tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

On October 10, Mirian Ofonedu, PhD, director of training for the MCDD, hosted a synchronous event, “Meeting with a National Leader on Faith and Disability.” Guest speaker William “Bill” Gaventa, a respected national leader in the field of disability and faith, presented to members of the Disability and Faith Community project, a project by the MCDD. Bill Gaventa is co-chair of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) national Collaborative on Faith and Disability, founder and director of the Institute on Theology and Disability, and author of Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness. In attendance were 16 people, including faith leaders from across Maryland.

Maryland’s 34th Suicide Prevention Conference occurred on October 12, with the theme “Connect, Response, Heal and Thrive.” Dr. Ofonedu served as a member of the planning committee for this event, and Tracy Hincke, MPH, MSW, the MCDD administrative services coordinator, also attended. The virtual conference discussed innovative ways to respond to and address suicide within communities.

Also on October 12, Kristine Nellenbach, MS, program coordinator for Resource Finder, represented the MCDD at the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic and Resource Fair, held at Kennedy Krieger Institute. The event was in partnership with Disability Rights Maryland and provided resources for topics such as voting, healthcare, alternatives to guardianship, and self-advocacy.

On October 13, a coalition led by the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCCEDD) received a five-year grant from Administration for Community Living (ACL) to establish the National Center on Disability, Equity, and Intersectionality. The MCDD will work as a partner on this project, along with Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence and Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). The goal of this program is to lead the nation’s charge in identifying and reducing life-limiting inequities in healthcare, community living and justice for people with disabilities.

Aaron Parsons and Maureen van Stone

On October 18, Maureen van Stone, Esq., MS, director of the MCDD, participated in the annual Neurodiversity at Work National Disability Employment Awareness Month event, held in the Ashland Conference Center at Kennedy Krieger.

Also on October 18, van Stone participated in Kennedy Krieger’s “Conversations, Connections, and Cocktails” at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. Pictured are van Stone and Aaron Parsons, EdD, vice president of Kennedy Krieger School Programs.

On October 18, the MCDD held its quarterly Community Advisory Council (CAC) meeting. MCDD faculty members, staff members and trainees attended the meeting, as well as participants from various community organizations and state agencies, all of whom serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Tracy Hincke, Sarah Mooney, Maureen van Stone and Kelsea Magaraci

On October 19, van Stone; Hincke; Sarah Mooney, Kennedy Krieger creative services manager; and Kelsea Magaraci, marketing specialist, participated in The Daily Record’s Women’s Leadership Summit at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Pictured from left to right are Hincke, Mooney, van Stone and Magaraci.

On October 20, van Stone gave a virtual presentation providing an overview of the MCDD to the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) department at Kennedy Krieger. 

Katy McGuire and Kristine Nellenbach

The MCDD was a sponsor of The Arc Baltimore’s largest fundraiser of the year, Art in the Round, which was held on October 21. The in-person event was held at the Grand Lodge of Maryland in Hunt Valley and featured an exhibition and auction of artwork created by artists with developmental disabilities. Nellenbach attended the event as a representative of the MCDD and met with Katy McGuire, the event’s organizer.

On October 22, van Stone and Dr. Parsons gave a presentation, “Accessing Special Education and Related Services, and Community-Based Supports,” as part of the Rett Ed Day hybrid conference at Kennedy Krieger, co-sponsored by The International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF).

Mallory Legg and Maureen van Stone

On October 25, van Stone and Mallory Legg, Esq., director of Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), co-presented “Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities” at the Maryland Rural Health Conference at Rocky Gap Casino and Resort in Flintstone, MD.

On October 26, Mason-Hale and Nellenbach co-presented an MCDD overview presentation to the Kennedy Krieger Neuropsychology Department.

On October 26, van Stone and Legg participated in the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates’ Attorney Roundtable: Restraint and Seclusion event.

On October 27, van Stone attended the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women Annual EmPOWER Breakfast at the Marriott in Owings Mills, Maryland.

On October 28, the MCDD was selected as a Kennedy Krieger Institute Quality and Safety Champion and recognized at an in-person event, celebrating all those who were selected. The MCDD received this recognition because of an outstanding commitment to ensuring quality and excellence, as evidenced by a quality improvement project that was presented to the Clinical Quality and Innovation Committee (CQIC).

On October 31, Dr. Ofonedu attended a kick-off meeting for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s newly awarded, five-year $11.7 million grant that aims to build and lead the Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) network. The grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the network will aggregate global research projects studying gene-environment interaction to understand causes of autism spectrum disorder and to improve quality of life among individuals with autism. Dr. Ofonedu is on the network team as a representative of the MCDD and will help develop and implement a pipeline for outreach and dissemination of findings that inform action, drawing from a multipronged communication strategy. The grant announcement can be viewed here.

On November 2, Dr. Ofonedu presented an interactive webinar, “Cultural Perspectives on Disability and Engagement of Culturally Diverse Populations in Research and Treatment.” This training was sponsored by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) and the MCDD.

Also on November 2, Dr. Ofonedu and Nellenbach attended the Baltimore Civil Rights Week community forum on life with disabilities in Baltimore City. The event was hosted by the Baltimore City Office of Equity and Civil Rights and held at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

On November 2, Legg organized a lunch and learn session, “Maryland’s New Supported Decision-Making Law: What You Need to Know.” The virtual session was presented by Megan Rusciano, managing attorney at Disability Rights Maryland. Attendees learned about Maryland’s new law that went into effect on October 1, 2022.

