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Leadership in IDD
May 2021


Leadership in IDD

         May 2021


Commentary from the field

Maximizing Quality of Life Through Investment in the Workforce of the Future 
Elisa F. Velardo, MMHS, FAAIDD

As a former nonprofit Executive Director and a current Regional Director in the public sector, I have long been interested in research and data on workforce recruitment and retention.  My graduate thesis included an analysis of emerging evidence-based practices to attract and promote a skilled workforce. Now, over 25 years later, we are projecting demographic changes over the next decade that will require radical shifts in our recruitment and retention strategies to assure ongoing quality supports for people with IDD.

As baby boomers age and ultimately retire, not only will the US labor force diminish in size, but we will see increased recruitment competition for healthcare, leadership, direct support, and in-home support professionals. We will increasingly require technology and remote aids to supplement in-person supports to maximize independence and full inclusion. To retain a skilled direct support workforce, increased professionalization in terms of credentialing, status, and compensation will be necessary. Finally, as services shift from congregate to individualized supports, we need to expand our networks to maximize the use of benefits and amenities that are available to all people in their communities. 

I urge you to register for AAIDD’s Annual Conference, Addressing Workforce Challenges: Promising Trends in Policy, Practice, and Research. Thought leaders will share the most current research, emerging practices, and public policies that may shape and support the future workforce in our field. See you there!

Promoting Health for Individuals with IDD by Addressing Stigma
Emily Hotez, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine

Stigma—negative attitudes and beliefs based on distinguishing characteristics assumed to be disadvantageous—against individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) manifests in implicit and explicit ways and is a significant public health threat to this population. My experiences as both a developmental psychologist and a sister of an autistic adult have underscored that stigma is pervasive and directly and indirectly leads to adverse physical and mental health outcomes for individuals with IDD, including heightened stress and anxiety, cardiovascular reactivity, and substance use.

Earlier this year, in a commentary in EClinicalMedicine and an opinion for the Association for Psychological Science, I discussed how stigma most recently surfaced in the initial exclusion of individuals with IDD from the COVID-19 priority vaccination guidelines, despite an IDD diagnosis being one of the strongest independent risk factors for contracting and dying from COVID-19. Given this, it is readily apparent that now, more than ever, we need to redesign existing approaches to education, health care, and research to address stigma. I look forward to discussing how we can accomplish this in my keynote for the upcoming Reinventing Quality Conference where I will unpack the effects of stigma on health and provide specific, actionable, and research-based recommendations to prevent health disparities for the IDD population in the future.

Member Spotlight

Chun-Yu (Caya) Chiu, PhD,  FAAIDD
Assistant Professor in Special Education at the National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan

Member since 2010

Why did you join AAIDD?

I wanted to be part of the community contributing to a brighter future for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and professionals.  

Why did you choose the field of intellectual disability?
I am a special educator by schooling, a social scientist by profession, and a family member of an individual with intellectual disability by relation. It just makes sense for me to invest time and effort learning and studying in the field. My own experiences inspire me, and my trainings further fuel my passion to research and advocate for families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Recent awards, accolades, appointments, and other honors

Leonard Abbeduto, Erik Carter, Elizabeth Dykens, Tamar Heller, Laura Lee McIntyre, Robert Schalock, Karrie Shogren, Miguel Verdugo, and Michael Wehmeyer listed among the top 100,000 scientists in the world across all fields according to a composite citation index, placing them in the 2% most influential scientists in their fields. Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators (

The 2021 AAIDD Awards Ceremony broadcast on AAIDD’s Youtube channel on June 22, 2021  from 6-7:30 pm eastern, and open for all to attend. At the ceremony:

John Agosta, Evan Dean, Kristin Dell’Armo, Celia Feinstein, Marian Frattarola-Saulino, Peg Gould, Richard Hastings, Ruth Luckasson, Laura Lee McIntyre, MaryAnn Romski, Robert Schalock, LaRon Scott, Marc Tasse, Colleen Thoma, and Angela John Thurman are among those being recognized with AAIDD Awards.

Evan Dean, Laura Gómez, Julie Grieves, Dorothy Hiersteiner, Bruce Keisling, Donald Miller, Anthony Rodriguez, Hilda Trahan, Elizabeth Kurfiss Watts, Kendra Williams-Diehm, and Heather Williamson will be recognized as Fellows of the AAIDD.


Opportunities to participate in research, projects, policy development, and other collaborations

ACL Seeks Grant Reviewers for Scaling Network Lead Entities Program

ACL’s Office of Network Advancement is seeking reviewers for the upcoming No Wrong Door Community Infrastructure Grants: Scaling Network Lead Entities grant review.

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