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

Diversity in Autism Spectrum Disorders  Copy to Calendar
Monday, March 18, 2019

More Events >





Tuesdays with Liz: Couples with Disabilities and the Marriage Penalty

Liz chats with Teresa Moore and John Britton, a couple who have been together for eighteen years and both have disabilities, about the risks that getting married carry for people with disabilities.



Learning from each other: The Iowa LEND and Puerto Rico UCEDD collaboration

Best practice in the assessment and treatment of challenging behavior for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities includes using applied behavior analysis (ABA), specifically implementing functional behavioral assessments and function-based treatments.



Helping Babies Beyond Their First Year: A Day of Learning (WI LEND)

In Milwaukee, WI, 100 infants die before reaching their first birthday. Infant mortality disproportionately affects more Black infants than White infants in Milwaukee due to a variety of social, medical, and other complex factors. The Strong Baby Sanctuary is a network of faith-based organizations that are addressing this multifaceted issue by engaging the community in education, healthcare, and wellness.



Tuesdays with Liz: Advocate Everywhere featuring Graphic Facilitation by Inky Brittany

You don't have to be in D.C. to advocate! As Liz explains how you can advocate from wherever you are, Inky Brittany provides graphic facilitation of Liz's advocating tips.



MCDD Presentation for Project SEARCH Interns (MD UCEDD)

Maureen van Stone, the Director of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute, delivered a presentation about the importance of advocacy to Kennedy Krieger's Project SEARCH interns and staff (pictured).



Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome (RTS) Event at the Newport Aquarium (OH UCEDD)

Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome (RTS) Event at the Newport Aquarium On the last weekend in January, the UCCEDD at Cincinnati Children�s hosted an RTS booklet release party at the Newport Aquarium, drawing over 100 guests from as far as Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee as well as regional guests from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio! The booklet, �Understanding Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome: A Guide for Families and Professionals� was developed to help family members of children with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome better explain their child�s condition to healthcare providers, teachers and family members. The booklet and event could not have happened with the generous support of the Dr. Jack Rubinstein Foundation at Cincinnati Children�s.



Tuesdays with Liz: Disability, Human, and Civil Rights with Vanita Gupta

This week, Liz talks with Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who explains what civil and human rights are, and some of the priorities for The Leadership Conference in 2019, many of which include advocating for the disability community.



United Nations Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 (NH UCEDD)

Disability and poverty research led by Dr. Debra L. Brucker was cited multiple times in the recently released United Nations Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018. The research highlighted the high rates of poverty experienced by working-age individuals with disabilities in the U.S., comparing poverty rates calculated using four different measures of poverty and deprivation.


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