The UTHSC Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities has been awarded a National Training Initiative grant to support a one-year diversity fellowship through the U.S. Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The Boling Center is one of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), a nationwide network of programs that conduct training, research, technical assistance, and dissemination of disability-related information between universities and the communities they serve.
“This project results in a formalized and sustainable partnership between an urban UCEDD and a local minority serving institution. This partnership benefits both entities, creating a training pipeline that increases minority student participation in the disability field, while enhancing the cultural competency of all participants,” said Bruce Keisling, PhD, executive director of the Boling Center. “As an early career professional of minority status with a lived disability experience, the diversity fellow brings a lifespan perspective to the primarily pediatric-focused UCEDD and helps Boling Center faculty design activities to better integrate adults with developmental disabilities into the training and community operations of the center.”
For this grant, the Boling Center has partnered with the University of Memphis Institute on Disability, naming Louvisia Conley, MEd, EdS, as this year’s fellow. Since enrolling as a doctoral student in special education, Conley has been a part of evidence-based practice in working with family support groups and deaf education.
Each diversity fellow is responsible for completing a Capstone Project. Conley is working with Boling Center nursing faculty to contribute to a revision of the American Nursing Association’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Scope and Standards of Practice. She will also participate as one of 33 long-term trainees in the center’s interdisciplinary Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) program.
Conley says obtaining the fellowship award has provided her with a unique opportunity to teach about disability education in the workplace. “I am not defined by my disability, but I am defined by my abilities for which they can contribute,” Conley said.