Leadership Academy


The ANCOR Foundation launched the Leadership Academy on May 1, 2017 to nurture emerging leaders who are building their careers in services and supports for people with disabilities. Over the course of two years, the Foundation provides training and mentoring opportunities to support mid-career professionals in cultivating their areas of expertise and thought-leadership to build influence and reputation in the national I/DD community as the next generation of leaders.

NEW! Applications for our third cohort are now being accepted.

The ANCOR Foundation anticipates kicking off its third cohort in March 2022, with graduation from the two-year program to be held at ANCOR’s 2024 Annual Conference. If you are interested in participating in the ANCOR Foundation’s Leadership Academy or know an emerging leader who might be, we recommend you:

Spotlight on Academy Participants

Welcome to our second cohort!

The ANCOR Foundation welcomed 21 new participants in the second cohort of the Leadership Academy on April 2, 2020.

Congratulations to the graduates of our first cohort!

The ANCOR Foundation congratulates these 13 members of Cohort 1 for successful completion of the two-year Leadership Academy program.  

  1. Ayesha Baiyina, National Children’s Center (Maryland)
  2. Susan Brooks, RCM of Washington, Inc. (District of Columbia)
  3. Tina Brown, DDRC (Colorado)
  4. Elissa Douglas, Independent Living Services (Arkansas)
  5. Nicholas Filarelli, Core Services of Northeast Tennessee (Tennessee)
  6. Suzette Frith, TSE, Inc. (Minnesota)
  7. Liz Holle, Big Lakes Developmental Center (Kansas)
  8. Michelle Jackson, Ability Connection Oklahoma (Oklahoma)
  9. Zhali Kamara, National Children’s Center (Maryland)
  10. Heather Payne, Big Lakes Developmental Center (Kansas)
  11. Rosario Rubio, Tobosa Developmental Services (New Mexico)
  12. Nikki Storebo, Mount Olivet Rolling Acres (Minnesota)
  13. Uchechi Ukaoma, National Children’s Center (Maryland)

Highlights from the Leadership Academy’s first cohort

Latest News

Learning From Leading Experts

The ANCOR Foundation is grateful to these I/DD leaders and subject matter experts for conducting trainings and serving as mentors for the Leadership Academy.


  • Chris Altizer, Partner, Altizer Performance Partners presented on Performance Management: That Thing We Love to Hate (November 2018)
  • Ellen Cooperperson, Founder and CEO of Cooperperson Performance Consulting,  conducted a three-hour workshop entitled Connect for Performance: Creating a Coaching Culture (May 2020)
  • Charlie Dorison, Researcher, Harvard Kennedy School of Government conducted a three-hour workshop entitled on Leadership Decision-Making (May 2019)
  • Dennis Felty, Keystone Human Services Founding President, presented on A Brief History of IDD Services (July 2020)
  • Dara Gary, Controller, East End Disability Associates, Inc. presented on Finance Management for the Non-Financial Manager (September 2018)
  • Bob Gettings, former Executive Director for NASDDDS and author of Forging a Federal-State Partnership presented on History of Developmental Disabilities Policy (November 2017)
  • Steve Hendricks, former Business Development Director, Scioto Properties presented on Art of Servant Leadership (July 2019)
  • Sean Luechtefeld, Director of Communications, ANCOR, and Adjunct Faculty, MA in Communication, Johns Hopkins University presented on Frameworks for Communications Strategy (January 2019)
  • Chris Lyons, Executive Director, AIM Services, Inc. presented on Dignity of Risk: Balancing Person-Centered Principles with Regulatory Compliance (March 2018)
  • Donna Martin, Director of State Partnerships and Special Projects for ANCOR, presented on Value-Based Payments (March 2021)
  • Donna Martin and Shannon McCracken, ANCOR Government Relations team members, presented on Medicaid 2.0 (December 2020)
  • Lynne Megan, President and CEO, TSE, Inc. and Doris Parfaite-Claude, Federal Advocacy and Research Manager, ANCOR co-presented on Grassroots Advocacy 101 (July 2018)
  • Ashley Oolman and Alli Strong-Martin, Disability Inclusion Team Members for Lifeworks Services, Inc., on Beyond Etiquette Toward Equity (July 2021)
  • Kim Opsahl, former Director of State Partnerships and Special Projects, ANCOR presented on Medicaid 101: Navigating the Medicaid Maze (January 2018)
  • Tom Pomeranz, Owner, Universal LifeStiles LLC presented on Effective Leadership: Managing Critical Moments (March 2019)
  • Michael Smull, Partner, Support Development Associates presented on Becoming a Person-Centered Organization (February 2021)
  • Tom Speaks, Principal for The Impact Group, presented on Strategic Planning (July 2021)
  • Don Tebbe, Consultant on NonProfit Leadership Succession presented on Moving In, Moving Up and Moving On: Learning to Lead at Every Career Turn (April 2018)
  • Dustin Wright, Foundation and CEO of Disability Cocoon presented on Making the Shift to Technology First (September 2020)

Academy Mentors

  • Bonnie-Jean Brooks, President and CEO, OHI (Maine)
  • Patricia Browne, President and CEO, National Children’s Center (District of Columbia)
  • Robert S. Budd, CEO, Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (New York)
  • Natasha Fisher, Director of Strategic Marketing, Relias (North Carolina)
  • William Loyd Jr., Director, UI REACH (Iowa)
  • Heidi Mansir, Executive Director, Uplift (Maine)
  • Lynne Megan, President and CEO, TSE (Minnesota)
  • Regis Obijiski, retired, former Executive Director, New Horizons Resources (New York)
  • Rita Wiersma, CEO, Accord (Minnesota)