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UA Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities Welcomes New Director, Wendy Parent-Johnson, PhD

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wendy Parent-Johnson, PhD, CRC, CESP, has joined the University of Arizona Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities as its new director.

The UA Sonoran Center is part of the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine. Through teaching, innovative model programs, research and community education, the center works to ensure individuals with developmental and other disabilities have the support they need to fully participate in the community.

The founding director of the UA Sonoran Center, Leslie J. Cohen, JD, is retiring from the position after leading it since 2007.

Dr. Parent-Johnson previously worked at the University of South Dakota (USD), where she was a professor in the Department of Pediatrics, served as the executive director for the Center for Disabilities and was director of the university’s Leadership Education in Neuromuscular Disabilities (LEND) program.

Dr. Parent-Johnson earned a Master of Science degree in rehabilitation counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and went on to complete a doctorate in education from VCU. Her focus of study was adult/secondary education services for individuals with developmental disabilities, with a concentration in clinical psychology. In addition, she is a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC) and a certified employment support professional (CESP). She has more than 30 years of experience in the disability field, with an emphasis in the areas of supported and customized employment, transition from school to work and Employment First policy and practice. More recently, her research and teaching has focused on health-care transition, health disparities, interdisciplinary health sciences education and the integration of health and employment. In addition, she is editor of the Journal of Rehabilitation.

“It has been such a wonderful journey working in partnership with the University of Arizona and the community to further inclusion for people with disabilities,” Cohen said. “Dr. Parent-Johnson is a passionate and experienced disability leader, and I am thrilled that she will continue to develop the UA Sonoran Center in impact and reach.”

“I am very grateful for the remarkable work Leslie accomplished during her tenure as the Sonoran Center’s director for the past 11 years,” said Myra Muramoto, MD, MPH, professor and chair, UA Department of Family and Community Medicine. “As we bid farewell to Leslie, we welcome Dr. Parent-Johnson, a nationally recognized leader in the disability field. We’re excited to see what she will accomplish as the center’s new director.”

“I am thrilled to join the UA Sonoran Center team and value the opportunity to build on the center’s great work and accomplishments as a result of Leslie’s leadership and vision,” Dr. Parent-Johnson said. “I am looking forward to working with the university, the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine and many people and organizations around the state as we continue to move forward, following in Leslie’s footsteps to further enhance inclusion for all people with disabilities.”

Please learn more about the UA Sonoran Center: sonoranucedd.fcm.arizona.edu

About the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine

The UA Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson is one of the top-ranking family medicine programs in the country. The department is known for outstanding pre- and post-doctoral education, groundbreaking research and innovative community outreach programs designed to improve the health of individuals, families and communities in the region and beyond. The department places strong emphasis on research, particularly in the fields of tobacco cessation, substance abuse, obesity and related diseases, cancer survivorship, behavioral health and disabilities, and Native American health.

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