2020 AHEAD Start

A Virtual Academy and Mentoring Experience
for New(er) Disability Resource Personnel

October 21-23, 2020

This event is filled to capacity and registration closed. 

For the past two years, the AHEAD Start Academy has offered a foundational experience to disability resource professionals who are just building or continuing to grow their fundamental knowledge and skills. In response to the COVID pandemic, we are transiting the Academy to a virtual experience and adding a year-long mentoring component to again offer newer professionals the opportunity to explore, discuss, and apply concepts important to building equity on college campuses. AHEAD membership through the end of the year is included.

As always, the Academy is designed to orient, refresh, and engage. This year, we will also explore how the work has changed in response to the pandemic. We’ll begin with a foundation in disability studies, social justice, and civil rights. After framing disability, we’ll cover essential legal principles, documentation considerations, the interactive process, and reasonable accommodation decision-making. We’ll consider common and emerging issues, service coordination, and outreach. Topics include:

  • Disability studies: critical analysis of disability in society and how it informs service delivery
  • Legal concepts from Section 504, the ADA, case law, and settlement agreements: the interactive process, “reasonableness,” fundamental alteration, undue burden, and direct threat
  • The interactive process: student interview, documentation, and decision-making in context
  • Accommodation design and coordination
  • Outreach and consultation: campus leadership and influence

To build community and provide opportunities for networking and group support, the October component of Academy will be synchronous. Therefore, to be fully immersed in the content, discussions, and activities, we recommend participants connect away from the daily demands of their jobs, from a home office or a private location. While we appreciate the challenge of finding that space and will record sessions for later viewing as necessary, participating in this event as though it were an in-person training will provide the most benefit. Please review the Academy schedule to block your schedule now.

During the Academy week in October, participants will be paired with a small cohort group lead by a long-term AHEAD member mentor. The week’s schedule will include significant opportunities for engagement with the group mentor and peers to establish relationships that will provide connections and support over the course of the next year in monthly presentations, discussions, and Q&A sessions.

If you are in your first three years of higher education / disability resource work, have gaps in your knowledge that a review of foundational concepts would help to fill, or are interested in a sustained cohort/mentoring opportunity, this training/mentoring program may be exactly what you’re looking for. Unlike many other forms of distant education, the AHEAD Start Academy will prioritize the opportunity to engage with national experts, seasoned service professionals, and colleagues to develop essential skills and a professional network, the most valuable professional development tool available. Whether you work alone, with a large staff, or address disability as one component of a larger role, join us for this comprehensive introduction to a dynamic field. 

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Wednesday-Friday, October 21-23, 2020

We will engage throughout the day in synchronous learning via Zoom. Because time zones vary, participants should plan to be involved with the Academy activities for approximately 6 hours/day between the hours of 8:30-5:00. An hour-long lunch break and two 30-minute breaks will be incorporated to let you step away from the computer. However, participants will benefit the most if they dedicate these three days to the Academy and separate themselves from their daily work during this time.

Follow-up Sessions & Cohort/Mentor Meetings:

Between October 2020 and September of 2021, asynchronous viewing of topical trainings will be offered to all participants, followed by synchronous mentor/cohort debrief/processing meetings. Topics will include assistive technologies, service and emotional support animals, note-taking coordination, accommodated testing, attendance modification and extended assignment deadlines, communicating with faculty, and access issues acerbated by the pandemic.

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AHEAD Start Academy Pricing

Registration on or before September 15, 2020

  • AHEAD members: $300 
  • Non-AHEAD members: $400 


Registration after September 15, 2020

  • AHEAD members: $375 
  • Non-AHEAD members: $475

Refund Policy

Registration canceled before September 20 will incur a $75 charge. No refunds are available after September 20.

