Ark-AHEAD was established as a statewide organization in 1995. A small number of disability services professionals in Arkansas had been members of the national AHEAD and had attended the national conference, but thought it would be helpful to build local resources within Arkansas. Many service providers in Arkansas are from small schools, and working with students who have disabilities is often only one of their functions. Often their experience and educational backgrounds are in other fields. Providing professional development opportunities to these professionals was a major impetus for the creation of this organization.
The statewide organization has continued to work toward this mission by providing extensive training, using both experienced local and renowned national presenters. Over time it has built a statewide network, enabling professionals to share ideas and strategies that have worked in what are sometimes difficult situations. The organization’s listserv and Web site have served to further facilitate networking among professionals across the state.
Among Ark-AHEAD’s founding members are Mark Taylor from Arkansas State University at Beebe, Susan Queller from University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Darryl McGee, who at the time was employed by University of Central Arkansas.
In 2003, Ark-AHEAD became a regional affiliate of the national organization of AHEAD. Among other benefits, AHEAD provides Ark-AHEAD with a complementary registration at the annual AHEAD conference for a designated representative, access to an Affiliate Fund to help finance affiliate events or projects, a link to our site on AHEAD’s web site and opportunities to partner with AHEAD in the development and advertisement of regional conferences and workshops.