CEHD News Tom Donaghy

CEHD News Tom Donaghy

ICI film about school inclusion in Armenia receives award

Cover image of the film, "Education for Every Child: Armenia's Path to Inclusion."The documentary film Education for Every Child: Armenia’s Path to Inclusion, directed by ICI’s Jerry Smith, has received a Gold Award at the 2018 MarCom Awards, an international creative competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communication professionals. The film explores the work of University of Minnesota researchers collaborating with UNICEF-Armenia and Armenian State Pedagogical University (ASPU) in developing fully inclusive schools for children with disabilities. “Beyond strategies for promoting full inclusion, this film shows the value of building strong partnerships and underscores ICI’s international reach,” says Smith.

The 28-minute film is part of Enhancing the Inclusion of Children and Youth with Disabilities in Armenia: University of Minnesota – Armenian State Pedagogical University Partnership (ASPU), a collaborative project between ICI and ASPU. The documentary features ICI researchers Brian Abery and Renáta Tichá, and Christopher Johnstone from the University’s College of Education and Human Development, who along with Smith and Associate Professor Susan O’Connor from Augsburg University in Minneapolis worked with their Armenian counterparts. Armenia is making education more inclusive, triggering a critical need for training, knowledge dissemination, and technical assistance to support this endeavor, and ASPU is the only university in the country that trains both general and special education personnel. Besides the film, the project has also: (1) published Inclusive Education Strategies: A Textbook, an Armenian/English language publication written by 13 U.S. and 12 Armenian authors; (2) revised four ASPU courses on inclusion for general and special education personnel; (3) hosted three webinars on supporting students with mild and more significant disabilities, as well as peer-assisted learning strategies; and (4) produced three learning modules, one each on co-teaching, Universal Design for Learning, and instructional strategies for inclusive classrooms.

Johnson receives George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award from AUCD

David R. Johnson receives award from George Jesien.
David R. Johnson (right) receives award from George Jesien at AUCD conference.

On November 13, ICI’s David R. Johnson received the George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. This national award recognizes an executive, faculty or staff member from a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, or Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Center (IDDRC) who has demonstrated a distinguished career of excellence and leadership in support of AUCD’s mission to advance policy and practice for and with people living with developmental and other disabilities, their families, and communities.

Johnson, who directed ICI from 1997 until June 2018, was nominated by the current director, Amy Hewitt, and David O’Hara of the Westchester Institute. “Dr. Johnson has a lifetime of leadership, service, scholarship, published authorship, as professor and mentor,” they wrote in their letter to the AUCD Award Committee. “For nearly 40 years, Dr. Johnson has devoted his career to improving education and transition services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through research, demonstration, teaching, and education. Without question, Dr. Johnson has made significant contributions to dissemination of knowledge in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities that have made an impact at a national and international level. His resume could come in chapters but has a simple theme: equality, access, and opportunity for all persons with disabilities.”

“David is the iconic scholar and gentleperson who has always been ready to help, to listen, and to offer support to friends, colleagues, and students alike,” said George Jesien, the former AUCD Executive Director for whom the award is named and who presented the award to Johnson. “His engagement in any discussion invariably raises the level of discourse, bringing new information, relevant historical facts, along with the rare ability to focus in on details while maintaining a thorough recognition of the big picture. David Johnson is an accomplished researcher, effective teacher and mentor, a highly respected administrator, and incredibly productive professor who is eminently qualified to be recognized for his commitment and contribution to the field of disabilities and to the AUCD network of centers.”

“I have enjoyed a wonderful, fulfilling career,” said Johnson (pictured at right with George Jesien) as he accepted the award. “And I have come to fully recognize that my work with the members of this organization influenced my conviction that our great universities are essential partners in advancing the public good through our interdisciplinary research and education, and sustained community engagement. It is important for us all to recognize that the work we do makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Johnson continues to work on ICI research and development projects focused on the transition of youth with disabilities from school to further education, employment, and community living. He is also professor and coordinator of graduate programs in evaluation studies at the College’s Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development.

New Diversity Fellowship: Applications due October 22

Diversity Fellowship staff.
Diversity Fellowship staff.

