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 In this issue:
Photo of Blalock-Wall family courtesy of Ryan Johnson.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson 

2014 Youth Transition Leadership Summit
Prepares Families for the Future

Georgia has a rapidly growing number of youth and young adults with developmental disabilities pursing career and college opportunities. Last month the inaugural Youth Transition Leadership Summit (YTLS) brought together more than 120 of these youth and their families to discuss ways to best plan for their futures. 

Co-sponsored by the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University and the Georgia Department of Public Health, the summit gave youth and young adults ideas and tools to use while focusing on transitioning into adulthood. Peers and professionals presented on transition planning and opportunities in education, health, employment, legal rights, community life, recreation, and leisure.  The summit also offered a family track which focused on transitioning into adulthood and what parents need to know to support their students to access a life well-lived after high school.   

CLD Community Support Specialist and YTLS organizer Susanna Miller who is a Community Support Specialist with CLD commented, “It was great to have support from so many organizations and agencies in Georgia, especially our funder, the Georgia Department of Public Health. We were able to reach youth and young adults who are still trying to figure out what life after high school looks like. The participants were able to interact with peers and learn from young adults who have and are navigating life as adults. It was important to the planning committee that the presenters were young adults themselves who could relate to the youth and their peers." 
Following the success of this year's event, organizers would like to hold multiple summits to reach audiences in all parts of the state. 
For more information on youth transition and leadership visit the CLD website at To view photos from the the event visit out Flickr page at .


Georgia Legislature Awards $100K to Inclusive Post-secondary Education

Georgia State CapitolThe Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) and the Georgia Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Consortium (GAIPSEC) are pleased to announce that the state legislature has allocated an additional $100,000 in funds for inclusive Post-secondary Education (PSE) programs at Georgia colleges and universities for FY 2015. The funds will be used to support existing programs and increase the number of college opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the state.

In FY 2014 the legislature awarded $100,000 to fund continued work at the Academy for Inclusive Learning at Kennesaw State University Academy and for an implementation grant to East Georgia State College. Funds were also awarded to GAIPSEC by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), and the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) to fund implementation grants to The University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute and Columbus State University. In addition awarded dollars will also fund feasibility grants, training and technical assistance for inclusive post-secondary education. The additional $100,000 means that there is now $200,000 allocated to inclusive post-secondary education in Georgia for FY 2015. 

Universities were chosen for their demonstrated capacity in planning, providing and evaluating inclusive environments, adult learning, and participant-direction.  These universities also have proven knowledge of formal and informal supports and services for adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Susanna Miller, GAIPSEC Project Manager at CLD says, “These programs provide the opportunity for young adults to study and fully participate in college life alongside their peers. We are excited by the continued support of PSE in Georgia and look forward to its continued growth. With the additional funding, we will now be able to grow and support this initiative in Georgia. ”

The GAIPSEC is a project of the Center for Leadership in Disability and seeks to create opportunities for students who have historically not had access to post-secondary educational opportunities.  Members of the Consortium are committed to providing information and training resources for individuals, families, colleges & universities, and agencies to achieve the goal of inclusive PSE opportunities for all.

The Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State is one of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services across the country.  Since 2008, it has been housed within the Center for Healthy Development, part of the School of Public Health at Georgia State. Its mission is to translate research into sustainable community practices that contribute to independent, self-determined, inclusive, and productive lives for people with disabilities and their families.

For more information on inclusive post-secondary education visit

2014 Georgia Winter Institute Brings Community Building and
Person-Centered Planning to Columbus, GA

                     Photo from Georgia Winter Institute courtesy of Ryan Johnson
                             Photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson
Despite the snow and ice, 125 community leaders, professionals, self-advocates, parents and friends took part in the fourth annual Georgia Winter Institute (GWI) this January. The inclement weather didn't dampen the spirits of the attendees or the hospitality of the host city of Columbus, Georgia.

