Education Alumna Appointed by White House as Director of the NIDILRR

by Office of Communications  /   May 24, 2021

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Dr. Anjali Forber-Pratt, who holds three degrees from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has been appointed by the White House as the administration's new 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.

“I am extremely honored and humbled by this appointment as well as the opportunity to serve our country," says Forber-Pratt. "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 it 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 this, and 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," Forber-Pratt says. "I believe my collective training—with two degrees in Speech & Hearing Sciences as well as my Ph.D. in Education that taught me the analytic research skills—it is truly the combination of these degrees, my U of I experiences, and my own lived experiences as a proud disabled alum that position me well to transition into this role.”