Optimize Your Office – Simple Ways to Boost Efficiency and Effectiveness

About This Webinar Series

A Five Part AHEAD Webinar Series

AHEAD has been hearing from many members that their offices are understaffed, they are not getting the resources they request from their schools, and they worry that students are being negatively impacted and staff are getting burnt out. This webinar series offers practical ways for disability office staff to pause and take a step back to evaluate their existing office practices and data. This series will address how:

  • Policies and procedures can be streamlined to reduce the amount of staff time spent on things like paperwork or unnecessary back-and-forth;
  • Barriers for students can be reduced or eliminated;
  • Recordkeeping and communications about accommodations can be made more efficient;
  • Delegating to student workers or leveraging campus partnerships can reduce the burden on disability office staff;
  • Data can offer opportunities to make a case for more resources for your office.

No matter your office size—from one-person offices to huge operations, there are ways that you can maximize staff efforts and minimize burnout, all with the goal of improving student experiences. Join these seasoned disability professionals to hear how they saw improvements in their own offices by making small changes that had big impacts.

Unlike its other professional development offerings, AHEAD allows you to purchase one webinar subscription to share within a whole office, making them a valuable staff investment. Information about how to share the login within your institution is provided with your paid registration. You may view them live or watch recordings later, making the AHEAD webinars a flexible, low-cost, high impact professional development opportunity!

All webinars are hosted in the Zoom webinar platform and will have real time captioning available. ASL interpreters will be provided for all webinars.


Identifying Policies and Practices that Perpetuate Ableism and Generating Ideas for Change

Thursday, October 20, 3-4:30 pm Eastern

Susan Mann Dolce, University of Buffalo
Rosemary Kreston, Colorado State University, Retired
Elizabeth (liz) Anh Thomson, University of Minnesota, Morris
Cathie Axe, Johns Hopkins University

Many disability offices have ableism lurking in their policies and procedures and don’t even realize it. Identifying and updating those will make your office significantly more welcoming and supportive for disabled students. This webinar will begin with an exploration of subtle ableism and what it looks like in higher ed, change theory, and models of supporting disabled students in higher education. The presenters will then each discuss a situation in their higher education professional experiences where ableism was a factor, how policy and practices were involved, and how they were able to make small changes that made an enormous difference for the experience of disabled students. The discussion will be guided by the Refocus 2.0 Disability Professionals Toolkit.


Raise Your Office Profile and Get What You Need Using Data and Other Tips

This webinar will be postponed until 2023. All purchases of this webinar will be honored when it is rescheduled. Once rescheduled, it will be recorded and made available to all registrants. We appreciate your understanding.

Chester Goad, EdD Tennessee Tech University
Ed Beason, PhD Tennessee Tech University

Have you wondered how you can make your office more visible to the “powers that be” at your university, to increase the resources you need for the students you serve? The answer may be the data you are already collecting! This webinar will provide practical tips on how to use the data you have to promote your programs, secure additional funding and more. The dynamic presenters will also cover how to increase your visibility and take your office to the next level. Data collection doesn’t have to be dreary—it can be your best friend! Plenty of time will be reserved for Q&A.


Writing Accommodations That are Clear and Intentional

Tuesday, November 8, 3:30-5 Eastern

Paul Harwell, Dartmouth College
Mandie Griewe, Marian University

Writing the language for the way that disability accommodations are described in accommodations notifications to faculty is part art and part science. There is no one right way to do this, but there is certainly wording that can cause confusion or worse. When taking on a new role, some disability professionals find they have “inherited” unclear or loose descriptions. Other schools realize when implementing a new database system (AIM, Clockwork, Symplicity, etc.) that they must streamline existing descriptions or draft entirely new ones, and don’t know exactly where to start. The presenters, who have rewritten accommodation language at multiple schools over their careers, will offer a very straightforward “how to,” with issues to consider and some sample language to help ensure that accommodations are described in a clear and uniform manner. It will discuss the importance of individual institutional culture and historical context when crafting the language, so that faculty know as soon as they receive the notification what they need to implement for a student and how, thus smoothing the student’s experience, and reducing the burden on the disability office to engage in further clarification conversations. Takeaways will include basic principles for creating language, nuances and complexities to the language used, the uniqueness of clinical requests, getting the most buy in and output of institutional change, and the role different data systems play.


Re-evaluating Office Processes to Enhance Efficiency and Remove Barriers: Do We Really Need to Meet with Them All?

Wednesday, November 9, 3-4:30 Eastern

Maranda Maxey, Appalachian State University
Mark Newmiller, North Carolina State University

Many institutions are experiencing significant increases in the number and complexity of accommodation requests, while staff sizes remain the same. Relying on established processes and procedures is causing many Disability Resources offices to become overwhelmed, while students are waiting longer and longer to receive equal access and opportunity. Attendees will hear the reflections of two institutions that challenged the thought process behind their established office processes and created a more efficient office environment while removing barriers to accessing approved accommodations. The presenters will describe how they learned how to look at the interactive process differently through honestly assessing their processes and identifying opportunities to remove barriers and improve student service, without compromising individualization of accommodations.

