2020 AHEAD Award Winners Announced!

By AHEAD posted 05-22-2020 03:20:39 PM

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the AHEAD Board of Directors, I am writing to announce and congratulate the 2020 AHEAD Award winners! Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate a colleague and celebrate their many contributions to AHEAD and to the field!

Here is a bit about each award recipient:

Ronald E. Blosser Dedicated Service Award

Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University, and,
Dr. Kristie Orr, Texas A&M University

Jamie Axelrod is immediate past President of the AHEAD Board of Directors and longtime director at Northern Arizona University. Jamie’s nomination highlights his service to AHEAD through teaching, leadership and mentorship. Jamie has instructed many classes and workshops on disability law, engaging hundreds of participants over the years on how to effectively interpret the ADA. His leadership and commitment to mentorship is evidenced not only by his service on the Board but in his consistent support of colleagues via the online communities and personal relationships.

Dr. Kristie Orr serves as our current Board Presidents and director at Texas A&M University. Kristie’s nomination highlights her leadership nationally and internationally. In addition to her Board service, Kristie developed a relationship between AHEAD and FARE and helped to recognize food allergies in the disability context. Recently, she helped formalize AHEAD’s relationship with the Global University Disability and Inclusion Network, elevating AHEAD’s presence internationally. Kristie also supports individual colleagues at her institution and across AHEAD in their understanding of disability resources.

Both Jamie and Kristie are incredibly deserving of the Blosser Award, AHEAD’s highest honor. They both work tirelessly with AHEAD, AHEAD affiliates and with individual colleagues to promote good practice and progressive thinking on disability access.

AHEAD Honor for Meritorious Contribution: Andrew Zeisler, Miami University

Andrew recently retired from Miami University where he worked for 32 years. His contributions made a profound impact on campus and more broadly on the Disability Resources profession. During his tenure at Miami University, Andrew promoted an inclusive campus climate, created infrastructure to support accessible technology, established a disability cultural space, and mentored new professionals.

Duraese Hall Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award: Dr. Mary Lee Vance, California State University Sacramento

Mary Lee is longtime leader within AHEAD and worked to initiate the Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Disability (REDD), now, Knowledge and Practice Community. She has supported diversity in AHEAD membership and mentored and encouraged many professionals of color toward leadership roles in the organization.

AHEAD Professional Recognition Award: Dr. Michelle Rigler, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga

Michelle was nominated specifically for the innovative ways she promotes the inclusion of students on the spectrum and ensures their equitable experiences inside and outside the classroom, including opportunities to study abroad. She is known for her work with Mobility international USA and developed a course on international perspectives on disability. Michelle is director at UT Chattanooga where she is committed to mentoring students and colleagues.

Student Recognition Award: Heather Schmoll, California State University Long Beach

Heather is an undergraduate student at Cal State Long Beach majoring in Speech and Language Pathology and minoring in Sign Language Linguistics and Deaf Culture. Heather promotes disability community and access on campus, locally and nationally. On campus, Heather serves as Commission for Disability Affairs and advocated for resources to increase access and inclusion. Heather serves on the CSU Systemwide Advisory Committee on Services to Students with Disabilities where she represents the interests of disabled students across the CSU system.

Please join me in congratulating our 2020 AHEAD award recipients! We will recognize each award winner during our virtual business meeting (July 7, 12:30-1:30 Pacific / 3:30-4:30 Eastern) as well as online and via social media.

Amanda Kraus, Ph. D.
AHEAD President-Elect
The University of Arizona