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2011 Member Spotlight

Name: Tamar Heller, PhD Chicago, IL
THeller
Member since: 1979

Work: Professor/Head Department of Disability and Human Development; Director of the Institute on Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago

Why AAIDD: This has been a pivotal organization in my career starting with when I was a graduate student and presented my dissertation research and was honored by meeting the great researchers of the day in intellectual disabilities

Why Intellectual Disability: This has been my passion since working in schools and vocational programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. I also have a sister with intellectual disabilities.

AAIDD Leadership: Board Member at Large of AAIDD, Chair of Gerontology Special Interest Group, Consulting Editor on both journals


Name: Todd S. Wilson, FAAIDD Pasadena, MD

Member since: 1994TWilson

Work: Health Insurance Specialist, Division of Community Systems Transformation, Disabled & Elderly Health Programs Group, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. I am a Project Officer for the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Grant (MFP) and Contract Officer Technical Representative for the MFP Technical Assistance Contract, providing program oversight of national experts in the successful administration of home and community based services for persons with disabilities and older adults.

Why AAIDD: I joined the Association for the many opportunities it provided me, such as learning from and personally connecting with well-known leaders in the field, networking with other professionals and for being a part of a collective voice in support of equality for people with intellectual & developmental disabilities. I truly believe in the mission, values and goals of the Association and have developed many positive relationships during the years I have been a member.

Why Intellectual Disability: Over twenty years ago, I began my career working as a job coach for a provider of community employment services. There, I developed a real passion and commitment to promoting independence, inclusion and active community participation for people with intellectual & developmental disabilities.

AAIDD Leadership: Awards and Fellowship Committee, Conference Futures Committee, Ad Hoc Membership Futures Committee,Nominations & Elections Committee, Region IX officer, Region IX Conference Planning Committee, Assembly of Regions / Geographic Interests, Maryland Chapter, Vocational Rehabilitation Division


Name: Vanessa Ervin

Member since: 1992VErvin

Work: As the President and CEO of Carobell Inc. our CARF certified programs provide community inclusion
and community integrated services for persons with cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

Why AAIDD: I’d like to say, why not AAIDD? I attribute many of my successes and my opportunities to serve on state and national policy boards to AAIDD. It constantly demonstrates the ability to embrace young professionals and merge them with leaders in the field. Together they share one vision that empowers advocacy, research, networking and most importantly to me, the ability to define and express my forte.

Why Intellectual Disability: Growing up in Chicago I watched my Aunt give up her teaching career to raise my cousin, Jeff, who was born with hydrocephalus. Jeff lived well beyond his prognosis. I also had a German language teacher invite me to teach a Sunday school class with her and my passion was fueled for life. Now, because of the opportunities AAIDD has afforded me, I currently serve as a state and regional board member for the American Hospital Association promoting diversity in care issues.

AAIDD Leadership: AAIDD Past Religion and Spirituality President, Past North Carolina State President, served on various Ad Hoc committees.



Name:
Carol Britton Laws, MSW

Member since: 2008CBritton

Work: I am a doctoral candidate at the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia. I am currently instructing in UGA’s undergraduate social work program, and I am co-chairing the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) Education, Training, and Workforce Development Committee when not working feverishly on my dissertation: Credentialing as a Predictor of Staff Retention in Supports for Aging Adults with Developmental Disabilities. I will be graduating in 2012.

Why AAIDD: I joined AAIDD while I was working at the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities in New Jersey as an MSW graduate student. In AAIDD, I found an international association of professionals from multiple disciplines and backgrounds, working together for the progression of the human rights and equality of those who are all too often oppressed and overlooked. This focus resonated with me. I have learned much over the past four years from AAIDD’s membership, and always look forward to attending the annual conference, even while on a student’s budget.

Why Intellectual Disability: I ‘fell into’ the field after college when I accepted a job as a support worker for a family with a boy with autism. I also worked in direct support for adults with cognitive disabilities in a residential program, and for people with disabilities in a physical therapy clinic. I later worked at a nonprofit organization providing community-based recreational services, respite, and family support. The systems that surround developmental disabilities fascinate me, both for their ability to expand and constrict what is possible for people living with disabilities. I hope that my research will contribute to the application of practices which build capacity for people with disabilities to live meaningful, supported, community-based lives of their choosing.

AAIDD Leadership: AAIDD Leadership: Member, Student and Early Career Professionals SIG; Member, Direct Support Professionals SIG.