ICI’s Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL) has launched a new fellowship opportunity that aims to (1) increase the disability knowledge capacity within a community-based organization (CBO) that serves diverse and/or underrepresented families, and (2) inform ICI about how to increase staff/trainee diversity, support underserved individuals and families, and better serve diverse communities. Known as the Research and Training Center on Community Living Diversity Fellowships, the project began September 1 and is part of RTC-CL’s ongoing efforts to address the professional and educational disparities experienced by historically underrepresented communities in Minnesota. It will also expand the Center’s network to diverse staff and stakeholders. The Diversity Fellowship is funded by a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Administration on Disabilities’ Excellence in Developmental Disabilities National Training Initiative in the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This project will fund two Fellows. One will be a CBO staff member who serves underrepresented Minnesota families and is interested in the disability field. The other Fellow will be a graduate student or MNLEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program) alumna/alumnus or a person with emerging expertise (which may include lived experience) in serving individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their families, and who is interested in community work. Both Fellows will commit to a year-long project chosen in collaboration with their CBO and RTC-CL mentors.

Jennifer Hall-Lande (pictured at right) is the project’s Principal Investigator (PI) and Heidi Eschenbacher (third from left) is Co-PI. Other project staff are Rebecca Dosch Brown (left) and Anab Gulaid (second from left).

For further information on this opportunity, or to apply, please click here. Applications are due October 22 at noon Central Time.

ICI supports social inclusion of young Russians with disabilities

Brian Abery and Renáta Tichá in Moscow in 2015.
Brian Abery and Renáta Tichá in Moscow in 2015.

Brian Abery and Renáta Tichá (pictured in Moscow during a previous trip) from the Global Resource Center for Inclusive Education (GRC) at the Institute on Community Integration have launched a project known as Community Participation and Employment as Strategies for Social inclusion: A U.S.-Russian Dialogue. The project aims to enhance the social inclusion of youth and young adults with disabilities by developing community living and supported employment programs in the Moscow area. Funded by a one-year, $29,000 grant that began on June 22 from the Eurasia Foundation’s U.S.-Russian Federation Social Expertise Exchange Program, Tichá and Abery will work with a Russian nongovernmental organization called Journey Through Life to develop materials that support youth with disabilities to successfully transition from school to employment and community living. Activities will include staff from Journey Through Life visiting Minnesota for a 10-day period this fall to observe employment and community living programs, and GRC staff will travel to Russia to provide technical assistance to their partnering organization.

“Many Russian parents don’t see the point of educating children and youth with disabilities because options in Russia for supported community living and employment are virtually non-existent,” says Abery. “Working with nongovernmental organizations and parents on these transition issues can both enhance the quality of life of persons with disabilities and begin to change public attitudes towards this part of the population.”

Tichá agrees. “This project helps us continue our work in the Russian Federation by supporting the infrastructure needed for community living and employment for young adults with disabilities. This project builds on GRC’s previous work in the Russian Federation, which focused on community living, employment, and inclusive education for adults, youth and children with disabilities.”

New director and new five-year funding for Institute on Community Integration

Amy Hewitt.The College’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) has begun its 33rd year of operation with the appointment of a new director, and the award of renewed five-year funding. On July 1, Dr. Amy Hewitt became ICI’s director, the fourth to hold that position since ICI was established in 1985. The Institute also received renewed federal funding from the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which continues ICI’s designation as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).

For more than 30 years, Hewitt has worked to improve community inclusion and the quality of life for children, youth, and adults with disabilities and their families. She has been ICI’s training director since 2002, and is the director of both the Research and Training Center on Community Living and the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (MNLEND) program, as well as co-director of the Rehabilitation and Research Training Center on Outcome Measurement. In the course of her work at ICI she has additionally directed numerous federal and state research, evaluation, and demonstration projects in the area of community long-term services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.

A national leader in the disability field, Hewitt is president-elect of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and a past president of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). In Minnesota, she has served on the board of The Arc Minnesota, and several state level advisory and work groups, where she emphasizes community collaboration. She currently serves on the statewide advisory committee of the Minnesota Disability Law Center.

“I am honored, humbled, and looking forward to the opportunities and challenges to continue our mission-based work to improve policies and practices to ensure that all children, youth and adults with disabilities are valued by, and contribute to, their communities of choice,” Hewitt says. ICI’s renewed core funding as a UCEDD will support the Institute’s continued engagement in collaborative research, training, and outreach in partnership with service providers, policymakers, educators, advocacy and self-advocacy organizations, researchers, families, and individuals with disabilities around the world. The first year’s funding award is $547,000 in federal funds, with a $200,000 match from the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development.

