50 Years - Opening Doors, Transforming Lives

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Timeline

How quickly the world has changed for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 50 years. Families, community organizations, researchers, clinicians, staff, students, educators, public policy makers - all have worked together to create change. We will create an even better future together over the next 50 years. The VKC Timeline places VKC milestones within the context of the national disabilities rights movement.

1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

View list of center directors


2000 — Tennessee Disability Pathfinder founded in partnership with the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Photo from the TRIAD summer camp program

2000 — 1st TRIAD Social Skills Camp marks beginning of a variety of summer programs to promote academic learning and skills development for children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. [Photo VU/Neil Brake]

July 2001 — The Kennedy Center becomes a Vanderbilt university-wide research center, further enhancing the Center’s interdisciplinary resources.

2001 — President Bush introduced the New Freedom Initiative to promote community integration and issued an Executive Order for tearing down barriers for people with disabilities.

Photo of Directors of Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network with ADD Commissioner Pat Morrissey. (Left to right) Pat Levitt,Wanda Willis, Pat Morrissey, Fred Palmer, Shirley Shea, Elisabeth Dykens

2005 — Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is designated as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD). Pictured left to right: Pat Levitt, Wanda Willis, Pat Morrissey, Fred Palmer, Shirley Shea, and Elisabeth Dykens. [Photo VU/Tommy Lawson]

Photo from the Multicultural Outreach Program

2005 — Multicultural Outreach Program begins.

2007 — Tennessee Alliance for Postsecondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities established.

Photo from Science Day

2007 — 1st Annual VKC Science Day.

Photo from the LEND training program

2008 — Vanderbilt Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Training Program becomes a part of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. LEND is funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, HRSA.

2008 — Disabilities, Religion, and Spiritual program begun.

Photo from the Families First Program

2008 — TRIAD Families First workshops for parents of young children with autism begun with gift of Ann and Monroe Carell, Jr.

2008 — The Volunteer Advocacy Program (VAP) accepts and trains its first cohort of volunteer advocates. VAP trains parents of children with disabilities to serve as advocates for families in their respective areas during school Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.

Photo from the Next Steps at Vanderbilt postsecondary education program

2010 — Next Steps at Vanderbilt begins—Tennessee’s first postsecondary education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Photo from the 2010 ACM music camp

2010 — Academy of Country Music Lifting Lives supports Music Camp for individuals with Williams syndrome, begun 2005.

March 2011 — Tennessee Allies in Self-Advocacy (TASA) created.

Photo of the front of the VKC building

Fall 2011 — The “MRL Building” is renamed One Magnolia Circle.

Photo two people working

2012 — TennesseeWorks established to increase the number of young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities employed, a statewide collaborative supported by an AIDD Project of National Significance.

Blue text = federal legislative landmarks

VISIT A DECADE: 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s


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