Name: Elisa Velardo, MMHS, FAAIDD
Location: Tolland, CT
Member since: 1994
Employment: State of CT, Department of Developmental Disabilities
Why did you join AAIDD? I was encouraged to join AAIDD by Dr. Marty Krauss when I was a graduate student at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis. The annual meeting was held in Boston that year and I had the opportunity to speak with leaders in the field and found them to be enthusiastic and welcoming to me as an early career professional. Over the past 24 years, AAIDD has offered the opportunity to connect with and learn from amazing people at the state, regional and national level. I am inspired by their passion, vision, and commitment to people with I/DD.
Why did you choose the field of intellectual disability? In high school I volunteered with Special Olympics and truly enjoyed the experience. Then, as an undergraduate majoring in Psychology, I had the opportunity to participate in a program that connected college students with individuals who lived at Mansfield State Training School. The idea was that the college students would tutor the individuals who lived at Mansfield. It was soon apparent that I had much more to learn from them. I was inspired by their resilience and willingness to share their life stories. As Mansfield was ordered by consent decree to close, I had the opportunity to support some of these individuals to lead rich, satisfying lives in the community. It has been my passion and my honor to work with individuals and their families over the past 30 years.
AAIDD leadership positions: 2017 Co-Chair Local Arrangements Committee, 2017 Chair of Awards and Fellowship Committee, Immediate President Region X 2017, President Region X 2014-2016, Vice President Region X 2012-2014, President, CT Board 2011-2013. I have served on the National Assembly of Geographic Interests since 2010.