Wendy Parent-Johnson, PhD, the executive director of the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities, recently announced that she will be transitioning away from the University of Arizona in September 2023. Dr. Parent-Johnson was recruited to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she will serve as the Director of the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center and Professor in the School of Education.
In Dr. Parent-Johnson’s time at the university she has led disability research, provided training and technical assistance, taught courses, and provided direct services focused on capacity building, model development, and systems change. She leads the statewide Cultural and Linguistic Competency and Refugee Roundtable with Disabilities Community of Practice. She has been awarded many new grants in her time here, including two grants focused on establishing a Native Center for Disabilities in Arizona and developing an indigenous transition approach for Native American youth with disabilities, both in partnership with Tribal communities. Her projects have focused on improving health care access, transition from pediatric to adult care, and pregnancy and parenting for individuals with developmental disabilities. She has been a leader in the state’s Employment First efforts and has launched several projects focused on increasing competitive employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. She has also been heavily involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within the College of Medicine - Tucson, serving as a diversity champion for the Department of Family and Community Medicine.
We are grateful for Dr. Parent-Johnson’s years of service and many contributions to the Sonoran Center and many other areas within the university and greater disability community that have benefited from her involvement. Her last day with us is Friday, September 8th, however, she graciously plans to provide continued leadership over several of the Sonoran Center’s key grants to avoid disruption for staff and the communities being served by these initiatives.
Jacy Farkas will serve as the primary contact for the Sonoran Center in the interim.