President's Corner for February 2016

Welcome back to a new academic term and Happy 2016 to one and to all! I also want to welcome you to our new online publication, The HUB! This replaces our former newsletter, ALERT. We want to make it relevant to our membership and give opportunities for us to learn more about some of our members while we have opportunities to share the many wonderful things we do on our campuses. With that, please consider sharing your learning and contribute to the body of knowledge. Please let Valerie Spears ( know if you have something to contribute. In addition to initiating the call to share the wonderful things happening in your office, town, city, state, or region, the President might contact you just to feature you in our “Meet a Member” section. This will be a quick interview for a very short write-up about you. In this issue, our “Meet a Member” sections features one of our colleague, Leila McKinney.

This is also a time when we are asked to renew our commitment to our organization. I encourage you to seek allies on your campus (ADA Coordinators, Legal Counsel, Athletics, etc.) to join for institutional membership. Of all professional membership organizations in higher education, AHEAD is still one of the best deals around with many benefits. Remember that our membership runs with the calendar year of January to December. If you are unsure of the status of your membership, Jane Johnson ( at the AHEAD office can provide you with any information about your membership status. In case you need to share the amazing benefits that come with the membership, refer to our website at Thank you for your continued commitment and support of our organization.

Lots going on right now with our organization and I’ll just like to highlight or remind you about just a few of them:

Good news!
It is always good to begin with good news. Though not completely new as it was already shared in Stephan and my letter to the members in October, but I feel it is worth mentioning again. Under the leadership of our great executive director, Stephan Smith and one of our great members, Wendy Harbour, AHEAD received a grant of $2.4m dollars over four years to develop a technical assistance center for professionals like us and the students we serve: The National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD). This is a great accomplishment because this is the first grant in more than 10 years that AHEAD ventured into and we received it! Many AHEAD staff and some of our members worked very hard to ensure we had great proposal and we thank them. As a result, we have expanded our staff pool so we can deliver what we promised and we are well on our way to do just that. Something we all have hoped for in a long time but has been hard to reach is data. Among other activities, NCCSD will collect and share robust data about postsecondary institutions and students with disabilities. As we promised in the letter in October, you will be kept appraised of the activities of the Center and its work.

Annual Conference
Every other year, we partner with our good friends in access, pepnet2. This summer they will join us at the 2016 Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana to present their Postsecondary Training Institute (PTI). One of the most exciting moments in my presidency is working with committed and talented colleagues and staff to organize the program for the annual conference. This upcoming conference in Indianapolis is no exception. I am thrilled by this year’s conference; thanks to the work and collaboration among Jill, Chris, Robert, Richard, Valerie, and Carol. I can assure you that you are in for a treat this year. Jill Sieben-Schneider (University of Colorado, Boulder) and Chris Stone (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), our Conference Program Co-Chairs started working since our last conference in St. Paul and the work continues. Robert Plienis (Ball State University), our local chair, has also been at work lining up activities for us in Indianapolis; he is doing everything possible to ensure that our time in Indianapolis is filled fun and great learning.

Strategic Plan Document
The document is ready and released. If you have not seen or read it, please go to our website at Remember that this is a living document so please read it and provide feedback. The Board wants it to relevant and useful so it can guide our work and our direction so please give us feedback.

That time will soon be upon us; in the next few weeks, you will be once again be called upon to share your leadership skills, talents, and abilities with our organization. Any great organization is made up of people, committed people willing to stand up to be involved, engaged, and contribute. Please consider running for an office or you can nominate or encourage someone to do so. Remember that your membership must be active before you can run for an office and before you can vote.

To each member, I like to express my sincere and heartfelt appreciation. I appreciate your confidence in and support for AHEAD and the direction we are heading. As I have said before, I will say it again, this is your organization so please make it better than yesteryears and better than it was when you joined. If you have skills and talents you want to contribute, please join us and let’s work together.

And till next time, “may the wind always be on your back and the sun upon your face and may the winds of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars” (Johnny Depp).