tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

In November, Mirian Ofonedu, PhD, director of training for the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD), published an article, “The Growing Need for Community Partnering,” in the American Psychological Association, Division 37 Advocate newsletter. In the article, she stated, “We must engage with communities in an intentional and meaningful way if we are to have productive and impactful outcomes.”

On November 2, Mallory Legg, Esq., staff attorney for Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy and Law), gave a virtual presentation, “Special Education Law During the COVID-19 Pandemic Q&A,” to Kennedy Krieger Institute’s outpatient Occupational Therapy Department.

The MCDD sponsored “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Address Sexual Health Education Across Disabilities and the Lifespan,” which included a number of Kennedy Krieger faculty and staff members as presenters. The event was held on November 9.

On November 10, Maureen van Stone, Esq., MS, director of the MCDD, and Leslie Seid Margolis, managing attorney for Disability Rights Maryland (DRM), gave a core course presentation for Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND) and University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD) trainees titled “Special Education Law: Theory and Practice.”

On November 11, van Stone, Legg and Alyssa Thorn, Esq., staff attorney for Project HEAL, gave a virtual presentation, “Special Education Law Overview,” at OCALICON, a national conference about autism spectrum disorder and disabilities.

Legg and Thorn were exhibitors on behalf of Project HEAL at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law career exploration fair. The virtual event was held on November 12.

Also on November 12, the MCDD sponsored DRM’s Breaking Barriers Virtual Awards Gala. The gala is DRM’s signature celebration and shines a robust spotlight on individuals who further the rights of Marylanders with disabilities. The 2020 event was DRM’s first virtual gala.

On November 18, Legg and Thorn presented “Guardianship and Less Restrictive Alternatives” to the Kennedy Krieger employee affinity group for caregivers of youth with special needs.

MCDD interns Emma Barbato, Jenny Cleofe, Tracy Hincke and Kacie McDonald organized a webinar, “Paws and Relax: How Animal-Assisted Interventions Can Help,” presented on November 19. Of the 89 people who registered, 66 attended. Barbato, Cleofe, Hincke and McDonald developed a guide, Paws and Relax: Animal-Assisted Interventions Resource Guide, to accompany the webinar.

On November 24, Dr. Ofonedu presented “Grief and Loss and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Population” to The Johns Hopkins University’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Program.

On December 1, Legg gave a virtual presentation, “Special Education Law During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” for Baltimore City Public Schools Partners for Success.

Dr. Ofonedu collaborated with five other UCEDD/LEND program leaders on a concurrent session, “Preparing Trainees to Engage With and in Culturally Diverse Communities: Addressing the Social-Political Context.” Other presenters included Dr. Janice Enriquez, LEND training director at the UC Davis MIND Institute; Emily Graybill, associate UCEDD director at the Center for Leadership in Disability; Dana Yarbrough, assistant UCEDD director at the Partnership for People with Disabilities; and Wendy Jones, senior policy associate and research instructor at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. The session aired on December 8 at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) 2020 virtual national conference.

From December 6 through December 9, Legg and Thorn presented a virtual poster, “Combatting the Lack of Implicit Bias Training in Medical Education,” at the AUCD’s 2020 virtual national conference. Thorn also presented a virtual poster, “Disproportionate Discipline of Students with Disabilities,” at the conference.

Stacey Herman, MSEd, CESP, Kennedy Krieger’s director of postsecondary services; Megan Meck, the MCDD’s data coordinator; Rebecca Schmaus, Project SEARCH at Kennedy Krieger Institute coordinator, and Charles Durgin, adult and community services coordinator at Kennedy Krieger High School, gave a concurrent presentation, “Person-Centered Equity: How to Create a Seamless Transition From School to Adult Providers,” at the AUCD’s 2020 virtual national conference.

Dr. Ofonedu gave a concurrent presentation, “Preparing Trainees to Engage With and in Culturally Diverse Communities: Addressing the Social-Political Context,” at the AUCD’s 2020 virtual national conference.

Tami Goldsmith, self-advocacy program coordinator for People On the Go Maryland (POG); Mat Rice, former POG public policy advocate; and Herman presented a virtual poster, “Nothing About Us Without Us: From Subminimum Wage to Meaningful Employment in Maryland,” at the AUCD’s 2020 virtual national conference.

