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) at the University of Delaware are coordinating Project Leadership Challenge: Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders Working with Individuals with IDD.

Applications for Cohort 2 are now being accepted. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 16, 2020. Learn more and apply now.

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.

The training for Year 1 was held on February 3-6, 2020. Subsequent years' training will be held in November with follow-up conferences in March. All training sessions will be held on TTU Lubbock campus.

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. More information about the Followup Conference is coming soon.

Who Can Apply?

Project Leadership Challenge is for IDD service providers from across Texas. Organizations' applications will list a team of three or four staff members. To increase the likelihood of true organizational change, people in executive roles – executive directors, CEOs, etc. – are encouraged to be included as one of the team members, and preference will be given to applications that include executive participation. The other staff members should be either people in other leadership roles or emerging leaders. Four or five teams will be accepted into the program with 20 individual participants. The program is free.

Application & More Info

Participants will be selected through an initial screening process administered by Texas Tech University. Twenty participants will be selected per year for five years.

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

To be considered for this training, complete the 2020 Screening Form and email it to Pam Lindell at pamela.j.lindell@ttu.edu.


Financial support for Project Leadership Challenge is provided by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, with *Federal funds made available by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Disabilities. *$150,000 (80%) DD funds; $38,583 (20%) non-federal resources