Practical, Sustainable Practices to Help Manage Work Intensity

Thursday, November 10, 2-4pm Eastern

We regret that we will need to reschedule the webinar scheduled for Thursday, November 10, “Sustainable Practices to Help Manage Work Intensity” due to the incoming tropical storm (and potential hurricane) Nicole. One of the presenters cannot participate at that time due to anticipated storm-related power outages.

New date and time: Thursday, December 1, 2-4  pm Eastern

This webinar will be recorded, so if you are not able to attend at the new time, you may view it at a later time.

AHEAD wishes safety to everyone in the path of the storm. We thank you for your understanding, and hope you enjoy this and all of the webinars in the series!

Adam Meyer, University of Central Florida
Jen Dugger Spalding, Portland State University
Crystal Hill, Texas Woman's University

Does your office feel understaffed and overloaded? One of the most unique aspects of working in a disability resource office is that disability professionals engage with almost every facet of the campus community as we strive for greater institutional accessibility and inclusion. But the breadth of our reach can pose challenges, as the variety and sheer number of interactions can strain us mentally and emotionally. This session will explore practical strategies you can implement right away to reign in the work intensity through a straight-forward focus, greater internal efficiency, and effective campus outreach. 

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Registration Information and Costs

Entire Series (All Five Sessions)

  • Member Price: $249
  • Non-Member Price: $349

Individual Sessions

  • Member Price: $79
  • Non-Member Price $129

AHEAD’s webinar registration system automatically sends an email receipt and individual emails for each webinar you select. Webinar-specific email messages include the Zoom link for the webinar and an option to add the session to your calendar. You will also receive reminder emails a few days before each webinar. 

AHEAD does not offer refunds on webinar purchases because complete recordings are available to watch at your convenience in the case of a scheduling conflict.  

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AHEAD does not pre-arrange for CEUs with any certifying bodies for its webinars, but we are happy to provide proof of attendance. If you plan to use a webinar for CEU credit, contact your certifying agency to learn what information is necessary for you to request independent CEUs. Contact AHEAD at profdev@ahead.org if you need any programming or presenter information that is not available on AHEAD’s website. To request a certificate of attendance, please contact ahead@ahead.org.

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Cathie Axe

Cathie Axe is the Executive Director of Johns Hopkins’ Student Disability Services. She is responsible for overseeing and developing disability services across the university to increase accessibility and inclusion. With over 30 years of higher education experience, and 27 of those years managing disability services at a variety of institutions, she has had the opportunity to actively engage in the evolution of services and perspectives around disability, accessibility and inclusion. Cathie received her Master’s in Education with a focus on Counseling and Development at George Mason University where she also got her start in disability services. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Brown University in Economics. Her work in disability services has spanned a variety of institutions including Northern Virginia Community College and American University where served as an LD/ADHD specialist. Her most recent role was as Associate Dean and Director of Accessibility Services at Brown University where she spent almost 16 years.


Ed Beason

Ed Beason, Ph.D. is a former TNAHEAD President, and has presented at AHEAD Pre-conferences and at Accessing Higher Ground. He currently works for Tennessee Tech University’s Accessible Education Center. 

Susan (Sue) Mann Dolce

Susan (Sue) Mann Dolce is an Associate Director of the UB Accessibility Resources office. Sue’s Ph.D. is in Rehabilitation Science and her clinical background is in Occupational Therapy, both which support the Participation Consultation Model she developed and uses in her work with UB students with disabilities. As Co-chair of the AHEAD Disability Studies Special Interest Group (DSSIG) at AHEAD since 2010, and now part of the Leadership Team of the Disability Identity Studies and Culture (DISC) Knowledge and Practice Community (KPC), which emerged from the DSSIG, Sue is committed to working from a Disability Justice Transformational Model and working with others to facilitate change in day to day professional life. Her research and program evaluation interests include participation, disability studies, collaborative programming, and universal design and programming, including Universal Design Yoga, which she started at UB in 2009. Universal Design Yoga was a recipient of a 2014 SUNY award in student programming. Sue has been practicing yoga and meditation for over 40 years and is a registered yoga teacher through the Yoga Alliance (RYT) and certified through the International Association of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT).


Chester Goad

Chester Goad, Ph.D. is President-Elect for AHEAD and has presented for AHEAD pre-conferences and AHEAD sessions and panels. Director of the Accessible Education Center at Tennessee Tech University, a 4 year public institution, Chester is also a JPED reviewer and AHEAD Start mentor.


Mandie Griewe

Mandie Griewe joined the Marian University community as the founding director of the Personalized Learning Center in July of 2021. Prior to becoming a Marian Knight, she has had the opportunity to work within disability offices at Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame, and Emory University over the last 10 years. Mandie enjoys having conversations with faculty, staff and students around accessibility being a shared responsibility and is working diligently to ensure that Marian University is a place where access is at the forefront. Over the last year Mandie has worked hard to support change within the campus culture, through building relationships, updating language and processes, writing policy, and getting buy-in from campus faculty, staff, and students alike.


