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





Kansas KUCDD/LEND Community Advisory Panel Annual Meeting

The KUCDD/LEND Community Advisory Panel (CAP) held their annual, face-to-face meeting on July 12th in Salina, KS. Ski Adams, outgoing Chairperson was honored for his years of service as a member for the CAP with a plaque and the announcement of the new sign that will hang at KUCDD acknowledging and honoring CAP Chairpersons over time. Chris Testorff was welcomed in his leadership role, as our new Chairperson.



Jennifer Longdon on Gun Violence

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz Weintraub interviewed Jennifer Longdon, is a person with a disability as a result of gun violence. They spoke about her experience following the gun violence and how she became a disability advocate.

From left, Karoly Mirnics, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Munroe-Meyer Institute and Jim Sutfin, Ed.D., superintendent of Millard Public Schools


Program Launched for Special Education Students to Combat Social Isolation (NE UCEDD/LEND)

By John Keenan

The Munroe-Meyer Institute and Millard Public Schools will partner on new social and recreational skills development programs for special education students with autism and other forms of intellectual and developmental disabilities, designed to decrease social isolation and prepare students for life after school. "Social and life skills development is essential for the long-term prosperity of every individual," said Karoly Mirnics, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Munroe-Meyer Institute.



Shelly Baer Receives 'In the Company of Women' Health & Services Award (FL UCEDD/LEND)

Rochelle Baer (sitting) MSW, LCSW, Director of Leadership Training Initiatives at the University of Miami Mailman Center for Child Development, received the In the Company of Women Health & Services award at the 31st Annual ceremony presented by the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, Inc., Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department and the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women.



ReDiscovery (TX UCEDD)

The purpose of ReDiscovery is to provide training, technical assistance, and educational materials on long-term recovery services and resources for individuals with disabilities and other access and functional needs affected by Hurricane Harvey.



CT LEND Fellows Learn about Inclusive Employment

im and her husband Scott partnered with longtime friends, Noelle and Tim Alix, whose daughter Cate also has Down syndrome. Both families wanted an inclusive employment opportunity for the children and others in the community. Their vision is one of an inclusive community where everyone is welcome to work and to gather surrounded by great food, great coffee, and great people and a place where everyone belongs.


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