October 2023
CLD Appoints Two Interim Directors and a Senior Advisor

The Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) announced the appointment of Dr. Erin Vinoski Thomas and Dr. Kathleen M. Baggett as the new interim directors. As CLD searches for its next permanent Director, CLD's Founding Director, Dr. Daniel Crimmins, will serve as Senior Advisor to the Interim Co-Directors. 
Dr. Erin Vinoski Thomas began working at CLD in 2012. She completed her Ph.D. in Public Health Sciences at UNC Charlotte. Dr. Thomas returned to the GSU School of Public Health in 2019 as a faculty member in the Department of Health Policy & Behavioral Sciences and CLD's Director of Health & Wellness. She began serving as CLD's Associate Director in July 2021. Since 2019, she has secured over $3.7 million in external funding as PI to support CLD's work addressing health equity for adults with disabilities living in Georgia.

"CLD has been my professional home for over a decade. I am honored to serve in this interim capacity as we search for CLD's next permanent Director," said Dr. Vinowski Thomas. "My goal as Interim Co-Director is to continue to support the outstanding work of our CLD staff, faculty, and broader community while collaborating with SPH leadership during this time of transition."
Dr. Kathleen Baggett began her career at the University of Kansas in 2001. Within the Life Span Institute, the Juniper Gardens Children's Project was her home as a Research Professor, Senior Scientist, and Licensed Psychologist. She is now a tenured Associate Professor in the School of Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Behavioral Sciences.

For the past five years, she has served as Director of the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development, a university-level research center in the SPH, and home to the CLD. She has procured more than $29 million in sponsored funding to advance the science and practice of optimizing infant-toddler development and parent well-being among mothers experiencing mental health challenges, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
"My goal as Interim Co-Director is to support CLD in continuing to thrive as a leader here in Georgia and nationally," said Dr. Baggett.

Dr. Daniel Crimmins retired from the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) in 2021 after 12 years at the organization's helm. Dr. Crimmins’ new role as a senior advisor will involve supporting continuity with program funders, developing CLD's proposal for the next five years of funding, and providing guidance on the CLD Director search. CLD is thrilled to have his expertise in the room once again!

Their appointments began on August 1, 2023. 
CLD Spotlight: Kylie Moore, GaLEND's First Self-Advocate

Kylie Moore was a self-advocate of the first Georgia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (GaLEND) cohort from 2011-2012. GaLEND is a one-year interdisciplinary training experience that prepares tomorrow's leaders to provide coordinated, culturally competent and family-centered care to children and their families.

Kylie has cerebral palsy and lives with her family in Roswell, Georgia. She graduated from Reinhardt University in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Kylie was always interested in helping people with disabilities, so becoming a disability advocate was a promising career fit. During her junior year of college, she completed an internship at a non-profit organization that serves individuals with developmental disabilities called EnAble of Georgia. There, she was asked to teach advocacy and human rights classes to seven adults in their program. Self-advocacy is one of the most critical ways that persons with disabilities can fully integrate into community living. Self-advocacy is speaking up for oneself and one's interests, needs, and rights.

After graduation, Kylie enrolled in Partners in Policymaking for more training in public policy and disability advocacy. One of Kylie's classmates offered her a job at her organization, Great Prospects Inc. At Great Prospects, she taught self-advocacy, job, and life skills classes to young adults with developmental disabilities transitioning out of high school while completing her GaLEND fellowship.

Kylie currently works with the Bobby Dodd Institute, an organization that assists people with disabilities in securing benefits to job placement services and creating job opportunities for people of all abilities.
CLD Publications
Dr. Erin Vinoski Thomas and Sydnie Smith’s article, “Health and Quality of Life among People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Direct Support Professionals during the early United States COVID-19 Pandemic,” co-authored with several former SPH students and a CLD intern, was published in the Developmental Disabilities Network Journal. Read Article.
Dr. Brian Barger and Ashley Ogbonna-Solomon's article "Medical Home, Developmental Monitoring/Screening, and Early Autism Identification" has been published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The study is available online.
University Programs
Angad Sahgal, an IDEAL Student, was included in the signing of Mayor Andre Dickens' inclusive language guide on 9/7/2023. He was selected to attend this event for his involvement as an entrepreneur with Synergies Work, a community of disabled entrepreneurs. Read More
The Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy (IDEAL) Program at GSU began the Fall 2023 semester with 23 students with intellectual disabilities. Students are enrolled in 30 inclusive courses in Art, Film, Music, Theater, Creative Media Industries, English, Speech, and Communications departments across campus. 