New Impact focuses on direct support workforce and people with disabilities

Cover of Impact: Feature Issue on the Direct Support Workforce and People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other DisabilitiesThe direct support workforce is crucial in providing daily supports to people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities in the U.S. as they live and participate in their communities. While demand for these supports has never been higher and will continue to grow, significant challenges exist in finding, keeping, and training Direct Support Professionals. The new Impact: Feature Issue on the Direct Support Workforce and People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities (pictured) examines the workforce challenges in our long-term care system and their consequences. It presents data on the direct support workforce; shares personal stories of what is and isn’t working for those delivering and receiving supports; looks at creative, bold actions being taken around the country to address workforce issues; and explores ways to ensure that quality supports are there for people with disabilities and their families in all our communities.

Impact is published by the Institute on Community Integration, and the Research and Training Center on Community Living, within the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

AUCD features MNLEND story about sensory tents in Minneapolis parks

Sarah Thorson (left), Erica Chua (center), and Elise Niedermeier (right), all from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Niedermeier is a MNLEND Fellow.

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) website featured MNLEND Fellow Elise Niedermeier‘s collaboration with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to bring sensory tents to the Minneapolis parks this summer. Sensory tents can help people, such as children with autism, cope with sensory overload. The article is titled, “MNLEND Fellow Leads Creation of Sensory Tents in the Minneapolis Parks.”

AUCD is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs; ICI is a member of this organization. The Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (MNLEND) Program is an ICI center.

ICI film on “Normalization” of people with disabilities screened at Walker Art Center

DVD cover of the film "Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization."
DVD cover of the film “Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization.”

Valuing Lives: Wolf Wolfensberger and the Principle of Normalization screened to an audience of over 300 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis on March 1. The film, directed by Jerry Smith of the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), explores a concept developed in the 1960s that provided a framework for moving people from large institutions into their home communities. This had a dramatic influence on services and supports for people with intellectual disabilities and fundamentally changed the way many professionals understood their roles in supporting people. Dr. Colleen Wieck set the stage historically with a presentation on the impact of Normalization in Minnesota. A panel discussion following the film examined the need to revisit Wolfensberger’s ideas, at a time when many communities are building new, segregated facilities for people with disabilities. The evening at the Walker concluded with a tribute to ICI’s Angelo Amado, who is retiring in March. Valuing Lives is available for purchase at rtcmedia.vhx.tv.

Institute on Community Integration welcomes visit by Russian partners on Peer-to-Peer Project

Anna Chistokhina (left) and Zoya Berdnikova (center) from the Social Innovation Fund in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, traveled to ICI in January for a scouting trip as part of the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Project, a collaborative project with ICI’s Global Resource Center on Inclusive Education (GRC). The project, funded by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, is developing systems to support the community inclusion and employment of young adults with disabilities.

Chistokhina and Berdinkova, along with GRC co-directors Renáta Tichá (far right) and Brian Abery, visited sites focused on transition from secondary school to community living and employment by young adults with disabilities, and discussed similarities and differences between service and support approaches in the U.S. and the Russian Federation. Among the sites were the Success Beyond program in St. Paul (pictured), Lionsgate Academy, and The Arc of Minnesota; they also shadowed professionals who support young adults with disabilities in community-based settings. This was part of the preparation and planning for a larger Russian delegation coming to ICI in April.

The Peer-to-Peer project is a continuation of a long-standing partnership between Krasnoyarsk State University and ICI. “What I really enjoy about this continued collaboration between Krasnoyarsk and Minnesota is how sincere and dedicated our Russian partners are to making a difference in the lives of children and young adults with disabilities back home,” says Tichá.

Minnesota DHS renews Positive Supports contract with RTC-CL

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has renewed its contract with the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL), at the Institute on Community Integration, for continuation of training and technical assistance to build capacity for implementing positive support practices across the state. The $1.2 million contract extends the current work begun in 2012 by RTC-CL’s  Minnesota DHS Systems Change and Capacity Building Through Research, Training, and Technical Assistance Projects, work that enhances Minnesota’s capacity to support community living for individuals with disabilities and/or mental illness. Minnesota DHS has made a new five-year commitment to working with RTC-CL, beginning with a two-year agreement for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. The project directors at RTC-CL are Amy Hewitt and Rachel Freeman. “This DHS contract provides an important vehicle for building the capacity for person-centered practices and positive supports across the state of Minnesota and to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities using large-scale systems change,” says Freeman.

