Maria Mercedes Avila

Training Action Plan

Maria Mercedes AvilaMaria Mercedes Avila

Director, Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program
University of Vermont

Dr. Avila directs several federal and state projects in the areas of health disparities, workforce diversity, developmental disabilities, and training and consultation on cultural and linguistic competence. Since 2011, she has been invited to lead 28 national presentations and 55 regional sessions on topics related to National CLAS Standards, health disparities, social justice in health care, culturally responsive care and practice, and cultural and linguistic competence in advocacy and leadership. Her work has reached more than 3,500 providers across 48 organizations and 9 states. She has authored and co-authored articles, curricula, and technical reports in  these fields. At the national level, Dr. Avila is the immediate past chair of the Nation Association of University Centers on Disabilities Multicultural Council. In this role, she has helped infuse diversity and inclusion knowledge in programs around the country and has led initiatives that have resulted in diversifying the workforce at all levels of organization and leadership. Dr. Avila is Associate Professor of Pediatrics, the Director of the Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program, and the Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence Liaison at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. Dr. Avila is a member of the Vermont Governor's Children and Family Council for Prevention Programs, chair of the state Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) committe, and member of the Vermont Governor's Workforce Diversity and Equity Council. In these roles, she has helped advocate for prevention programs for children and families, reduce youth contact with juvenile justice, and ensure a fair justice system. Through her local, state, and national work, she has been nominated for eleven teaching, service, and research awards. The most recent recognitions include the 2014 Edith D. Hendley Award, the 2015 Kroepsch-Maurice Excellent in Teaching AWard, 2016 ALANA Outstanding Faculty Award, the 2016 Child Mind Institute National Change Maker Local Hero Award, the 2016 AUCD National Multicultural Council Award for Leadership in Diversity, and the 2017 Outstanding Woman Faculty Award. Most important, Dr. Avila is the parent of a young child with complex health and developmental needs and incorporates - in all training sessions and presentations - her experiences as a parent navigating these complex systems; and as a Latina living in the 2nd whitest state in the country.

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