Status message

Active context: kki_bg_colors_green

Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education

Kennedy Krieger Institute is home to the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education, a new center focused on the development of future leaders in the field of special education. In its inaugural year, the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education selected two fellows to complete one year of interdisciplinary training. Both fellows have extensive backgrounds in special education, as well as graduate degrees in education.

Lisa Carey received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Masters of Arts degree in teaching with dual certification in social studies and special education from Goucher College. She has taught students with developmental and emotional disabilities in Baltimore County Public Schools and St. Mary’s County Public Schools, and worked as an adjunct education faculty member at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She was the 2013 recipient of the St. Mary’s Citizens Advisory Committee for Special Education Rise-Up Award for “going above and beyond to enrich the lives of special needs children in the St. Mary’s County Public School System.” Lisa’s primary interests are in inclusive education and school-to-adult transition services.

Christine Gralow holds a Master of Journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Science degree in education from Mercy College. She was a New York City Teaching Fellow. She taught high school students with multiple disabilities in the South Bronx and worked as a special education itinerant teacher and consultant in schools throughout New York City. Christine recently spent three years in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where she worked as an autism consultant in public schools and as a residential care provider at a treatment facility for students with severe emotional disabilities. Christine combined her journalism and education backgrounds in a series of articles for The New York Times’ Lesson Plans blog.

The Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education was the brainchild of Kennedy Krieger Institute president and CEO, Dr. Gary Goldstein. The fellowship brings together expertise in special education, neuroscience, behavioral science, and neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Dr. Nancy Grasmick and Dr. Mark Mahone serve as the Center’s co-directors. After her long tenure as Maryland’s superintendent of schools, Dr. Grasmick now offers invaluable guidance to the development of the Center, as well as close mentorship to the fellows. As director of the Department of Neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Dr. Mahone offers his expertise in both the fields of neuropsychology and leadership, and serves as an additional mentor to the fellows.

In addition to working with Drs. Grasmick and Mahone, the fellows are immersed in special education law through work with the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) Associate Director Maureen van Stone, who also directs Project HEAL. The fellows are also exploring facets of research design and scientific inquiry with MCDD Director Dr. Christopher Smith. 

In collaboration with Towson University, MCDD’s van Stone is providing the fellows with a unique “school law course” experience. Her direct mentorship is exposing the fellows to the history of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, landmark decisions, new OSERS communications, and an opportunity to publish peer-reviewed journal articles related to special education law. She has also coordinated multiple meetings for the fellows with Baltimore-area attorneys working on all aspects of special education law and disability rights, including private and public interest attorneys and school system attorneys. Fellows have also worked directly with Project HEAL’s intake process.  

Recognizing that the ability to interpret research and conduct informed decision-making is an integral aspect of educational leadership, Dr. Smith has custom designed a course in research methods and scientific inquiry. The fellows meet with Dr. Smith on a weekly basis to examine the role of data and research in the field of special education. Through their work with Dr. Smith, both fellows have become more fluent in the nuances of research design methods, and advanced their critical and analytical skills. 

Far beyond the course knowledge provided by the leaders of the MCDD is the invaluable access to mentorship. The fellows from the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education have been given the unique opportunity to openly dialogue with dynamic leaders in the field of disability advocacy.  This experience is unique to the fellowship and unlikely to occur in typical education leadership courses. The mentorship they have received will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on their careers and personal growth, as they take on new challenges to further the practices of special education.

For more information about the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education, please visit

This article was co-authored by the fellows, Lisa Carey and Christine Gralow.

Bradley L. Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., Named President and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute

We’re thrilled to welcome Bradley L. Schlaggar, M.D., Ph.D., to the Kennedy Krieger family as our next President and CEO.

Learn more.


Read inspiring stories, news and updates about the Institute's patient care, research, special education, professional training, and community programs.


Resource Finder


A free resource that provides access to information and support for individuals and families living with developmental disabilities.