The new contract’s primary areas of focus include expanding implementation of statewide person-centered practices and positive behavior support through regional training and technical assistance; building service professional capacity using DirectCourse, the online competency-based training system operated by a partnership of the RTC-CL and Elsevier; facilitation, coordination, and implementation support for Minnesota’s statewide plan for building effective systems for implementing positive practices and supports; technical assistance and training for organizational change to promote the use of person-centered practices within Minnesota DHS; building and sustaining in-state training capacity for person-centered thinking and person-centered planning; development of Web-based resources on best practices in implementing person-centered and positive behavior supports; and coordination of communities of practice for person centered practices and positive behavior supports.

ICI supports cross-cultural identification, screening, and intervention for autism

Hall-Lande at CDC headquarters in Atlanta where she trained in 2016.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) renewed the appointment of ICI’s Jennifer Hall-Lande as the Minnesota Act Early Ambassador, extending it through October 2018 to spread the CDC’s “Learn the Signs, Act Early” message throughout the state.

CDC trained her to develop and expand on ICI’s Act Early work of promoting early identification, screening, and intervention for autism and related neurodevelopmental disabilities in culturally- and linguistically-diverse communities across Minnesota. That work expanded this fall when the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), through a subcontract from CDC, awarded her $137,000 for a new nine-month project, “Learn the Signs, Act Early” Formative Research Evaluation of Developmental Books. ”

This project helps the Minnesota Act Early team to evaluate the effectiveness of our materials in promoting parent-led developmental monitoring, and it’s also a great opportunity for building a strong professional partnership with the AUCD team and UCEDDs in New York and Indiana,” she says. UCEDDs (University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) are a federally-designated network of programs similar to ICI that are housed in major universities and teaching hospitals across the country to promote a nation in which all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities.

“This grant adds to ICI’s growing portfolio of ‘Learn the Signs, Act Early’ projects, including our Outreach Work and State Systems Grant: Minnesota Act Early,” says Hall-Lande. Also, in September, ICI’s Minnesota Act Early team partnered with Minnesota Help Me Grow to train another group of cultural delegates to conduct Learn the Signs outreach in their communities. The newly-trained delegates join the ranks of an existing “Minnesota Learn the Signs, Act Early” statewide network of approximately 100 trained delegates who use the Act Early materials and resources to help parents monitor child development. In this way, delegates connect with families in their communities to support early identification.

ICI promoting community inclusion for young Russians and Americans with disabilities

Renáta Tichá and Brian Abery in Moscow in 2015.

On October 1, the College’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) received a one-year, $100,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to create virtual and in-person platforms for dialogues between professionals and parents who support young Russians and Americans with disabilities. The goal is to develop opportunities and strategies for inclusive community living and employment (independent or semi-independent housing and community participation) for young adults with disabilities in both countries. Specifically, the grant will support 16- to 21-year-olds in the Twin Cities and in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Known as the U.S.–Russia Peer-to-Peer Project: Developing Systems to Support the Employment and Community Inclusion of Young Adults with Disabilities, the collaboration will include electronic exchanges on inclusive community living and employment. There will be dual person-to-person exchanges between Russia and the U.S. (including conferences in each country) and dialogues about how culture affects community inclusion in both countries. The exchanges will feature seven adults in each country, including professionals, family members, and at least one person with a disability representing each country. The project will form learning communities to serve as resources for successful transition approaches and strategies, author a guide outlining key practical steps for inclusive employment and community living, and create online modules in these areas available in both countries.

The Russian collaborator on the project is the Social Innovation Fund in Krasnoyarsk. Project director Renáta Tichá and colleague Brian Abery (pictured together in Moscow in 2015) have worked on various projects with people in Krasnoyarsk, including staff from Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical University, and look forward to expanding those relationships. “This project is an important continuation of our work with professionals in Krasnoyarsk who support children and youth with disabilities. This new opportunity provides a venue for collaboration with our colleagues on transition issues for young adults with disabilities from school to community,” says Tichá. U.S.–Russia Peer-to-Peer is a project of ICI’s Global Resource Center for Inclusive Education, of which Tichá is also director.

