July 3, 2017

Elise McMillan, J.D., Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD), Director of Community Engagement and Public Policy, and Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, will receive the 2017 Education Award of the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) at its annual convention held July 20-23 in Sacramento, CA. This award recognizes McMillan’s “extraordinary impact at the community, state, and national levels by developing model inclusive education and higher education programs for students with Down syndrome.”

McMillan has been a leader in the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance, and was the founding faculty director of Next Steps at Vanderbilt, Tennessee’s first inclusive higher education program. She has worked closely with Think College, the national technical assistance center for these programs, and its Capacity Building Institutes in Tennessee and other Southeastern states. She has co-authored publications in peer-reviewed journals that advance the practice of inclusive higher education. She likewise has been influential in promoting inclusive school-age children at the community and state levels. The NDSC works to promote the interests of people with Down syndrome and their families through advocacy, public awareness, and information.

“How perfect that a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center staff member, a graduate student and trainee, and a faculty member are being recognized for their accomplishments by these two prestigious national disability organizations,” said Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Annette Schaffer Eskind Chair, and professor of Psychology. "Each of them is truly outstanding, each making unique contributions to our mission of facilitating discoveries and best practices that make positive differences in the lives of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families."