IDEAL at GSU was honored at the 2023 Big Game Ball sponsored by the National Down Syndrome Congress on 8/26/2023 at the College Football Hall of Fame. The event honored postsecondary programs serving those with intellectual disabilities and individuals and organizations advancing opportunities for those with Down syndrome to attend postsecondary inclusive education programs.

M. Alyce Benson, LCSW, Associate Project Facilitator with the National Center for START Services, University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability, presented to our Georgia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (GaLEND) program. Benson presented "Mental Health Aspects of IDD: Psychiatric Disorders and the Biopsychosocial Approach."

Faculty & Staff Updates
The TA Institute is an annual multi-day training and technical assistance event for UCEDD Directors and their designees to network and problem solve with peers. The TA Institute provides an opportunity for UCEDD leaders to network, learn of new initiatives, national trends, and other information vital to the administration of the UCEDD programs. Attending the event was Ashley Ogbonna-Solomon and Darien Todd.
Erin Vinoski Thomas, Ph.D. Associate Director and Interim Director of CLD was awarded a $166K grant from the Public Health National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability from 8/1/23 to 7/31/26.

With the funding, CLD will partner with the LIFE Center for Independent Living in Savannah to address at least one health priority for people with mobility disabilities in the Savannah area. The health priority topic will be determined in partnership with the disability community in the first six months of the project.

The program for the Georgia Association for Infant Mental Health: Birth to Five Kick-Off is a winner in the GRAPHIC DESIGN USA's 60th Anniversary In-house Design Awards! 

Congratulations to the designer and art director, Gail Rodriguez, CLD's Communications Manager, on the project.

The competition showcases in-house design excellence at corporations, non-profits, and institutions. This year, there were 5,000+ entries across all media. 
CLD's New Staff

We are pleased to announce that our team is growing. Here are the new additions to the CLD family in 2023.

Megan Walsh, MSW, Community Services Specialist. Megan brings 20 years of experience in the social work field to her position at the CLD. Megan was also a GaLEND trainee in 2022-23 and is excited to continue working for this amazing program.

Hasset Zelealem, MPH, recently joined the Center as a Research Associate. Hasset will support facilitating and evaluating Functional Behavior Assessment/Behavior Intervention Plan training for public K-12 educators across the state. Hasset recently graduated from the GSU School of Public Health and has a maternal and child health background. She looks forward to supporting the continued education of professionals serving young children in this role.

IDEAL welcomed Program Manager Joshua Cohen to the team. Joshua, a certified special educator, will work with IDEAL students to engage in academics. Joshua will also support faculty from different departments to work with students, utilize universal design for learning in their classrooms, and make sure students are successfully included in all parts of academic life. 
Babies Can't Wait Conference

The Babies Can't Wait conference on August 15-17, 2023, "Reimagining and Rebuilding, Early Intervention in Georgia" celebrated and acknowledged the valuable early intervention work in Georgia while looking ahead toward evolving to more accessible, inclusive, and culturally relevant practices and services.

The event was attended by over 250 people and an additional 200 virtually across the three days. The event had over 50 breakout sessions with featured speakers on all three days.
Save the Dates
OCTOBER 18, 2023 • 2PM
Shahla Alai-Rosales, Professor at the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service, will deliver the 2023 John R. Lutzker Lecture at the GSU School of Public Health at 2 p.m. Wednesday, October 18, in the Centennial Hall Auditorium (100 Auburn Ave NE). Her lecture, which will provide an overview of practices that nurture joy in the lives of young children with autism, their families, and their supporting professionals, is titled “Contingencies of Joy.” A reception will follow. 
NOVEMBER 29, 2023 • 8AM -5PM

GA-AIMH 2023 Conference
Nurturing Connections Birth to Five

Join us at Georgia State University for a day of brave thinking, intentional conversations, and meaningful connections. We welcome GA-AIMH members, individual and organizational partners, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) experts across the field, individuals with lived experience and students, to learn and grow together during this year's GA-AIMH 2023 Conference. Whether you're a newcomer to the field or a seasoned professional, the GA-AIMH Conference provides countless opportunities to share with and learn from colleagues and peers. 
You can make a difference by making a commitment at any financial level.
Invest in the Center for Leadership in Disability's future through a private gift. GIVE NOW!