Austin Nugent, Disability & Health Program Coordinator for the UK Human Development Institute (HDI) has been selected as a 2021 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Network Emerging Leader. The individuals are selected based on their contributions to the network, how they have demonstrated leadership, and their values and commitment to diversity, inclusion, and respect for others.
Austin holds her bachelor’s in sociology and disability studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and is currently pursuing her Master of Public Administration and a graduate certificate in developmental disabilities at the University of Kentucky. Over the last eleven years, she has held many roles in the community centered around supporting and advocating for the meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities. However, her favorite role is being the older sister to a biological brother with Down syndrome and two adopted brothers with various support needs resulting from adverse childhood experiences.
“Given my lived and family experience with disability, my professional and personal goals are identical. Knowing firsthand the value of information and opportunities, my mission is to support others to access resources and services that empower them to lead healthy, self-determined lives”. Following graduate school, Austin is considering pursuing a law degree to gather additional knowledge needed to advocate and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
HDI Program Education Assistant, Morgan Turner, recently presented at the Dignity of Work International Forum sponsored by the Institute on Community Integration. In his presentation, Morgan’s Musings: My Successful Journey to Inclusive Employment in Higher Education, Morgan shared his experience as a person with a disability in finding, maintaining, and thriving in employment. Morgan was joined by co-presenters and HDI colleagues, Johnny Collett and Austin Nugent for a panel discussion about advocacy and strategies to improve employment and awareness.
As an Employment First state, Kentucky is committed to supporting competitive integrated employment as the first and primary option for our citizens with disabilities, regardless of their level of disability. As the state’s University Center of Excellence on Disabilities, the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) has served as a major thought leader regarding the lived experiences of people with disabilities for over 50 years and is committed to improving the inclusion, independence, opportunity and contribution of people with disabilities and their families throughout the lifespan.
Johnny Collett, HDI Deputy Director, says “Morgan’s knowledge, skills, values, dispositions, and experiences demonstrate what it means to live out the mission of the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute. Additionally, his achievements and leadership in supporting other people with disabilities to be successful exemplify the promise of Kentucky’s Employment First policy and what we envision for all Kentucky citizens with disabilities”.
Learn more about Morgan’s Musings or contact Morgan.Turner@uky.edu.