Adam Meyer

Paul Harwell is currently the Associate Director of ADA/504 Compliance in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity at Dartmouth. Paul is nationally recognized for his work in higher education and disability. His work is grounded in the principles of civil rights and barrier removal being shared responsibilities across institutions. A 16-year higher education and disability resource professional, Paul has extensive experience supporting students, faculty, staff and public access and accommodation. He is passionate about supporting the development and growth of others and serves as a mentor to colleagues and students at Dartmouth and around the country. Currently, Paul is responsible for leadership on campus-wide disability access via policies, procedures, and training. Paul is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education Administration at Texas A&M University, with a focus on higher ed law, policy, and finance. His dissertation topic is about university faculty experiences teaching students with disabilities.


Crystal Hill
Dr. Crystal Hill is the Director of TWU's Disability Services. Prior to joining TWU, Crystal served as Director of the Disability Resource Center at The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) for 18 years. Crystal holds a B.A. in Psychology, an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy with a Higher Education Specialization from the University of Arkansas. Crystal is co-founder of College Bound Arkansas, a post-secondary transition camp for disabled students. Crystal is currently serving as Director-at-Large on the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) board of Directors, and formerly chaired AHEAD’s Race, Ethnicity, Diversity, and Disability K&P. Crystal has served as an adjunct instructor within the Psychology Department of the University of Central Arkansas, where she taught general psychology.


Rosemary (Rose) Kreston

Rosemary (Rose) Kreston retired from Colorado State University in 2020 after 40 years as the director of the Student Disability Center (formerly Resources for Disabled Students). In that position, she saw the office develop from a two-person office (director; administrative assistant) to one that employed 10 professionals, 32 student staff, and 20 auxiliary staff. Rose has a M.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling and is currently (trying) to complete her Ph.D. in Sociology. Rose identifies as a disabled person and she began her career at a time when documentation was not a requirement for students to receive support in gaining access in higher education. She has always approached her work as a partner with faculty and staff to ensure students with disabilities had access to all programs in which they wanted to participate. Rose has done extensive reading in Disability Studies which has given her a deeper understanding of Ableism and continues to recognize her own culpability in inadvertently being an ableist at times. While she has always been a member of the AHEAD Disability Identity, Studies and Culture (DISC) Knowledge and Practice Community (KPC), she has recently taken on a greater leadership role for this Community. 


Maranda Maxey

Maranda Maxey is Director for the Office of Disability Resources and the University's ADA /504 Coordinator at Appalachian State University. Maranda has nearly 20 years experience working within the field of disability resources and compliance. Maranda is a member of the National ADA Coordinators Association, the Association for Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and is heavily involved in North Carolina’s AHEAD affiliate where she has served on the Board of Directors for 8 years. Maranda consults with various constituencies including other universities and law firms on the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically Title I and Title II along with process evaluation for efficiencies.


Adam Meyer

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.


Mark Newmiller
Mark Newmiller, Director of the Disability Resource Office, joined the DRO team in January 2003. A native of central New York, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from LeMoyne College, and a Master of Science degree in Special Education from the College of St. Rose. Mark has more than 25 years of professional experience working with students with disabilities. Throughout his career he has been responsible for teaching, evaluating, and determining the eligibility for services of students in a range of disability areas.  


Jen Dugger Spalding

Jen Dugger Spalding is the Director of the Disability Resource Center at Portland State University and has been in the field of disability resources and services for more than fifteen years. Jen has worked at PSU since 2012. Jen recently came off of a four-year stint with the board of AHEAD where she served three years as a Director at Large and then one year as the board’s Equity Officer. Jen also served 12 years as co-chair of the LGBTQA Knowledge and Practice Community for AHEAD. Jen proudly served four years on the board of the ACLU of Oregon (2014-2018) as well. Jen says that one of the best parts of her job is working with disability services professionals to find creative solutions to address the latent ableism within the field. As a white, cisgender, queer woman who does not identify as having a disability or being disabled, Jen (she/her) understands the gravity of leveraging power and privilege for those experiencing more barriers.


Elizabeth (liz) Anh Thomson

Elizabeth (liz) Anh Thomson (they/them), PhD, is Director at the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Intercultural Programs and Asst. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Minneota Morris. They identify as disabled, queer, and a Vietnamese adoptee. They have been working in higher education for nearly 25 years teaching and organizing co-curricular programs. Liz has served as an adjunct instructor in Asian American Studies and Women's Studies, guest lecturer in Disabilities and Human Development, and an academic support course instructor. Their experience includes facilitating programs using dialogue methods; organizing large, campus wide diversity and inclusion programs and events; and working relationships centered in collaboration and community building. Liz recently earned their PhD in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Their academic research is exploring the new phenomenon of disability cultural centers in U.S. higher education. They hold an M.A. in Women and Gender Studies from Roosevelt University and a B.A. in German and Sociology/Anthropology from Lake Forest College.


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