Leadership in Disability Studies Certificate

Who We Are

Carl F. Calkins, PhD

Carl Calkins is Professor of Psychology and Director of the University of Missouri Kansas City Institute for Human Development (IHD). He also serves as faculty at the University of Missouri Columbia: Center for Family Policy and Research. Dr. Calkins' recent work focuses on community inclusion, believing that our work is most effective when we successfully increase the self-determination, community inclusion, and social capital of all citizens. Recently, Dr. Calkins was honored to receive The C. Brice Ratchford Memorial Fellowship Award presented by University of Missouri System President for his commitment, dedication, and effectiveness in advancing the University’s land-grant mission. Dr. Calkins' publications include: A Social-Ecological Approach to Promote Self-Determination (Exceptionality, A Special Education Journal); Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy (Issue 1: Research to Practice in Self-Determination Series); and Social Competence for Workers with Developmental Disabilities: A Guide to Enhancing Employment Outcomes in Integrated Settings, which won a Book of the Year Award. Dr. Calkins received his Ph.D. in Special Education and Community Education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University, M.A. in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State College, and B.A. in Psychology from State University of New York, Albany.

Bill Dittmeier, JD

Bill Dittmeier received a Juris Doctor degree from Creighton University and a Master of Laws degree from the University of Missouri Kansas City. His work has focused on children's rights, education law, and civil rights; particularly the rights of individuals with disabilities. He has worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; served as the general counsel of the Kansas City, Mo. School District, the director of regional and national legal centers providing disability law training, technical assistance and litigation support, and the director of an office that represented children in the Jackson County, Missouri Family Court. He has made presentations regarding the rights of individuals with disabilities at regional and national conferences. He is currently the Chief Attorney in the U. S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights' regional office in Kansas City,

George Gotto, PhD

George S. Gotto IV is the Director of Community Services at the UMKC-IHD. In this role he works throughout the state of Missouri to conduct community-based research and training projects with Senate Bill 40 Boards and Missouri Division of DD Regional Offices. In addition, he currently coordinates the activities of the National Gateway to Self-Determination project, a national self-determination training initiative. Dr. Gotto also has extensive experience with the development and management of communities of practice and has co- written a step-by-step guide to CoP development (Gotto, et al., 2008). He is trained as an applied medical anthropologist with an emphasis in community-based research and cross-cultural perspectives on disability. Over the past 17 years Dr. Gotto has participated in multiple participatory action research projects with grassroots leaders with disabilities in the United States and Mexico (see CV for relevant citations).In 2010 Dr. Gotto was recognized for his leadership and excellence in applied research by the Board of Directors of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) which elected him to the status of Fellow. Dr. Gotto currently teaches a course on Disability across the Lifespan at UMKC. Lastly, he has published peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, reports, and curricula in areas related to self-determination, community-based research, and, social capital.

Elizabeth A. Moran, JD

Ms. Moran joined the Law Office of Stephen J. Moore, P.C. in Kansas City, MO, in 2006 and is licensed to practice in Missouri and Kansas. In addition to her practice with the firm, Ms. Moran is an adjunct at UMKC School of Law where she co-instructs the multi-disciplinary course Leadership in Disability Studies. Ms. Moran also works with UMKC Institute for Human Development (IHD) where her research and advocacy has focused on lifespan issues in disabilities, safety planning for adults with disabilities, guardianship, and community inclusion. She is the lead trainer and co-author of the statewide project MO Guardianship: Understanding Your Options and Alternatives, sponsored by the Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities and co-developed and produced by the IHD, Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services, and People First of Missouri. As with her older sister who has a developmental disability and lives independently, Ms. Moran is a strong supporter of community inclusion and an enthusiast of creative problem solving dedicated to assisting individuals with disabilities and their families as they navigate the legal system and seek understanding of the options and alternatives available as they pursue the most appropriate means of long-term support and/or protection.

Alexis N. Petri, EdD

Alexis Petri received her master's degree in English and her doctorate in higher education from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. During the past years as research associate at the UMKC Institute for Human Development she served as director of interdisciplinary training, co-director of UMKC's service-learning program, and co-principal investigator and project director on several federal grants. Dr. Petri has gained experience in working with youth with disabilities, veterans with service-connected disabilities, program evaluation, non-profit organizations, and post-secondary education systems change. Her prior experience includes eleven years serving as program director of service-learning at two universities -University of Missouri Kansas City and Rockhurst University-where she taught service-learning courses and worked with faculty, instructors, and community partners to design academic service-learning projects that extend classroom-based learning to a real world context. She has also coordinated a consortium of faculty from 14 different institutions of higher education, administered a $2 million dollar scholarship program, and staffed a national career development initiative for early childhood educators. Her research interests include campus-community partnerships, reciprocity, self-efficacy in higher education students, adult education/professional development, educational technology, and high impact learning environments.

About the UMKC Institute for Human Development

The UMKC Institute for Human Development is one of 67 national University Centers for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) in every state and territory. The Institute for Human Development began in the late 1970s as the UMKC Institute for Community Studies. At that time, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and the Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities were encouraging expansion of community based programs for people with developmental disabilities. To this end, in 1977 the Institute for Community Studies established the Missouri University Center for Excellence (UCE). The new UCE specifically addressed consumer-identified needs from a community based perspective. Given Missouri's dual rural and urban nature, the expectation was that the program would be outreach oriented and responsive to needs across the state.


George Gotto, PhD
Director of Interdisciplinary Training

UMKC Institute for Human Development
215 W. Pershing Road, 6th Floor
Kansas City, MO 64108

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