Poetz to receive National Leadership Award from AUCD

Photograph of Cliff Poetz, self-advocate for people with disabilities, at the Minnesota State Capitol.
Cliff Poetz, self-advocate for people with disabilities, at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Cliff Poetz of the College’s Institute on Community Integration will receive the Leadership in Advocacy Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) during the AUCD 2017 conference in Washington, DC on November 5-8. The award is presented to an outstanding individual or family member who has exhibited exceptional leadership and self-advocacy skills in the area of developmental disabilities.

Poetz’s self-advocacy began in 1970. Like many people with developmental disabilities at the time, he lived in a large institution and was labeled “retarded.” But his institution was in Minneapolis and “the city was alive with talk of social change and civil rights,” he recalls. Poetz protested the discrimination, people listened, and the media took notice. He has influenced social change and legislation every since. An active and effective advocate, he helped launch Advocating Change Together in the late 1970s and People First Minnesota in the 1980s. He went on to serve as a board member of numerous organizations and has had advisory roles with a number of foundations and academic centers.

“I only wish my parents could have seen how my life has turned out,” he reflects. “They would not believe how I live on my own, how I travel all over the country, how people with impressive titles and jobs know me and listen to me. Self-advocacy has given me wonderful opportunities. I see my involvement in continuing to organize self-advocacy groups as one way that I can help other people have wonderful opportunities of their own.”

NCEO receives $10 million to establish new center to support inclusive practices for students with significant cognitive disabilities

Sheryl Lazarus, principal investigator.
Kristin Liu, co-principal investigator.

The National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the college’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) has been awarded a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs to establish a National Technical Assistance Center on Inclusive Practices and Policies. The new center will be called The TIES Center: Increasing Time, Instructional Effectiveness, Engagement, and State Support for Inclusive Practices for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities. Sheryl Lazarus will be the principal investigator and Kristin Liu the co-principal investigator.

The purpose of the TIES Center is to create sustainable changes in school and district educational systems so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional activities as their general education peers while being instructed in a way that meets individual learning needs.

The TIES Center will be funded for five years, $2 million per year. Subcontractors for the TIES Center identified by NCEO are University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of North Carolina Greensboro, University of Cincinnati, CAST, University of Kentucky and the Arizona Department of Education.

“This is wonderful opportunity for NCEO and its partners to do important and exciting work on the inclusion of students with significant cognitive disabilities,” says Lazarus. Future project activities will support increased student engagement and improved learning outcomes for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

What the TIES Center Will Do

The primary outcome of the TIES Center is to improve the quality of instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities in inclusive environments through the use of existing curriculum and instructional materials. The new center will also provide models and coaching to both general education and special education teachers to create more inclusive opportunities. In addition the TIES Center will support changes to inclusive practices and policies within partner state and local education agencies.

The TIES Center has identified five goals to support its outcomes:

  1. Develop professional learning communities in partner state and local education agencie
  2. Develop coaching models for implementation of resources, inclusive practices and communicative competence.
  3. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing resources.
  4. Support parents to become partners in the practice of inclusion for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
  5. Support systems change within the leadership of state and local education agencies for implementation of inclusive practices.

Established in 1990, NCEO is a federally-funded technical-assistance center that supports states and districts on issues related to inclusive assessments, particularly for students with disabilities, English learners (ELs) and ELs with disabilities.

Promoting employment for people with disabilities

ICI's Jeffrey Nurick speaking at a conference.
ICI’s Jeffrey Nurick speaking at a conference.

Employment for people with disabilities is a growing trend and researchers and staff from the College’s Institute on Community Integration are spreading the word. For example, on June 19-22, Kelly Nye-Lengerman presented four sessions at the National APSE (Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst) conference in Portland, Oregon. They were: “Full Speed Ahead: Promoting Youth Readiness for Employment and Education with PROMISE”, “How Are We Doing with Implementing Good Practice in Employment Supports?”, “Power of 5: Moving the Needle: The Words We Use Matter”, and “Bringing Employment First to Scale: State of the Science.” Meanwhile, on June 22, Jeffrey Nurick (pictured) was in Duluth as a panelist on the discussion, “Living the Dream: Employment First in Action,” at the Minnesota Age & Disabilities Odyssey conference.