This year's event was built around six strands that are integral in achieving communities that are fully inclusive to all of its citizens. Participants took part in session discussions focusing on education, employment, homes, well-being and leadership. Keynote speakers Chris Glaser and Karin Korb and the addition of community based lunches and evening activities brought a new dynamic to the gathering. GWI organizer and CLD Director of Individual and Family Supports Stacey Ramirez said, "I am so proud that the Georgia Winter Institute (GWI) has become an event that brings people with and without disabilities together for a higher purpose. I love when folks share their stories about the effect that GWI had on them. Just last week, a coordinator from Project Search shared with me that one of her students had gone up five grade levels in her reading since January! She attributed this to her student's growth in the self-confidence she discovered through activities and connections she made at GWI. I've heard many other examples of projects and programs now being developed because of collaborations forged at this inspirational event. As GWI continues to evolve, I am excited that the participants will use the lessons we learn to grow and strengthen their communities."  

Many thanks to event co-sponsors the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, Georgia Power, the Georgia Advocacy Office, the Institute on Human Development and Disability at University of Georgia. Fresh Market,The Learning Community, The Arc of Georgia, Uptown Tap and Parent to Parent of Georgia.  

View a gallery of photos from the event at .

Minority Partnership Focus of Evaluation Report

Cover of minority partnerships report. To support efforts to promote diversity as well as mitigate disparities for minorities with disabilities, the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) was awarded a three-year partnership grant from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) in 2009.  The $675,000 grant was used to develop a joint program on developmental disabilities with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. The partnership offered the opportunity for open dialogue between people of diverse backgrounds on the topic of disability, and facilitated establishment of new programs and initiatives.

An in depth analysis of the program and its outcomes are spotlighted in the publication Supporting Diversity in the Developmental Disabilities Network through Minority Partnerships. The CLD’s project along with a similar grant-funded initiative led by the University of Southern California (USC UCEDD) at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, are described in the report.  

As disparities in health equity of minorities are felt across our country the effects on those populations who also have disabilities are even more pronounced. Through the results documented in this report, the realities of disabilities in minority communities are brought to light. It is hoped that through these discoveries more work can be done to increase minority partnerships and decrease.

Distributed by the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) and written by Tanisha Clarke, MPH and Kristina Majewski, JD the publication is available for free PDF download or bound copies are available for purchase at

CLD Welcomes Dr. Mark Chaffin to Faculty

Photo of Dr. Mark Chaffin
Mark Chaffin, renowned scholar in child maltreatment, parenting, implementation science, and services for marginalized populations has accepted a faculty position at the Georgia State's School of Public Health as a part of the Second Century Initiative (2CI).

Dr. Chaffin is a sought-after speaker (both nationally and internationally) and has served as a scientific reviewer for several federal agencies. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in his career.

Chaffin is a psychologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He was the founding editor of Child Maltreatment, one of the two leading journals in the field and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has been on the editorial boards of or served as a reviewer for 17 other journals. Chaffin is a three-time recipient of the Pro-Humanitate Literary Award for Outstanding Published Article in the Field of Child Welfare and Child Maltreatment. He was the primary investigator on the largest and longest treatment outcome trial in the field of child maltreatment, studying some 2,200 families statewide in Oklahoma over seven years and employing the SafeCare service model now headquartered at Georgia State.

The goal of GSU’s 2CI is to build nationally and/or internationally recognized strength and critical mass around common research themes to enhance the University’s overall quality, interdisciplinary richness, and competitiveness. Chaffin is the third faculty member to be hired in the School of Public Health as part of 2CI.  


Dr. David Satcher presented to participants of the Georgia LEND and South Carolina LEND programs on the topic of health inequities. In addition, he spoke to the LEND trainees about their roles as future leaders in the field of public health. Students in attendance represented the interdisciplinary breadth of the LEND program and the span of professions that work with people with developmental disabilities. This was the third year that Dr. Satcher has presented to program participants regarding the importance their work plays in the future of public health in America.     

                Photo of therapeutic drumming led by Tom Harris
                      Photo courtesy of Georgia State University

The 6th Annual Georgia Association for Positive Behavior Support Conference drew a record number of attendees (615) to the Student Center at Georgia State University. Keynote speakers V. Mark Durand, PhD and Barbara T. Doyle, MS headlined the two-day event that presented the latest findings and best practices in the field of Positive Behavior Support. Seventy-seven presentations and workshops discussed issues specific to K-12 education, Birth-to-5 programs, and family contexts. Several sessions attracted a cross spectrum of attendees including the Therapeutic Drumming workshop (pictured above), which was led by Tom Harris of Youth Villages. The 7th Annual GAPBS Conference will return to Georgia State University on December 3-4, 2014. For information visit www.gapbs org .