Van Stone; Tracy Waller, Esq., MPH; and other colleagues from the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities gave a concurrent presentation, “The Center for Dignity in Healthcare: Reducing Health Inequities and Addressing Medical Discrimination Experienced by People With Developmental Disabilities,” at the AUCD’s 2020 virtual national conference.

The Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative partnered with the National Black Child Development Institute to distribute more than 12,650 books that are a part of the Terrific Toddler book series, published by Magination Press, the publishing arm of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Ofonedu was one of the two psychologists invited to join the foundation for a webinar on December 9 to share guidance on how early childhood providers can best communicate with parents and facilitate home-based involvement in early childhood literacy development.

On December 14, Dr. Ofonedu presented “Effective Strategies for Promoting Positive Mental Health Outcomes for Black Children, Youth, and Their Families” to staff members of Kennedy Krieger’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders. Providers learned ways to increase the understanding of their own biases, and the impact of those biases on their clinical work.

A photo of Tracy Waller

On December 16, Legg and Thorn gave a virtual presentation, “Special Education Law During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” to members of the Kennedy Krieger employee affinity group for caregivers of youth with special needs.

On December 17, the AUCD published a blog post—“First to Die, Last to be Recognized: Will Vaccine Allocation be Equitable?”—by Waller, an attorney working with the MCDD to develop a Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities, on the AUCD Policy Talk blog.

Dr. Ofonedu was a panelist on a December 17 national virtual event, “Kindness and Family,” sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and the Born This Way Foundation. The event focused on the importance of instilling kindness during a child’s early years and provided parents and caregivers with ideas on ways they can encourage their children to show kindness to family members, friends and neighbors. Panelists included New York Times bestselling authors Andrea Davis Pinkney and Peter Reynolds. The event included hands-on activities for families and a special message from Sesame Street Muppet Abby Cadabby.

A photo of an ad promoting the "Let's Share Kindness" event Dr. Mirian Ofonedu participated in

In December, the World Childhood Foundation awarded a grant to adapt Responsible Behavior for Younger Children (RBYC) for teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities. RBYC was originally developed for typically developing children in sixth and seventh grades, to reduce their risk of engaging in inappropriate, illegal or harmful sexual behavior with young children and peers. The project goal is to adapt RBYC for implementation with teens with intellectual disabilities and is a collaboration between the MCDD and the Johns Hopkins University Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. Dr. Ofonedu will represent the MCDD on this grant project.

Kiely Law, MD, MPH, research director for the MCDD’s Autism Research and Engagement Core; Jaimie Toroney, MHS, senior research coordinator for the MCDD’s Autism Research and Engagement Core; and other SPARK colleagues published a scientific article, “Brief Report: Impact of COVID-19 on Individuals with ASD and Their Caregivers: A Perspective from the SPARK Cohort,” on January 2, 2021. SPARK also published a companion piece—“How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect People with Autism and their Caregivers?”—to accompany the scientific article.

Ken Capone, POG’s public policy director, was recently interviewed by The Arc Maryland on the topic of promoting school inclusion, under the Together We Are Better grant. See the video here.

Special Announcements:

Eve Lukowski with her fiance, Joel Kenney

Eve Lukowski, administrative services coordinator for the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD), became engaged to her high school sweetheart, Joel Kenney, on November 14. Joel surprised Eve by popping the question on an outing to Old Ellicott City.


A photo of Michelle Moore

Michelle Moore is the new grants manager for the MCDD and PACT, and will be managing each organization’s grant portfolio. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the Kennedy Krieger community. Her experience includes nine years of financial management and six years of grant management. Past portfolios included federal, state and private grants. The MCDD is excited to welcome Michelle, as she will be a valuable addition to the team.


A photo of Mat Rice

Mat Rice, former public policy advocate with People On the Go Maryland, has resigned, and has accepted the position of director of public policy with The Arc Maryland. While we are sad that he is leaving the MCDD team, we know there will be lots of opportunities for collaboration moving forward. Please join us in extending congratulations to Mat on his new position!