Neurodiversity: Panel Discussion, May 5
April 22, 2022

“Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways.”*

Many students you will encounter on the university campus are dealing with the added challenges of autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, or mental health issues. And university staff are committed to removing barriers to their success.

Join us via Zoom at noon to 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Thursday, May 5, for a panel discussion on neurodiversity and the campus experience. The event is part of a series of lunchtime conversations on sometimes difficult subjects related to diversity and inclusion, hosted by the UT Libraries’ Diversity Committee.

Vickie L. Hughes, J.D., President of Embracing Diversity, Inc., will moderate a discussion with several university staff members who work with some of our uniquely challenged students.

Emma Burgin is program coordinator of UT’s FUTURE Postsecondary Education Program, which helps young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make a successful transition from high school to adult life. Sara Conrad is accommodations coordinator for UT’s Student Disability Services, which seeks to establish an inclusive campus environment where every aspect of the university experience is readily accessible for all students without barriers or bias. William De Leonardis, manager of the UT Libraries’ Collection Logistics department, has supervised student workers from the UT FUTURE program.

Mark your calendar for May 5 so you won’t miss this informative event.


photo of Emma Burgin

Emma Burgin, PhD, NCC, is the director of the UT FUTURE Program, an inclusive postsecondary education program at the university that serves individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She earned her doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee in counselor education and supervision. Her master’s degree in clinical/community psychology is from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and her bachelor’s degree is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a member of the Chancellor’s Commission for Disability and completed the inaugural 2021 CEHHS Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Summer Institute. She also was chosen as a 2020 and 2021 Think College Policy Advocate, where she worked at the local, state, and federal levels in favor of disability policy initiatives that impact higher education.

photo of Sara Conrad

Sara Conrad earned her B.S. and M.S. in Special Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and upon graduation, she worked as a special education teacher with Knox County Schools. In 2019, she made the difficult decision to leave the classroom and is currently serving as an Accommodations Coordinator at Student Disability Services at her alma mater. Sara is a Vol for Life who loves working with college students with disabilities and is passionate about ensuring all students have equitable access to higher education.

William De Leonardis is the manager of the UT Libraries’ Collection Logistics department. He has been employed by the library for 27 years. Collection Logistics is comprised of four units: Library Express, Hodges stacks, storage, and shipping and receiving. William has an extensive knowledge of document delivery practices, physical holdings in Hodges and storage, shelf maintenance and inventory, public service, and interdepartmental workflows. William supervises five full-time staff. 

Vickie L. Hughes, J.D. (Moderator), graduated from Spelman College with a B.A. in Psychology (minor: Biology). Dr. Hughes also holds an M.A. in Industrial Psychology; a J.D. in Constitutional Law & Civil Rights; and an M.Div. in Pastoral Care & Counseling. Vickie (Facilitator/“Safe Space” Creator) hosts biweekly dialogues addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues (now called “Embracing Diversity: Dialogue Series”); this virtual Series airs live on Facebook and YouTube. Dr. Hughes earned a Diversity & Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University, in October 2021. As a DEI Facilitator/Consultant, Vickie is currently seeking long-term DEI contracts with for-profit and non-profit business entities. As an individual with two diagnosed disabilities, Dr. Hughes is most definitely a “disability ally/disability rights champion.” Vickie also functions as a racial justice educator and a female empowerment coach.


*”What is neurodiversity?”