Congressman Marsha Blackburn, who represents Tennessee’s 7th District, visited the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) on Oct. 2, as part of the Center’s celebration of its 50th anniversary as one of the nation’s original Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers.
Programs to promote the independence and employment of adults, especially young adults, with intellectual and developmental disabilities was the focal point of the visit.
Among the innovative programs highlighted was TennesseeWorks, a VKC-led partnership with state and community organizations to increase the number of young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are employed in the state.
Also highlighted was Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, a free statewide, multilingual clearing house of disability resources with a helpline and website.
Congressman Blackburn also met with two students enrolled in Next Steps at Vanderbilt, the first postsecondary education certificate program in Tennessee for students with developmental disabilities.
“We had an opportunity to thank Congressman Blackburn for her support of the 21st Century Cures Act,” said Karoly Mirnics, M.D., Ph.D., James G. Blakemore Chair and Vice Chair for Research in Psychiatry, and VKC associate director. “She was a key driver of the legislation, which also includes supplemental funding for the National Institutes of Health, which is so vital to research on intellectual and developmental disabilities and to biomedical research broadly.”
Congressman Blackburn was accompanied by Karen Summar, M.D., M.S., staff policy advisor on health care, intellectual disabilities policy, and education.
In addition to Mirnics, VKC faculty and staff who met with Congressman Blackburn were Tim Stafford, M.M.H.C., VKC director of Operations; Lynnette Henderson, Ph.D., VKC associate director of Adult Community Services and research assistant professor of Pediatrics; Megan Hart, M.Ed., program director of Tennessee Disability Pathfinder; Next Steps students Jason van Wulven and Katie Zannowitz and Lindsay Bowles Krech, Next Steps job developer.
Jan Rosemergy, Ph.D., is VKC deputy director and VKC director of Communications and Dissemination.
Pictured top of page: U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn met with VKC leadership and Next Steps at Vanderbilt students to celebrate the VKC’s 50th anniversary. Pictured L-R: Lynnette Henderson, Ph.D.; Megan Hart, M.Ed.; Karoly Mirnics, M.D., Ph.D.; Marsha Blackburn; Tim Stafford, MMHC; Jason van Wulven; Lindsay Krech, M.Ed.; Katie Zannowitz; and Karen Summar, M.D. Photo by Kylie Muccilli.