Strategic Plan

AHEAD's Mission, Vision and Core Values

Through progressive, visionary leadership, grounded in social justice principles, AHEAD: develops, shares, and provides relevant knowledge; strategically engages in actions that enhance higher educational professionals' effectiveness; and advocates on behalf of its membership, their institutions, their work, and those they serve ensuring full, effective participation by individuals with disabilities in every aspect of the postsecondary experience.

AHEAD envisions a postsecondary experience that embraces disability and is free from barriers.

Core Values

  • Diversity: We believe in creating and promoting diverse educational communities to foster the exchange of ideas and perspectives, offering the opportunity for individual growth and developing a forum that honors the disability experience.
  • Equity: Recognizing that equality is NOT the same as equity, we believe in developing resources and fostering attitudes that provide a truly equitable experience that is responsive to individuals' strengths, weaknesses, and differences.
  • Respect: We believe in providing everyone with an opportunity to express individual thoughts, feelings, ideas, and needs; we listen and honor the individual's right to be heard, even if we do not agree.
  • Inclusivity: We believe in creating an inclusive community that encourages participation of all members, colleagues, practitioners, students, and stakeholders in an environment of mutual respect, opportunity for development, and honor of personal experience.

Strategic Objectives and Goals (2015- 2020)

Strategic Objectives and Goals

Goal 1:  Inform, define and lead the conversation around disability in the postsecondary educational environment

Objective I:  Promote the value of members and the profession

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Define the role of DS as a profession: identify core competencies. Board of Directors/staff 2017
Up-sell members on their campuses. Board/ED 2018
Foster external recognition and value of the profession. Reps/Affiliates/Liaisons/Board 2020
Develop student learning outcome measures. CAS Reps/Identified Members 2017

Objective 2:  Research/education

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Define/publicize a comprehensive research agenda, including leveraging research to practice articles in the JPED. Board/Designated Taskforce 2017
Describe and define a "social justice" approach in disability services. 2018
Foster a "social justice" approach in disability services. Board/Standing Committees 2020

Objective 3:  Engage in outreach activities strategically

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Strategically target outreach to student affairs, academic affairs, other organizations, allies, transition, government, and political entities. Board/Reps/Affiliates/Liaisons /ED Spring 2015 and ongoing

 Objective 4: Value the disability experience

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Promote the voices of students, faculty, staff and administrators with disabilities. Standing Committees/Conference Staff/Communications Staff 2016 Conference and ongoing

 Objective 5: Seek, nurture, and enhance campus alignment about disability

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Develop model strategies and establish rationale for inclusion of disability in ongoing campus diversity plans. Diversity standing committee/Board/Staff Spring 2016 and ongoing

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Goal 2: Support, enhance, and set the standard for professional competency related to disability within the higher education community

Objective 1:  Continuously assess the memberships’ training needs (bi-annually)

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Develop assessment tool; distribute to members; analyze results; communicate results to membership, professional development committee, staff, and AHEAD conference committee. Standing Committee on professional development/ Staff By January 1 of assessment year, bi-annually (every 2 years) ongoing

Objective 2:  Encourage professional development in various modalities based on assessment results

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Encourage proposals based on training assessment and that reflect the needs of the diverse audience represented by AHEAD members. Standing Committee on professional development/Staff/conference committee Ongoing based on conference cycle

Objective 3:  Develop training offerings in a variety of modalities

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Encourage development of training resources, including face-to-face (workshops, institutes, concurrent sessions, poster sessions, TED-style talks, etc.), webinars, streaming video, virtual conference sessions, hybrid sessions, training library. Standing Committees on professional development & Technology/Staff/conference committee Based on conference cycle, ongoing

Objective 4:  Develop training offerings on the website that reflect the needs of identified constituent groups

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Create areas on the website for training resources of particular value to the identified member groups (executives, DS professionals, other related professionals, international, and students) Standing Committees, Staff (Richard for prof dev, Jeremy for Web) 2017

Objective 5:  Poll members on areas of expertise that they are available to share with other AHEAD members

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Develop polling instrument for members on areas of expertise that they are willing to share with other AHEAD members through presentations, mentoring, document development, standing committees, etc. Staff, BOD 2019

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Goal 3:  Ensure representational organizational structure that is sustainable, highly effective, and responsive to its members

Objective 1:  Explore partners for strategic alignment 

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Identify organizations with whom to partner, based on strategic goals and objectives, and take steps to create those partnerships BOD and ED 2017
Identify countries that would welcome a developmental relationship with AHEAD, develop a demonstration model of how AHEAD could serve as an example, and evaluate the model. Responsible Party info here 2017