ICI’s Gulaid among panelists for Voice of America town hall on autism and vaccines


ICI's Anab Gulaid (in blue headscarf) is interviewed on camera at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs on July 8, 2017.
ICI’s Anab Gulaid (in blue headscarf) is interviewed on camera at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs on July 8, 2017.

Anab Gulaid, a public health expert in CEHD’s Institute on Community Integration, was a panelist for Vaccine and Autism: Myths and Facts, a recent town hall forum held to address Somali parents’ concerns about the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, autism, and the measles outbreak affecting the Twin Cities’ Somali community.

Held on July 8 at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the forum was hosted by the Humphrey School and the Voice of America news network, which broadcast the two panel discussions – one in Somali and one in English – to its worldwide audience. The gathering, which was covered by numerous media (e.g., Minnesota Public Radio,  Fox 9 News), was prompted by the measles outbreak tied to low MMR vaccination rates among Minnesota’s Somali community.

See video of the panel discussion in English (which includes a short segment on autism research by CEHD faculty Jed Elison and Jason Wolff) and the other panel discussion in Somali (which includes Anab Gulaid).

Hewitt accepts University’s Innovation Award

Amy Hewitt, holding the award, accepting it on behalf of the DirectCourse team, who are also in the picture.
Amy Hewitt (fifth from right) accepted the award on behalf of the DirectCourse team (pictured).

Crediting her colleagues at DirectCourse, the Institute on Community Integration’s Amy Hewitt accepted a Committee’s Choice Award at the University of Minnesota’s 2017 Innovation Awards on March 28.

Hosted by the University’s Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office for Technology Commercialization, the event at the McNamara Alumni Center recognized 220 University inventors whose technology had been licensed or patented between July 2014 and June 2016. Hewitt’s award was one of only four Innovation Awards presented, all of which recognize the accomplishments of outstanding University innovators who have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit, are actively engaged in developing new innovations and transitioning those technologies to the commercial market, and have made an impact on society.

DirectCourse is an online training curriculum designed to empower support and care professionals to help people with intellectual, developmental, physical, and psychiatric disabilities, and older adults, lead meaningful lives within their communities. During last year alone, it provided more than 6 million hours of training to over 500,000 learners in 41 states and abroad.

Hewitt has led the research, development, and management of DirectCourse over the past 15 years, working with a team of staff at ICI, its business partners at Elsevier, and its community roots. “I am delighted that this award recognizes an ‘invention’ that was created by and for the community in alignment with our university’s land grant mission to promote education and collaboration that advances knowledge which benefits communities, the state, and the world,” Hewitt told the gathering. “DirectCourse was not created in a laboratory on campus: the community was its laboratory and this has made all the difference. The learning provided by DirectCourse has had an immediate and lasting effect on hundreds of thousands of direct support professionals and the people with disabilities they support.”

Image of Amy Hewitt in a short video about DirectCourse.
Amy Hewitt speaks about DirectCourse in this short video.

The photograph (at top of post) was taken at the awards ceremony. Pictured, from left to right, are Bill Waibel (Elsevier), Barb Kleist, Jennifer Hall-Lande, Macdonald Metzger, Mark Olson, Barbara Cullen (Elsevier), Merrie Haskins, Susan ONell, Claire Benway, Kelly Nye-Lengerman, Amy Hewitt, Dan Raudenbush (Elsevier), Kristin Dean, David R. Johnson, and Bill Tapp (co-founder). Click here for more information about the awards and a short video.

Nye-Lengerman receives AUCD Young Professional Award

On December 6, Kelly Nye-Lengerman from the College’s Institute on Community Integration received the AUCD Young Professional Award during the AUCD annual conference in Washington, DC. This award is presented to professionals in the disabilities field under the age of 40 who have demonstrated dedication and commitment to people with developmental disabilities and their families through their work as a bridge between the academic sector and the community.

Gulaid joins National Advisory Committee

In October,  Anab Gulaid from the college’s Institute on Community Integration was invited to join the National Advisory Committee for the Diversity & Inclusion Training Action Plan (D&I-TAP), a one-year project funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of the project is to research, develop, and disseminate a D&I-TAP for the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), of which ICI is a member. Gulaid’s committee duties began in November.