Erik Carter, Ph.D
Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor, Department of Special Education
Erik Carter, Ph.D., is Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. His research and teaching focuses on evidence-based strategies for supporting access to the general curriculum and promoting valued roles in school, work, community, and congregational settings for children and adults with intellectual disability, autism, and multiple disabilities. Prior to receiving his doctorate, Dr. Carter worked as a high school teacher and transition specialist. He has published more than 200 articles, chapters, and books in the areas of educational, transition, and community services for children and youth with disabilities. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children, the Early Career Award from the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Patricia L. Sitlington Research in Transition Award from the Division on Career Development and Transition, the Research Award from the Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and the Young Professional Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. He is an active member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and invests in collaborative partnerships across the university and state. Visit his website to learn more about his current projects and research: www.erikwcarter.com.
Elise McMillan, J.D.
Director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Director of Community Engagement and Public Policy Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
As the director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), Elise McMillan has more than 20 years' experience in leading programs and projects that support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and their communities. She holds leadership roles in numerous national, state, and community disabilities organizations, including The Arc U.S., the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Disability Coalition. As Co-Director of the Center's UCEDD, she provides oversight of daily operations and assists area coordinators and directors of core functions in planning and implementation. She is responsible for personnel, budget oversight, and representing the UCEDD at the local, state, and national level. She is an attorney and Senior Associate in the VUMC Department of Psychiatry. She holds leadership roles with TennesseeWorks, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, and Next Steps at Vanderbilt.
Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Special Education
Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Investigator
The goal of Dr. Taylor's research program is to understand how to promote positive outcomes in adulthood for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families. Much of her current work focuses on the transition to adulthood for youth on the autism spectrum. Current projects include: (a) developing and testing a parent advocacy training to improve service access and post-school outcomes as youth on the autism spectrum transition from school-based to adult services: (b) understanding the implications of employment and other day-to-day experiences for mental health and quality of life; (c) examining unique vulnerabilities of women on the autism spectrum, as well as vulnerabilities common across sex/gender; and (d) investigating the role of language development during the transition to adulthood for youth with fragile X syndrome.
Emily Lanchak, M.Ed.
Emily Lanchak, M.Ed., is an Educational Consultant within the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Her work centers on increasing employment outcomes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and supporting their families. After working as a special education teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools, she knows the gifts and talents persons with IDD bring to an employer. She has a passion for partnering with families of youth and adults with disabilities as they navigate life's different pathways. She previously worked on the Tennessee Behavior Supports Project, training and supporting school districts in Middle Tennessee in developing and implementing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and Response to Instruction and Intervention for Behavior. Emily holds a BA in secondary education and M.Ed. in special education from Vanderbilt University.
Laura Berry, M.S.W.
Laura Berry joined Vanderbilt University's Special Education department in February 2020, as an Educational Consultant. Focusing on increasing the employment outcomes of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through increasing information access and family member advocates' mentorship opportunities. Previously, Laura achieved her Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan and then launched Best Buddies Tennessee's Jobs program. She was recognized as Program Supervisor of the Year in 2016 and was promoted to Deputy Director, and shortly thereafter, Director of the National Jobs Team. Laura is a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP), previously supporting 22 Jobs locations across the United States. She has worked with hundreds of adults with IDD and their families across the United States to advocate and empower their decisions to pursue careers they are passionate about.
Project Manager, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD)
Laurie Fleming plans, coordinates, and administers Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities programs (VKC UCEDD), including activities of the Community Advisory Council and related Vanderbilt Kennedy Center activities. She also manages reporting of UCEDD trainees and activities to the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.
Anh Dao is an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and Medicine, Health & Society at Vanderbilt University. She is currently working on her Honors Thesis focusing on the first-year college experience, specifically on neural indicators of imposter syndrome, sense of belonging and sensitivity to social feedback. Through this study, Anh hopes to gain more knowledge about qualitative research and the development of specialized intervention methods, as well as the personal stories that families share.
Yuhan Meng is a graduate student in the Human Development Counseling program at Vanderbilt University. She previously worked with children with intellectual disabilities at Frank Allis Elementary School in Madison, WI. She has a passion for empowering individuals with disabilities to explore their potential and help them become their optimal self. She holds a bachelorâ€™s degree in Rehabilitation Psychology Counseling from University of Wisconsin Madison.
Sydney Benjamin is a Human & Organizational Development major at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College where she will be a senior this coming fall. She joined Vanderbilt University's Special Education Department as an Undergraduate Research Assistant and is eager to assist in research that will make employment more accessible for people with IDD. Sydney has experience working with other research teams at the university, studied and designed social science research within her major studies, and is looking forward to assisting in the development of interventions that will help improve lives.