Summit DD staff member teaching session on inclusion

Emerging Leaders Program

Are you a self-advocate looking to take on more leadership roles within your community? Then we want to talk to you. Summit DD is launching an Emerging Leaders Program to help prepare self-advocates for visible and influential roles in the community and local organizations.

The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is an ongoing training and leadership development course designed specifically for self-advocates seeking to increase their capacity to impact their local communities.
The Program is comprised of six classes revolving around key leadership competencies:

  1. Relationship Building: emotional intelligence, building trust, conflict resolution.
  2. Feedback: personal profile (SMART Goal), coaching, peer-to-peer feedback, effective communication
  3. Agility: cultivating decision-making skills, evaluating individual performance and goal achievement.
  4. Adaptability: dealing with change, time management, flexibility.
  5. Innovation & Creativity: enhancing critical thinking, brainstorming, teamwork, collaboration.
  6. Leadership Launch: (final class) refinement of personal SMART Goals, certificates, board member roles & responsibilities review, transition plans accepted.

*Transition Plans with SMART Goals are developed during the ELP Program as part of the participant’s Leadership Path and are expected to be adopted into everyone’s ISP.

We are now accepting applications to participate in our Emerging Leaders Program (Class II). If you are interested, please submit the application below by June 15, 2024 to be considered for the program. Please note, class size is limited to 6 participants.

(Having trouble with the online form above? Download the PDF and complete the printed application. Please return your completed application via email to for consideration.)

Screen shot from animated film, Ian

ReelAbilities Film Festival Back for 2020 – Virtually

Summit DD, the Akron-Summit County Public Library, and the Children’s Museum of Akron , in partnership with ReelAbilities Cleveland are proud to announce the return of the ReelAbilities Film Festival – Cleveland (RAFF-CLE) – This year in a new virtual format. Read More ›

Mom, board president, and advocate Meghan Wilkinson poses with her twin boys, Casey and Connor

Advocacy and Networking

Summit DD is the community resource that makes meaningful connections for nearly 5,000 children, teens and adults with developmental disabilities. Those connections become part of your journey. With each connection, your network grows, helping you on your path to becoming your own strongest advocate. We encourage you to connect with these groups and strengthen your own network.

Below we have compiled some of the local networking and advocacy groups for you to tap into.


  • The ARC of Ohio: The Arc is a grassroots organization which advocates for human rights, personal dignity and community participation for individuals with developmental disabilities through legislative and social action, information and education, local chapter supports and family involvement.
  • Disability Rights Ohio (DRO): Disability Rights Ohio (formerly Ohio Legal Rights Service) is a non-profit corporation with a mission to advocate for the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio.
  • Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) Advocacy resources: Thanks to the DODD, there are a variety of advocacy resources, tools and councils available to help you make your voice heard. Find the one that is right for you.
  • Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD): Empowering Ohioans with disabilities through employment, disability determinations, and independence. Find the resources you need to live your best life.

Leadership Skills

  • Summit DD’s Emerging Leaders Program: Are you a self-advocate looking to take on more leadership roles within your community? Then we want to talk to you. Summit DD’s Emerging Leaders Program was created to help self-advocates take the next step in their journey to gain leadership skills for visible and influential roles in the community or local organizations.

Networking and Advocacy

  • Autism Society of Greater Akron: The Autism Society is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots autism organization committed to improving the lives of those affected by autism. The Greater Akron affiliate was established in 1987 and serves Summit, Medina, Portage, Wayne, and Stark counties.
  • Autism Speaks: Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support.
  • Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) Networking groups: Check out the networking groups and councils available through the DODD. From the Early Childhood Forum to the Family advisory council, there are a number of ways to stay connected to people and families just like you.
  • The Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Ohio (DSANEO): DSANEO is a nonprofit organization for people with Down syndrome which started as a grassroots parent movement that now joins families throughout Northeast Ohio.
  • Don’t forget to check out our event pages for additional opportunities to learn and network with other families!

Useful Links & FAQs

Useful Links & FAQs

There is a wealth of resources and information available to you.
Below are links to helpful organizations and answers to many of the
top questions you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions icon

Frequently Asked Questions

Need to understand the MUI process? Aren't sure what IEP stands for? Let us help! From services to levy funding, you can find the answers you need right at your finger tips in our library of frequently asked questions.

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Advocacy and Networking

Connecting with others is the first step to empowerment and self-advocacy. Let us help you find the parent networking group or advocacy organization that is right for you.

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Rights and Resolving Complaints

Everyone is afforded certain rights and freedoms under the law. It's important to know those rights. It's also important to know how to resolve a complaint about services should you ever need to.

Learn about Rights and Resolving Complaints


Summit DD is a levy-funded agency that relies on the generous Summit County tax payers to support the more than 5,000 children and adults with disabilities in Summit County. Thanks to those levy dollars, we are able to tap into state and federal funding which invests an additional $60 mil into our county. Learn more about how Summit DD and the essential services that people rely on each day are funded.

More about funding
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