Objective 2:  Assess and improve organizational effectiveness

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Assess current ED and staff roles, redefine ED position to reflect overt organizational leadership, redesign staff positions to be complementary to revised ED role, update job descriptions. BOD, ED and Staff 2020
Commit Board time during each meeting to assigning policy development tasks and reviewing efforts to date. BOD 2018
Evaluate Board structure and organizational effectiveness. If the Board decides a competency structure would be beneficial, it will identify twelve to fifteen competence areas, develop a transition plan to move to the new organizational structure, alter the bylaws, and transition to the structure with the next elections. Current organizational structures, including Standing Committees will be evaluated/reevaluated under the new structure and their relevance considered. BOD, ED, Staff and Membership 2020
Designate a staff member as liaison to the Affiliates to leverage relationships, identify opportunities for mutual promotion, and coordinate programming and partnerships. BOD, ED and Affiliate 2017
Implement a competitive, comprehensive leadership-development program, including regular meetings, strategic training, mentorship, and certificate of completion. BOD, ED and Membership 2020
Establish two types of SIGS: conference discussion groups and" knowledge groups" that are funded to publish, present and engage in other Board-endorsed activities. BOD, ED and SIGS 2018

Objective 3:  Improve communication

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Convene an ad hoc committee to evaluate communication effectiveness and implement improvements, including assigning a Board member to oversee progress. BOD, ED and Membership 2018
eview all publications, websites, and presentations to encourage the use of the term "equity" and to replace "equality" with “equity.” BOD and ED 2017

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Goal 4:  Mindfully and responsibly expand the size, scope, and influence of the organization 

Objective 1:  Expand membership

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Expand outreach efforts to underrepresented types of schools to reflect standard population demographics. Member Development Standing Committee/Diversity Standing Committee/Staff 2018 Summer Board Meeting
Sustain member growth at current levels. Member Development Standing Committee/Diversity Standing Committee/Staff Targets Monitored Annually
Track organizational growth and assess ways to continue growth.
Explore shared membership and collaborate with higher education organizations (NASPA, ACPA, NACADA, SDS, ADA Coordinators, NADOHE). ED/Staff/Board if Necessary Begin 2016 and Ongoing

Objective 2: Nurture members

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Restructure the awards to better reflect the professional excellence of the members. Board/Staff Spring/ Summer 2016
Leverage awards to enhance members: develop new awards, support conference attendance of award recipients, consider monetary awards, support presentations by recipients. BOD/Member Development Standing Committee/Diversity Standing Committee/Staff Spring/ Summer 2016
Provide new and newer members additional opportunities to engage with the program activities of the organization. Professional Development Standing Committee, Conference Program Chair, Staff Spring/ Summer 2017
Increase opportunities for conference presentation through poster sessions and exploration of "AHEAD Talks" (short talks highlighting innovations, which could be captured for possible sale and distribution). Professional Development Standing Committee, Conference Program Chair, Staff Spring/Summer 2016 /Ongoing

Objective 3:  Enhance Outreach

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Develop opportunities and activities for students to participate in the organization. Professional Development Standing Committee, Conference Program Chair, Staff Ongoing
Encourage student participation through webinars and leadership forums. Professional Development Standing Committee, Staff Spring 2017
Expand outreach efforts to related organizations and agencies serving students with disabilities. Executive Director/Staff/Board if Necessary Ongoing
Target organizations/agencies for outreach (K-12 service centers, 13 national centers, VR, etc.) and develop presentations to foster relationships (consider consultation fee for training). Executive Director, Staff, Board if Necessary Ongoing
Develop and implement an effective legislative/legal response structure. Board/Standing Committees/Affiliates 2017

Objective 4:  Foster interests in the profession

Target Responsible Party Timeline
Develop a structured program for internship/externship/fellowship opportunities for students. Board/Diversity Standing Committee/Staff Spring 2017
Develop structured program for student internship/externship/fellowship (similar to NASPA) opportunities, inclusive of travel/housing funding. Board/Diversity Standing Committee/Staff Spring 2016 and Ongoing
Develop an AHEAD career placement exchange program. Professional Development Standing Committee/Staff Spring 2017
Develop "career fair," including on-site interviewing at annual conference and/or management institutes. Standing Committee/BOD/Staff Spring 2016 and Ongoing

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