CAC Focus: Volly Nelson 

Volly Nelson is a self-advocate from south Georgia who lives with a visual impairment. Through his involvement with the Community Advisory Council, he has been able to expand his voice as a self-advocate and build his leadership skills for future advocacy work.
CLD: How did you learn about the CAC?
VN: I learned about CAC from a friend of mine named Mark Swift who is a big disability advocate for LIFE (Living Independently For Everyone) in Savannah, Georgia.
CLD: How long have you served on the CAC?
VN:  I have served on the CAC for about 3 years.
CLD: Please tell me about some of the projects that you have worked on during your time on the council.
VN: I have worked on keeping the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website up and running. It is a website for people who are blind that gives them an opportunity to download Braille, and audio books and magazines through the Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. I have also been trying to get the Georgia Lions Camp for the Blind in Waycross, Georgia, the ability to put their summer camp applications online. This way we who have computers and screenreaders would be able to actually fill them out ourselves without our parents having to do it for us.  It gets tiresome for blind adult campers to have to ask their parents  fill out their summer camp applications. 

CLD: How do you think your experiences as a self advocate add to your contributions on the CAC?
VN:  Yes it takes some self-advocacy experience. I use to advocate for Pineland Mental Health. We had an advocacy group that would meet every Friday, We would talk about what the program needed, how to stop budget cuts, and how our needs as mental health consumers were getting met. I believe that my contributions to the CAC are heavily based on that experience.
CLD: Tell me some of the skills/knowledge you have gained during your time on the CAC and how have you been able to use it in your life?
VN: I have been able to email Jack Hill and other senators in our state to discuss current disability issues. In the future I will be doing public speaking and sharing my mental health recovery story that is entitled "Finding Peace." When I had my PATH planned they were goals that I wanted to achieve. I also plan to attend Georgia Tech in 2015.
CLD: What is the biggest challenge facing people with disabilities and their families today?
VN: I believe that the biggest challenge is discrimination, because of their disability. One of the biggest problems I've found is airports putting totally blind people in wheelchairs when they can walk. People should say,  "No Thank you, "I can walk." and if they continue then they have get angry and say, "Thanks just the same but I can walk perfectly fine." We should be respected and allowed to do what we are capable of doing. 
CLD:What is your favorite part about your involvement with the CAC?
VN: My favorite part about my involvement with the CAC is the involvement with the other members. I enjoy meeting other leaders in the disability movement from across the state. 
CLD: What would you tell someone who was considering becoming a member of the CAC?
VN: I would tell someone who wants to become a member to contact CLD to discuss how your skills can be of service on the CAC. Your voice and your experiences are important to the disability movement in Georgia, and the CAC allows you to showcase them. 

The Community Advisory Council ensures that the perspectives of people with developmental disabilities, family members, providers, and policy makers are included in the development and monitoring of the center's five-year plan. For more information on the CAC at the CLD visit


KSU Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth 
Visits Our Nation's Capitol

KSU Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth logo.
Inclusive post-secondary educational options in the state of Georgia are growing and the Academy of Inclusive Learning at Kennesaw State University (KSU) is one of them. The program, which is housed in the WellStar College of Health and Human Services, offers a two year program to young adults ages 22 and older gives the full college experience. This semester CLD's Ryan Johnson led students of the Academy in the Global Awareness and Civic Leadership course. Johnson, who holds a degree in Political Science, instructs the class in a survey of the global political issues, their rights and duties as US citizens, and how to make their voices heard as leaders in the disability community.  

This month eight students in the class spent their spring break in Washington DC witnessing government in action. During their visit they had the chance to meet Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson(R-GA), Esme Grant of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, AUCD's Kim Musheno, Aaron Bishop of the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Meg Grigal of Think College, Allison Wohl of the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination, and newly retired champion for rights for people with disabilities Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). KSU student Corey Maire commented on the experience, "I enjoyed traveling with everyone in the group and learning more about each other. I have learned how to tell my story and advocate for myself to my legislators." 

