CPD Alumni of the Year: John Killoran

John Killoran

John Killoran’s 34-year career was interwoven with serving the families of people with disabilities: as a paraprofessional, a teacher, a principal, a state agency program director and a national technical assistance provider. He's been named the CPD's 2012 Alumni of the Year.

Many at the CPD are familiar with at least some of his story. While he was here he was the director of multiple projects focusing on the inclusion of young children with disabilities. After leaving the CPD he went on to work as the coordinator of Early Childhood Special Education with the Utah State Office of Education. From there he went to Oregon and eventually became an associate fellow at the Teaching Research Institute at Western Oregon University.  Throughout his career he generated more than $80 million in extramural funding.

But his friends in Utah may not know how his work with children with disabilities intersected with his personal life. He and his wife Paddi Davies started a non-profit foundation to provide support to children with severe disabilities on the island of Cozumel, just of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.

“Many families on the island find meeting basic survival needs an ongoing challenge,” the couple wrote. “These children and their families are invisible to most and few resources are consistently available.” They founded Amigos de Jose to provide educational services and basic needs to families. Later, as the needs grew, they merged Amigos with Carrie’s Heart, a larger Texas-based foundation.

For the last nine years they have also been involved in Ciudad de Angeles, which is another child-focused organization in Cozumel. Ciudad is a children’s home which provides a safe and healthy environment for orphaned, abandoned, abused and needy Mexican children.

CPD by the numbers

The CPD supported 475 graduate and undergraduate students through training, mentoring and employment in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.  Over the same time period, USU students received $553,695 from the CPD in financial support.

May News from around the CPD

students cut pvc pipe

Local high school students took on an assistive technology design challenge at the AT lab.

The students, who were from Wasatch Front high schools, were participating in a study being conducted by USU's Dr. Amy Alexander Wilson from the College of Education, and Dr. Dan Householder from USU's engineering college. The study is part of a grant received from the National Science Foundation.

The design challenge proposed by the AT Lab was a bathing transfer system that would help a young man in Ogden who has muscular dystrophy. Clay Christensen, AT Lab coordinator, had built an earlier prototype, but needed to refine the frame. (The device includes a part that is similar to a cot on a support system. Once the device is slid into the bath area, it straddles the tub.)

"This was the perfect opportunity. We were able to improve this device for our client and I was able to see how someone else approached this design problem," Christensen said.

Find out what the students came up with on the CPD website.

photo of Diogenes Hernandez

Diogenes Hernandez received the CPD's Student of the Year award--and he has literally come a long way to receive the honor.

Diogenes Hernandez came to the CPD from the Dominican Republic, via Utah State University. He’d already started freelancing in web design before he came to USU to finish his two bachelor’s degrees in computer science and mathematics. (He has since earned them and nearly completed work on a masters in business administration.)

When the time came to look for a job, he applied for one at the CPD’s WebAIM project.

“When I got here and I started… the people at WebAIM showed me a whole new world about why you do certain things, ” he said. His focus as a freelancer had been about making websites look pretty. When he talked to the CPD’s Sachin Pavithran and learned how assistive technology helps people with disabilities navigate the web, he understood the need for the accessible web design that made it possible.

Read more about Diogenes on the CPD Blog.

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