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Anjali Forber-Pratt
SHS alum Anjali Forber-Pratt Named Director of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research

SHS alum Anjali Forber-Pratt Named Director of the NIDILRR

Anjali Forber-Pratt, who earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the Department of Speech and Hearing Science in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois, has been named as director of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

Forber-Pratt, most recently an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, is an elite wheelchair racer, having won two bronze medals at the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. She also represented Team USA in London at the 2012 Paralympic Games.

Her research is focused on disability identity, inclusion, disability sport, and work related to disability activism. Forber-Pratt holds a B.S. in Speech and Hearing Sciences, an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology, and a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development, all from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

A two-time Paralympian and medalist in the sport of wheelchair racing, Dr. Forber-Pratt has dedicated her life to helping others recognize their potential. Globally, she is involved with disability advocacy efforts related to access to employment, education and sports. She was honored with the inaugural American Psychological Association Citizen Psychologist Award for Advancing Disability as a Human Rights and Social Justice Issue Award in 2020 and was recognized by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as a 2018 Emerging Scholar. In 2013, she was awarded the American Association of People with Disabilities’ prestigious Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award, given to emerging leaders within the national disability community. Also in 2013, she was named a Champion of Change by the White House and had an opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with President Obama about disability policy issues.

"I am extremely honored and humbled by this appointment as well as the opportunity to serve our country," Forber-Pratt said in a statement. "From my U of I days, I distinctly remember being explicitly taught that we had an obligation as alums to make the world a better place and to be ambassadors, especially for the broader disability community. Dr. Timothy Nugent taught us that, and my coach Adam Bleakney and others reinforced that every day—it was always more than just our athletic journey or just our academic journey. Many of us have found our own unique ways to embody that—I believe serving as Director of the National Institute of Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research is one way that I will continue to try to serve the broader disability community and educate others. I believe my collective training—with two degrees in Speech & Hearing Sciences as well as my PhD in education that taught me the analytic research skills—it truly is the combination of these degrees and U of I experiences and my own lived experiences as a proud disabled alum that position me well to transition into this role."

Forber-Pratt served as principal investigator for research projects covering a range of disability issues, including training of special education teachers, experiences of students with disabilities at every education level, and identity development. She has authored 33 peer-reviewed journal articles and is the author or co-author of a number of textbook chapters.

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