Ryan Johnson noted, "During our first day, when students heard from many nationally known and respected disability advocates, they were able to get a sense that they have something to contribute, not only to their communities, but to the democratic process as well. Ari Ne’eman, co-founder of the Autism Self Advocacy Network, spoke to the students about the importance of advocating for themselves, and their rights. Being only a few years older than the students, he was able to reach them on their level and really get them excited about advocacy."

To learn more about the KSU Academy visit their website at


Whitney Wilson is a second year Masters of Social Work candidate at Georgia State University. Her future career aspirations in the field are focused on children in foster care and the health, educational and socio-ecomonic inequalities 

Q: How did you find out about the GaLEND Program?
WW: I found out about the program through former GaLEND participant Breanna Kelly. She told me about her intern experience last year with LEND. Her work with ChildKind and other disability organizations aligned with my goals in social work so I applied.  
Q: What experiences have you had in your career thus far that made you see the GaLEND program a good fit for you; and what skills have you gained that you think you were lacking? 
WW: GaLEND has allowed me to meet and interview people who are at the state and policy level about disability focused laws and services.  GSU's location next door to the state capitol really made me feel that I had a front row seat to the policy and law changes as they were being made. This program has allowed me numerous opportunities such as going to Morehouse School of Medicine to meet with fellows from the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, presenting research, and also learning more about healthcare law and standards.  I  like that the program allows you to establish your own goals and focus on areas of study that are most important for you. For me that was the foster care system in Georgia.

Q: How will you apply the skills and knowledge gained in this program in your career?
WW: In numerous ways. It has taught me how to translate research through my work with other people and get them involved and informed as well. It is one thing to know skills; but how do you share it with other people is very important. If you can use this skill and improve the world for people with disabilities that is a great thing.
Q: What part of the program were you looking forward to experiencing most?
WW:  Being able to interview people who work in the foster care programs with children with multiple disabilities and diagnoses is very important to me.
Q: How do you look at the world of disability differently since you began your time in the GaLEND program?
WW: I see it a lot differently. I guess in the past when I saw people with disabilities I really didn’t understand their struggle, especially with the laws and the policies in Georgia. It is dehumanizing to see what people go through trying to get services, or dealing with Medicaid and seeing that it does not really cover a lot. It pushes me to work harder in the field of policy. I just see it from an entirely different perspective now. And I respect those who are self-advocates who advocate as much and as hard as they can for all people with disabilities.
Q: What would you say about the GaLEND program to someone who is interested in the program?
WW: I have had a lot of people approach me about it, and the director at the school of social work has asked that I speak to others students about GaLEND. This is a fantastic program. In the field of social work I think so much is focused on direct practice. GaLEND includes the advocacy and research parts that can often be ignored. To have those opportunities to expand has really helped me prepare for career, build my policy skills,  and gain a better understanding of disability as a whole.


       CLD Events logo

2014 IMFAR Pre-Conference
May 14th 
Tech Square Research Building
Georgia Institute of Technology

           My Voice, My Participation. My Board

          Six sessions, begin May 9th
      Decatur, GA

   The 7th Annual Georgia Association for
    Positive Behavior Support Conference
              December 3-4, 2014
State University
                                                                                  Atlanta, GA 

Visit for a complete CLD calendar of events

The Center for Leadership in Disability serves as a bridge between the university and community in support of evidence-based practices that improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families. The CLD is a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD), and operates within the Center for Healthy Development and the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. 

CLD is an active member of Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) which represents the 67 UCEDDs and 43 Leadership & Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LENDs) across the United States. 

Initiatives of CLD are supported in part by Grant #90DD0662 from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities of the Administration on Community Living (USDHHS) and by Project #T73MC19939 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Public Health Service Act, Section 399BB (e)(1)(A), as amended by the Combating Autism Act of 2006) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (USDHHS). 

Join in on the conversation with the Center for Leadership in Disability on these social media sites or by emailing us: 
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School of Public Health
Georgia State University 

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