I offer extensive institutional leadership experience in disability studies in educational institutions, professional organizations, advocacy organizations, and disability community organizations in the US and the world. Let me detail some of this experience, the rest of which can be found in my complete CV. The most generative field and knowledge building initiative I have led was the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Disability Studies I co-directed with Paul Longmore in 2000. This intensive, six-week residential faculty development program launched a cadre of 25 disability studies academics from across the US, many of whom now lead the field. Each of these scholars returned to their home institutions, academic networks, and professional organizations to build disability studies according to available opportunities. The efforts of this academic diaspora successfully seeded disability studies across the country and abroad. My experience with the NEH Summer Institute on Disability Studies taught me that our work as scholars is most effectively accomplished by mobilizing academic structures in addition to our own individual research and publication.
Another example of institutional leadership is my active role in building disability studies within professional organizations such as The Society for Disability Studies, The Modern Language Association (MLA), The American Studies Association, and other professional organizations. I worked most closely with the MLA to institutionalize disability studies through its infrastructure and its concomitant commitment to develop and model an accessible environment throughout the profession and for organizations across the world. I am honored to have helped spur that initiative as a founding member and early co-chair of the MLA Committee for Disability Issues in the Profession. In 2013, MLA's current president, Michael Bérubé, who was my colleague in the early development of disability studies, chose ACCESS as his presidential theme for the Convention and marked the maturity of disability studies in the humanities and MLA. At the Presidential Forum, where he generously invited me and three other established disability studies scholars to present, he proclaimed that the field could no longer be described as "emerging,” but is in fact established.
I have contributed to disability studies as an internationally recognized and experienced leader, scholar, institution builder, and academic ambassador. I have delivered and been invited to give keynote addresses and major academic lectures in 18 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and North America in recent years. In every case, these lectures are occasions—many are extended residencies—at which I do intensive faculty development, mentoring, field and building consultation, research stimulation, advocacy, and consciousness-raising both within and outside academic settings. My goal is always to develop institutional and intellectual initiatives in interdisciplinary disability studies and to mobilize those initiatives in the service of building diversity and inclusive education and public awareness about disability issues. For example, the Emory Halle Institute for Global Learning sent me on Faculty Ambassadorial Trips to Germany in 2003 and China and Korea in 2011, where I met widely with educators and organizational leaders in the areas of women’s, gender, and disability issues to plan future collaborations and exchanges.
Over the last 12 years at Emory, I have led the development of a disability studies initiative that has built a well-recognized strength in disability studies across Emory's varying schools, departments, units, and the community at large to create inclusive research, learning, technology, ethical, and resource environments. This year our Disability Studies Initiative operates on a $50,000 budget from the Provost, graduate school Dean, and College Dean and collaborates with community organizations such as The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Full Radius Dance (where I am on the board of directors), and the Atlanta Shepherd Center. The Emory Disability Studies Initiative consists of over twenty faculty members, more than twenty-five graduate students working in disability studies, undergraduates, and a wide range of departments and units at Emory. I am also writing an NSF grant with our Provost and other faculty members on barriers to inclusion for people with disabilities in higher education. The home for the Emory Disability Studies Initiative is the Emory Center for Ethics. Detailed information about this initiative can be found at http://www.disabilitystudies.emory.edu./
My field-building work at Emory over the last years has also included directing the MLA conference on Disability Studies in 2000 at Emory; mounting a Provost-sponsored faculty development workshop that trained and guided 20 Emory faculty as disability studies scholars; and, of course, bringing guests in the field to Emory. As a member of the Board of Directors of Full Radius Dance Company in Atlanta, I also led the organization's most successful fundraising efforts in over 10 years, producing more than 50% greater revenue than any previous fundraising activity. The knowledge and experience that I have gained in field building and fundraising through my work at Emory and the larger community was reinforced and further developed during my year-long residence as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2012-2013), where I had the opportunity to foster disability inclusion and diversity across the University and wider community.
This leadership experience has given me skills that are needed to work collaboratively across institutions and units within higher education and varied communities in order to advance and enhance the mission of disability equity, knowledge making, and community development. These specific skills include institution building, mobilizing existing structures, negotiating multiple stakeholder interests, fundraising and grant writing, knowledge building and dissemination, managing organizational structures, facilitating intellectual diversity, ambassadorial outreach and development, and personnel management.