Debra Miller was recently elected to serve as a member of the Illinois/Iowa (ILLOWA) regional chapter of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).
“We are fortunate to have someone with Debra’s expertise and passion who is dedicated to making sure our students have access to the support they need to pursue their goals,” Kelly Wesener Michael, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, said.
Miller joined NIU more than a decade ago and currently serves at the director of the Disability Resource Center. She was nominated and elected by her peers to serve as a member-at-large on the board and as a newer member of the Illinois/Iowa regional chapter, Miller will join fellow professionals in disability services at institutions of higher education in Illinois and Iowa.
“Serving in this capacity will broaden my perspective regarding other disability services offices in Illinois and Iowa,” Miller said. “I think any time one can participate in professional development or career enhancing behavior, it contributes to leadership opportunities and prospects for future service.”
Miller said the Illinois/Iowa AHEAD chapter members have a voice at the larger table while also attending to issues at our home institutions.
“AHEAD is a large organization and it’s difficult to keep up with all of the operations and issues across the country,” Miller said. “The regional chapter allows members to focus on topics relevant to our local institutions while at the same time we benefit from a more global context.”
Illinois/Iowa AHEAD hosts roundtable workshops throughout the two states which allows participants to share ideas, solutions and resources on key topics in the disability support services field. Roundtables have been held at Rock Valley College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Iowa State University and Northern Illinois University.
Miller said every institution is unique as are the specific demographics and challenges. In turn, sharing best practices can only benefit everyone involved.
“Exposure to others’ policies and procedures, service delivery, and mission can benefit NIU,” Miller said. “Likewise, NIU has much to offer as we are a larger institution with a sizable student population bringing many years of experience to the conversation. Reciprocal listening and learning, with outcomes of growth and knowledge, will enhance staff and student experiences.