farmers (ME UCEDD)

As a professor of interdisciplinary disability studies and social work at the University of Maine, Elizabeth DePoy's passion for farming and interest in the farming community led to her current research project, "Aging Maine Farmers: Investigation of Their Aspirations, Needs and Ingenuity."



AUCD Webinar Series "Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts: What You Need to Know"

AUCD is partnering with the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) to deliver two webinars for network members and partners about the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2014. This law provided people with disabilities the opportunity to establish tax-advantaged accounts for saving money in ways that have little to no impact on eligibility for public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. While the potential benefits of ABLE accounts are significant, many questions remain. This series will provide important context, share practical answers and address future considerations.


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