Texas Tech University

Project Leadership Challenge: Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders Working with Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


Provider organizations that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are experiencing an exodus of leaders due to retirement, and there is not a system in place to develop the next generation of leaders in the IDD field. Also, there is no formal training program for current leaders in the IDD field to learn about innovative methods to transform their organization from the inside-out so it can improve the services it provides. To address these potential leadership gaps, Texas Tech University and The National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities (NLCDD) are coordinating Project Leadership Challenge: Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders Working with Individuals with IDD.

About Project Leadership Challenge

Project Leadership Challenge is an intensive leadership development training program for leaders of provider organizations. During the one-year program, teams of three or four people from multiple organizations will learn how to transform their organization so the people with IDD they serve experience an improved quality of life and increased community inclusion. The program includes training, mentoring, a project, and an end-of-program conference. The program is free (training fee, airfare/mileage, lodging, food, transportation).

Cohort Size: Cohorts will consist of twenty applicants per year.

Training: The program begins on the Texas Tech campus (Lubbock) with NLCDD's highly rated four-day training. During the training, participants will learn how to transform services and supports for people with IDD, as well as how to impact their own organization. Participants will learn from each other and leading experts from across the country about how to embrace the shift to individualized, responsive supports for people with disabilities. The program will cover current policies, best practices, evidence-based outcomes, and quality services, all with a focus on improving the lives of people with IDD. Guest speakers and self-advocates from Texas will supplement an agenda already full of compelling workshops and presentations.

Cohort 1 training in progress

Participants will also learn about change-oriented principles and guidelines so they can affect change at the organizational level. Topics covered will include:

  • organizational culture,
  • empowering others,
  • providing immediate feedback and reinforcement,
  • reallocating/restructuring resources,
  • improving quality, and
  • conducting performance-based evaluations.

Mentors & Projects: Teams will ultimately develop a plan for organizational change – a project – that they'll implement over the course of the year. After the training in Lubbock, participants will communicate with a TTU mentor on a monthly basis as they keep their projects on-track and problem-solve potential barriers to organizational change. Communication with the mentor will take place remotely, via phone and/or online. Project outcomes will include:

  • participants assessing and building their strengths as leaders,
  • exploring new service models,
  • managing and sustaining transformational change,
  • building a positive organizational culture, and
  • developing the next generation of leaders within the organization.

Follow-up Conference: The program will conclude with a two-day conference at Texas Tech where teams will share information about the successes and challenges they experienced while implementing their projects to make lasting change.

The training for Year 4 was held in November 2022. The follow-up conference was held in April, 2023.

Contact Information

For more information about Project Leadership Challenge, please contact Pam Lindell at pamela.j.lindell@ttu.edu (phone 806-834-2016).


This work is supported by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities through a grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Washington, D.C. 20201, with a 100% federal funding award totaling $5,907,507. Council efforts are those of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of nor are endorsed by ACL, HHS, or the U.S. government.