On November 3, Legg and Annie Carver, Esq., staff attorney for Project HEAL, represented Project HEAL as an exhibitor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Career Exploration Fair.

On November 8, van Stone delivered a hybrid presentation, “Special Education Law and COVID-19” with Leslie Seid Margolis, managing attorney at Disability Rights Maryland, as part of the Core Course curriculum at Kennedy Krieger.

Mallory Legg, Maureen van Stone, Beth Benevides and Mirian Ofonedu

On November 9, van Stone served on a panel to discuss a private screening of the award-winning documentary “In A Different Key,” hosted by Kennedy Krieger Institute at Loyola University Maryland. The film tells the true story of a woman who sets out to find the first person ever diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, an 88-year-old man living in rural Mississippi. The film debuted nationwide on PBS on December 13. Legg, Dr. Ofonedu and Beth Benevides also attended the event.

On November 17, Ken Capone, former director of People On the Go (POG), received the inaugural Governor’s Award for Disability Achievements. The award, along with an award for Disability Culture, was created to celebrate Governor Larry Hogan’s 2021 executive order making every July Disability Culture and Achievements Month in Maryland, coinciding with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) anniversary on July 26th.

Ken Capone receives the inaugural Governor’s Award for Disability Achievements

Also on November 17, Mason-Hale and Nellenbach gave two MCDD overview presentations to the Kennedy Krieger Physical Therapy Clinic and the Kennedy Krieger Psychiatric Mental Health Program (PMHP).

On November 17, van Stone and Legg gave a virtual presentation, “Evolving Trends in School Discipline,” at the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence conference, OCALICON. The presentation examined the impact of disproportionate discipline on students with disabilities and students of color.


On November 28, the MCDD sponsored an in-person event, “A Conversation on Inclusive Health with CBS Radio and Special Olympics,” and provided a pizza lunch. This event, a collaboration between Special Olympics and the CBS Sports Radio show, JRSportBrief, highlighted the importance of inclusion, especially in the healthcare system. Following the event, CBS recorded a five-minute segment that later aired on the JRSportBrief show.

On November 29, the MCDD sponsored a virtual webinar, “Supporting Parents and Caregivers of Students with Disabilities: How Schools and Service Providers Can Help.” Dr. Ofonedu moderated the panel discussion, which focused on sharing practical strategies and best practices for improving systems of support for parents and caregivers. The panelists included Mason-Hale; Rene Averitt-Sanzone, executive director of The Parents’ Place of Maryland; Dr. Terri Savage, executive director of the Department of Special Education for Howard County Public Schools; Beth Benevides, chair of the Community Advisory Council (CAC) and LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities) Family Faculty; and Karen Duffy, chief program officer of Maryland Coalition of Families.

Dr. Mirian Ofonedu leading a virtual panel discussion.

On November 30, van Stone participated in the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates roundtable on “Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities.”

Also on November 30, van Stone participated in On Our Own of Maryland’s webinar, “Understanding Your Rights in the Involuntary Commitment Process.” Attendees of the webinar learned about legal rights in the Emergency Petition and Involuntary Admission processes and how the Office of the Public Defender can assist with resources and representation.

On December 1, Legg gave an in-person presentation summarizing Project HEAL’s work on the 2022 SpArc Tank grant at the SpArc Innovations grant event in Columbia, Maryland. Applicants chosen for a second round of review to receive a grant through SpArc Tank, a project through The Arc Maryland, were in attendance to present their proposals for the upcoming grant cycle.

On December 2, Rachel Northrop, a research coordinator on the MCDD’s RADx-UP project, presented a poster, “Supporting the Well-Being of Children with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” at the 2022 TASH (The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps) Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

On December 5, Dr. Ofonedu gave a presentation to the Kennedy Krieger Pediatric Psychology Consultation Clinic about different cultural perspectives on disability and practicing through a cultural lens.

On December 7, Mason-Hale and Nellenbach co-presented an MCDD overview presentation to the Kennedy Krieger International Center for Spinal Cord Injury (ICSCI) department.

On December 8, van Stone participated in the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council half-day retreat at Arundel Preserve.

MCDD holiday gathering

Also on December 8, the MCDD staff members enjoyed an in-person holiday gathering at Liberatore’s Ristorante in Cockeysville, Maryland.

On December 8, Legg gave a Project HEAL overview presentation to the Kennedy Krieger Behavioral Psychology located in Columbia, Maryland.

On December 7, Mason-Hale and Nellenbach co-presented an MCDD overview presentation to Kennedy Krieger’s Speech and Language Department.

Chris Mason-Hale

On December 15, Mason-Hale and Nellenbach gave an MCDD overview presentation to the Kennedy Krieger Neurobehavioral Unit Outpatient Clinic.

On December 16, van Stone and Nellenbach presented an MCDD overview to Kennedy Krieger program directors.

Special Announcements

The MCDD is excited to announce several recent special occasions.

On October 21, Tyler Cochran, JD, legal advocate for Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), and Annie Carver, Esq., staff attorney for Project HEAL, received passing scores for the Maryland bar exam.

This November, Dr. Ofonedu became a first-time grandmother to a healthy baby boy. The family was happy to celebrate the safe delivery of this new addition to their family.

Lucy Legg

On December 22, Legg gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Lucy Prechtl Legg. She weighed 6 pounds and 10 ounces and she was 19 inches long. Welcome, Baby Lucy!