AUCD Leadership Academy

The Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) and the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) are proud to present the
June 21-25, 2021

We recognize that travel and in-person gatherings for events is still not safe. With the success of our 2020 virtual Leadership Academy, we have chosen to continue and build upon that format for 2021.

We were also influenced by the many lessons in meeting, teaching, and learning in virtual spaces over the last year. We know this year’s Leadership Academy is not the same experience as an in-person event, but we are confident that it will be equally meaningful and engaging.

Some of the changes we are planning involve increasing the number of pre-Academy webinars, asking you to do additional preparatory work on your own, and shortening the time of our Academy days. What will remain the same is our commitment to each of you in the cohort and to your growth toward leadership.

WHAT is the AUCD Leadership Academy?

The 2021 AUCD Leadership Academy will be an intensive learning experience that includes webinars, a one-week-long online intensive, and a year of follow up activities. The academy content is designed to enhance the skills of current and emerging leaders from the disability network to build coalitions that improve systems of supports and services. The academy seeks participants from UCEDDs, LENDs, and partners in the larger disability network to come together to immerse themselves for shared experiences, self-evaluation, and skill development. Participants engage with the other members of their cohort, academy faculty, local coaches, and national allies during the year following the experience. The academy focuses on the exploration of shared values and commitments to civil and human rights, assessments of personal and leadership strengths, skills in building partnerships to achieve collective impact, and establishing personal and professional leadership goals.

WHEN will the AUCD Leadership Academy take place?

Six (6) webinars will be hosted prior to the beginning of the one-week online intensive experience. Webinars are designed to introduce key themes for leadership and create a learning community of academy participants and faculty. These webinars will take place from 3:30 pm-5:00 pm (EST) on the following Thursdays:

  • April 1, 2021
  • April 15, 2021
  • April 29, 2021
  • May 13, 2021
  • May 27, 2021
  • June 10, 2021

The dates for the online intensive for 2021 will be Monday, June 21st through Friday, June 25th. The online intensive will meet via Zoom from 11:30 pm through 5:00 pm (EST) and will include multiple breaks. (Each day will begin with an optional opportunity for mindfulness/meditation at 11:00 am (EST)

The time together will be a mix of large group/small group interactions along with some time for individual reflection. We are excited about the range of opportunities the pandemic has invited us to adapt and create. We hope that after you finish reading this note you will be excited too and a little bit curious about what we are proposing.

WHERE will the AUCD Leadership Academy intensive be located?

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 AUCD Leadership Academy will be held virtually as a series of webinars, videos, and online meetings.

HOW much does the AUCD Leadership Academy cost?

The $250 participation fee includes a year of virtual leadership activities: six pre-webinars, five half-days of web meetings, Ally Circle calls, and individualized coaching sessions.

WHO should apply?

The academy seeks participants from UCEDDs, LENDs, and their partner organizations. Past participants have included representatives from all levels in their organizations, particularly individuals who are considering taking on new roles in their organizations. We strongly encourage individuals with disabilities, including intellectual and developmental disabilities, to apply.

ONLINE Application

PAPER Application

Accommodations and Support

To ensure equal opportunity and access to the AUCD Leadership Academy, we will provide reasonable auxiliary aids, services, language translation, and alternative formats to applicants and trainees. Please send an email to or call (404) 413-9574 or fax (404) 413-1012.

Final application deadline: March 1, 2021; Decisions will be made by March 15, 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has required resilience and innovation for all of us, presenting its own set of unprecedented leadership challenges. We hope that the 2021 AUCD Leadership Academy experience will provide a time to reflect on what we’ve learned and how we will continue to adapt to future challenges.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can answer questions.



Courage and Renewal (Courage to Lead)

Courage to Lead comes from the Center for Courage and Renewal, which was founded by Parker Palmer. It is a framework for groups that is designed to facilitate self-reflection and connection for the purpose of building leadership. The training will also support participants’ resilience and integrity to sustain their commitment to solving complex social issues and also create a community of leaders and advocates that recognizes and honors differences and diversity.

History of Disability and Civil Rights

Trainees will learn about the history of disability and other civil rights movements. The trainees will participate in presentations on the evolution of disability policy and learn about current issues in national policy and implications for states. Facilitated discussions will center on topics such as advocacy, independent living, and the Disability Rights movement today. Throughout the week, trainees will have an opportunity to tour historical sites such as the National Center for Human Rights, Martin Luther King Jr. Center, the Carter Center, and much more to learn more about the history of disability and civil rights.

Building Partnerships and Collective Impact

Trainees will participate in experiences designed to increase their knowledge and skills related to forming and maintaining successful partnerships that feature alliances across organizations and perspectives. Trainees will be exposed to Collective Impact, a model that is used to help people and organizations come together to solve complex social problems.

Self-Awareness and Leadership

Trainees will reflect on their personal commitments and style of leadership. Trainees will also complete strengths assessments which will be processed during the in-person training and utilized in the development of personal leadership goals.

Participants are expected to participate in a variety of learning opportunities:

  • Short readings designed to orient trainees to core concepts prior to the in-person training
  • Webinars occurring before and after the in-person training
  • Strengths assessment activities
  • Visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Leadership Coaching and Leadership Self Reflecting ALLY relationships
  • Individual and group-based reflection
  • Group discussions and structured forums
  • Goal setting


  • Develop participants’ self-awareness of leadership strengths.
  • Provide a forum for discerning professional and organization values, vision, and core commitments.
  • Support participants’ resilience and integrity to sustain a commitment to solving complex social issues.
  • Create a community of leaders and advocates that recognizes and honors differences and diversity.


Leadership coaches will serve as local supports and models for trainees, helping them to translate their leadership skills into action. Prior to their meetings, at the in-person training event, trainees will identify leadership goals that are connected to activities that are integral to his/her work and commitments. These goals will not be in supplement to their expected responsibilities.  Coaches will model leadership skills, deliver strengths-based feedback, provide psychosocial support, aid networking, and facilitate problem-solving.


Coach Responsibilities

  • Participate in an orientation designed to introduce coaches to the AUCD Leadership Academy and its coaching component
  • Support trainee in growing leadership skills and achieving leadership goals identified via participation in the AUCD Leadership Academy (see above for more information about goals)
  • Model leadership skills, deliver strengths-based feedback, provide psychosocial support, aid networking, and facilitate problem-solving
  • Meet formally at least 4 times; also provide at least one opportunity for trainee to observe the coach’s leadership skills and observe the trainee once


Leadership self-reflection allies (“allies”) are peers and faculty from the Leadership Academy. Monthly phone calls will provide support for continued reflection and growth in regards to leadership skills. Our goal is for allies to support continued development as leaders, contributing to each individuals’ continued self-reflection and growth.

Ally Responsibilities

  • Monthly telephone call
  • Reflecting upon leadership strengths and weaknesses and growing leadership skills


Daniel Crimmins Mark Crenshaw photoMark Crenshaw Andrew Roach Emily Graybill Raynell Washington