IOWA CITY, Iowa – Derrick K. Willis has assumed the leadership of Iowa’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) within University of Iowa Health Care.
He has served as the interim director since January. Willis has been instrumental in advancing the UCEDD’s outreach to under-served populations. Since joining Iowa’s UCEDD as associate director in August, he has led diversity efforts for the center, and the successful continuation of the state’s Money Follows the Person program.
“It is an honor as well as a privilege to be selected to lead an organization with such a rich history in leadership and service,” Willis said. “I look forward to working with CDD and the team of dedicated professionals as we meet the lifespan needs of individuals with disabilities and their families.”
Prior to joining CDD, Willis served as director of urban mission at the Institute for Human Development, Missouri’s UCEDD, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Willis’s background includes 32 years’ experience working at local not-for-profits, in state government and higher education. Most of his career has centered on working with youth and families from diverse backgrounds living in urban communities. He brings experience in mental health, substance and alcohol abuse treatment and prevention, violence prevention, education transition, employment, and cultural competency.
Willis is the son of Belva Morney, of Sedalia, and the former owner of Burt-Manor Nursing Home in Sedalia. He graduated from Smith-Cotton High School in 1980.
Willis is a past recipient of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities Multicultural Award for Leadership in Diversity and a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities. He serves on the AUCD Board of Directors and co-chairs the Multicultural Council for AUCD.
He is also a member of the University of Iowa’s Disability Planning and Action Committee, which leads the university’s long-term strategic planning to ensure disability services are available for students, faculty and staff, and campus visitors.