Special Education Professor Peggy Schaefer Whitby Elected Vice President of DADD
Peggy Schaefer Whitby was recently elected vice president of the Council of Exceptional Children Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities.
Schaefer Whitby, associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education and Health Professions, will officially start as vice president on Jan. 1, 2020. She will cycle through each stage of the presidential line, ending as past president in 2023.
“This is the perfect time in my career to be able to step up into national leadership,” she said. “The division really supported me as a young teacher and professional.”
Schaefer Whitby is a long-time member of the Council for Exceptional and has attended, presented, and conducted workshops at multiple DADD conferences. Over the years, she has served on committees, written for DADD publications, and participated in state activities.
“Through this involvement, I learned that DADD is a valuable organization with committed leadership and members,” she said. “My values, passion, and interests align with the mission of DADD. I have over 30 years of experience serving people with disabilities. I believe that all people can and do learn, have a right to a free, appropriate public education, and that disability is a natural part of human diversity.”
Michael Wehmeyer, current DADD president and Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education and chair of the special education department at the University of Kansas, said Schaefer Whitby is a great choice for vice president.
Wehmeyer pointed to her experience in the field and the division, her research and practice experiences in the field of autism and developmental disabilities, and her past leadership record.
Currently, a U of A professor, Schaefer Whitby was a special education teacher first and said she’ll always consider herself one. Her number one goal as DADD vice president is to help the organization remain connected to special education professionals and people with disabilities.
“To keep ourselves grounded to the people who really need us,” she said.
As she has for many years, Schaefer Whitby will present a pre-conference workshop the day before the organization’s annual event. This year her focus will be on hard-to-reach special education populations. She’ll share her research and progress in Helena.
As far as future goals for the organization, she said she’d like to see DADD recruit a more diverse membership, such as people with disabilities, those of color and from LGBTQ communities.
“I believe representation matters,” she said.