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Richard "RJ" Kilgore
Richard “RJ” Kilgore is an Assistant Director and Counselor for the Office of Disability Services at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He began his career with North Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Agency and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate. RJ has worked with high school and college students with disabilities and presented at conferences on the local, state, and national level. Most recently, he presented on collaborative efforts with campus partners to promote access during COVID for AHEAD’s virtual conference. RJ serves as Treasurer of the NCAHEAD Board of Directors. Throughout his career, RJ has dedicated intentional effort towards social justice, serving as Chair of the UNCW Student Affairs Diversity Committee and a member of the UNCW Black Faculty and Staff Association. He is currently working with colleagues from Cornell University, University of Chicago, and Valparaiso University on a call to action paper focusing on Blackness and Intersectionality with Disability.

Sue Kroeger
Sue Kroeger, Ed.D. is currently Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies at the University of Arizona, where she teaches disability studies, coordinates an undergraduate program in rehabilitation, and advises students. Sue was the Director of Disability Resources and ADA Coordinator at the University of Arizona for 18 years and Director of Disability Services at the University of Minnesota for 15 years. Under her leadership, both institutions became national leaders in disability services. She managed staffs of 32+ full and part-time employees that, guided by a social model of disability and principles of universal design, provided services to faculty, staff, and students with disabilities, offered competitive athletic opportunities, assisted the University in meeting its legal obligations, and provided consultation and education on designing inclusive learning and working environments. In addition to her administrative duties, Sue has presented at numerous national and international conferences, published articles on disability and higher education, and co-edited a book entitled, "Responding to Disability Issues in Student Affairs." She has served as principal investigator for numerous federal grants, is a Past President of AHEAD, and remains a sought-after consultant for her wisdom and vision.

L.Scott Lissner
L. Scott Lissner is the Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator and 504 Compliance Officer for The Ohio State University, where he is also an Associate of the John Glenn School of Public Policy and serves as a lecturer for the Moritz College of Law, the Knowlton School of Architecture and Disability Studies. Engaged in community and professional service, Lissner is a past President and Public Policy Chair of AHEAD and serves on the Board of Directors for The Center for Disability Empowerment, VSA Ohio, and the Editorial Board for Thompson’s ADA Compliance Guide. Lissner has been appointed to the Columbus Advisory Committee on Disability Issues, Ohio’s Help America Vote Act Committee, and the Ohio Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities. Recent presentations include the National Association of Disabilities Providers (UK), a technical assistance tour to Indonesia sponsored by the Department of State, sessions at the Association on Higher Education and Disability, the National Association of College and University Attorneys, The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and workshops on building accommodation processes at the Universities of Tokyo and Doshisha in Japan.

Adam Meyer, Ph.D.

Adam Meyer, Ph.D. is the Director of the Student Accessibility Services office and of Inclusive Education Services at the University of Central Florida. He was previously the Director of disability resource offices at Eastern Michigan University and Saint Louis University. Adam has served on the AHEAD) Board of Directors and on AHEAD Standing Committees. He presents regularly on documentation, the social model of disability. leadership, and office operations, initial student interviews, office data, and budgetary basics. Adam worked in the intellectual disability field for nearly 10 years prior to working in higher education.

Chris Stone

Chris Stone, Ed.D. is Director of Disability Resources at Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to that, Chris worked as a Learning Specialist, Assistant Director, and then Director at the Disability Resource Center at University of North Carolina Wilmington. Currently a member of AHEAD’s Board of Directors, Chris previously served as Treasurer and President of NCAHEAD (AHEAD’s North Carolina affiliate). He was the Co-Chair of Programs for AHEAD’s 2016 International Conference and an advisor to AHEAD’s work to revise its campus assessment tools. Along with his AHEAD involvement, Chris served as Chair of Sponsored Programs for ACPA’s Coalition on Disability. Most recently, he has presented on managing during crisis and disaster situations, intersectional approaches to supporting students in collaboration with Title IX, and disability resource’s role in university behavior intervention teams. Chris often speaks on topics of inclusion and involvement of diverse populations, the metacognitive development of students, legal aspects of disability in higher education, and best practices for supporting disabled students. In January 2020, Chris was a keynote speaker and featured presenter at the inaugural Inclusion School 2020 conference held in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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