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Dr. Elizabeth Perkins Awarded the 2022 George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Dr. Elizabeth Perkins, Associate Research Professor and the Associate Director of the Florida Center for Inclusive Communities, is the 2022 recipient of the prestigious George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). The AUCD is the membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs. These programs are located in every U.S. state and territory and are all part of universities or medical centers. They serve as a bridge between the university and the community, bringing together the resources of both to achieve meaningful change and promote inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The award was presented at the AUCD 2022 Annual Conference Awards Ceremony held in Washington, DC on November 15. It recognizes a UCEDD, LEND or IDDRC executive, faculty or staff member who has demonstrated a distinguished career of excellence and leadership in support of AUCD's mission to advance policy and practice for and with people living with developmental and other disabilities, their families and communities. Previous recipients include many luminaries in the disability field such as Gunnar Dybwad, the Kennedy family, and Justin Dart (who is considered the “Father of the Americans with Disabilities Act”).

In their nomination letter,  Drs. Lise Fox and Don Kincaid of the Florida Center for Inclusive Communities, wrote "Dr. Perkins' career has had a profound impact on the disability community at a university, local, state, national and international level. She has consistently impacted people, systems and services with her personality, wisdom, competence, and commitment. Her achievements were recognized by Exceptional Parent Magazine in 2021 in the listing of 50 living advocate heroes and as a National Honoree in the 2020 National Historic Recognition Project for her significant national contributions in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities."

"I am honored and humbled to receive this award, especially when previous recipients are my personal heroes in the disability field," said Dr. Perkins. "And how lovely that it bears George’s name, who retired the same year I was promoted to Associate Director at Florida Center for Inclusive Communities. I will be retiring next February after 36 years of a transatlantic multi-disciplinary clinical and academic career. My developmental disability and geriatric nursing experience in the UK grounded my academic career in psychology and gerontology in the USA. It’s one that I never imagined when I emigrated to the USA in 1998.  You all embraced and elevated this disability professional with a disability, to have a platform, to have credibility, to have a voice that you listened to, to become a leader. And Effective leadership requires us to learn, listen, share, educate, mentor, and advocate – to break down barriers, to make progress, to make a difference."