Texas Tech University

Project Leadership Challenge welcomes 5-agency cohort

Robert Stein

February 1, 2022

Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities

Another group of Texas agencies will participate in an advanced leadership program on intellectual and developmental disabilities at Texas Tech.

A new cohort of five Texas service provider organizations were selected to participate in Project Leadership Challenge, a statewide leadership development program designed to prepare the next generation of leaders working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The five participating organizations are:

  • Andrews Center Behavioral Healthcare System, Tyler
  • Border Region Behavioral Health Center, Laredo
  • Denton County MHMR Center, Denton
  • Emergence Health Network, El Paso 
  • LifePath Systems, McKinney

During the one-year program, teams of three or four people from each participating agency attend training sessions at Texas Tech University that are led by The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities (NLCDD). The trainings cover current policies, best practices, evidence-based outcomes and quality services – all with a focus on improving the lives of people with IDD. 

Following the trainings, participants work with faculty and staff at the Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities at Texas Tech on a project to transform their organization so the people they serve experience an improved quality of life and increased community inclusion through independent living arrangements.

"Project Leadership Challenge aims to not only enhance participants' individual leadership, but also to provide agencies with a means to become leaders in Texas in supporting individuals with IDD in the least restrictive environments possible," said Stacy Carter, director for Project Leadership Challenge and a professor of special education at Texas Tech University. "There is plenty of room in Texas to expand attitudes about IDD. I hope that this training can spark a new way of thinking about where individuals with IDD can live, what work they can do, what decisions they make, and how they can be supported."

Project Leadership Challenge's inaugural cohort
The inaugural cohort of Project Leadership Challenge

Texas Tech faculty members will oversee the projects and provide mentorship and support. Members of a previous cohort of Project Leadership Challenge will also serve as mentors on the projects.

“Participating in Project Leadership Challenge will help our agency become more creative in problem solving, working together as a team, training future leaders and improving services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Heather Hallett, IDD division director at Andrews Center.

IDD includes many severe, chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments. IDD can begin at any time, up to 22 years of age. It usually lasts throughout a person's lifetime. People who have IDD have problems with major life activities such as language, mobility, learning, self-help and independent living. 

Project Leadership Challenge is funded by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). The mission of TCDD is to create change so that all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.