Leadership Institute


Mentoring is a known evidence-based practice that has proven effective in supporting people across the lifespan to achieve desired goals and aspirations.  The Leadership Institute is offering one year of mentoring to all Leadership Academy graduates to integrate cultural and linguistic competence and cultural diversity in their career and life goals.  The Leadership Institute has identified a stellar cadre of people from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds to serve as mentors. 

Leadership Institute mentoring activities will embrace the following philosophy and definitions. 


Mentoring is a developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information, and perspectives to foster personal and professional growth of someone else.1 Mentoring is used to assist individuals at specific stages of their development or during transitions.  Mentoring relationships may be defined by their purpose and intensity and they vary in the commitment of time. The mentoring relationship provides a developmental opportunity for both parties and can thus be of mutual benefit.2

Culture and Mentoring

All interactions are cross-cultural.  The capacity to acknowledge, understand, and respond positively to cultural differences are key components of mentoring.


A mentor facilitates personal and professional growth in an individual by sharing the knowledge and insights they learned through the years.3


A mentee is an achiever - groomed for advancement by being provided opportunities to excel beyond the limits of his or her position.1

Andy Arias
Disability advocate/ADA SME
Leadership Academy Faculty

Maria Mercedes Avila, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Multicultural Director VT-LEND Program
University of Vermont College of Medicine

Fabricio Balcazar, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Disability & Human Development

Tracey Beard, MS
PhD Student and Research Assistant,
School of Global Inclusion and Social Development
University Massachusetts Boston

Renee Charlifue-Smith, MA, CCC-SLP
Senior Instructor Speech-Language Pathology,
Discipline Director,
Multicultural Director,
JFK Partners, Colorado's University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCED) and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Joan Christopher, J.D.
Research Instructor,
Georgetown University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities,
Georgetown University Center for Child & Human Development

Emily Cook-Graybill, Ph.D.
Associate Director,
Center for Leadership in Disability,
School of Public Health,
Georgia State University

Diana Denboba
Retired Branch Chief and Program Director of the Integrated Services Branch,
Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration,
Dept. of Health and Human Services

Goulda Downer, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor
Howard University College of Medicine, Capitol Region Telehealth Training Center

Jacy Farkas, MA
UCEDD Manager
Project Director, Person-Centered Initiative
Sonoran UCEDD | Department of Family & Community Medicine
University of Arizona, College of Medicine

W. Henry Gregory Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, School of Nursing
Department of Family & Community Health
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Specialty
Clinical Director, Rafiki Consortium, LLC

Sharonlyn Harrison, Ph.D.
Public Research and Evaluation Services (PRES)

Jacqueline Hayes, Ph.D.
Diversity and Inclusion Program Specialist
Language Access Coordinator
New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council

Natalie Holdren, Ph.D.
Education Specialist, Credential Supervisor
UC Santa Barbara,
President - California TASH

Judith Holt, Ph.D.
Director of Interdisciplinary Training
Center for Persons with Disabilities
Utah State University,
Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND)

Angel Love Miles, Ph.D.
University of Illinois UCEDD
Institute on Disability and Human Development
Department of Disability and Human Development
The University of Illinois at Chicago 

Mathew McCollough, MPA
Executive Director
DC Developmental Disabilities Planning Council

John Sanford, Esq.
Director of the Office of Recipient Rights for the
State of Michigan's Department of Community Health

Jose Soto
Vice President for Access/Equity/Diversity
Southeast Community College
Lincoln, Nebraska

Deborah Spitalnik, Ph.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Executive Director, The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities
Director, LEND
Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Sheryl White Scott, MD
Medical Specialist
New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) Association for the Help of Retarded Children New York City (AHRCNYC) National Disability Rights Network

Nachama Wilker
Deputy Executive Director for Training and Technical Assistance
National Disabilities Rights Network

Rick Ybarra
Program Officer
Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

The Leadership Institute is partnering with six organizations to support their journeys related to CLC and cultural diversity.  Partners will receive organizational mentoring that is tailored to their unique interests and needs and driven by their stage of organizational development. Lessons learned from the Mentor Partner Organizations over the five-year project period will be collected and shared on this web page and in other dissemination activities.

1 Definition of mentoring. Retrieved on 3/2/15 from http://alumni.calstatela.edu/mentoringprogram.

2 Zachary, L. J.  The role of teacher as mentor: New directions for adult and continuing education. No. 93, Spring 2002. Wiley Online Library. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

3 U.S. Department of Transportation, Departmental Office of Human Resource Management, Mentoring Handbook, p2. Retrieved on 2/25/15 from http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/mentor/mentorhb.htm).