By Sandy Siegel
Congratulations to now former SRNA Board Member, Anjali J. Forber-Pratt, Ph.D., who recently joined the Administration for Community Living (ACL) as the new Director of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). She has served on the Board of Directors for the Siegel Rare Neuroimmune Association since 2013. Anjali has been a member of our community for a very long time. Her story is remarkable, and I encourage everyone to take the time to learn about Anjali. Anjali was diagnosed with transverse myelitis as an infant.
I first met Anjali shortly after she published a book for children about being a Paralympian. She co-authored an educational kids’ coloring book about disabled sports titled, “Color Learn & Play: All About Sports for Athletes with Physical Disabilities”. Anjali’s athletic accomplishments are exceptional. She is a two-time Paralympian and medalist in the sport of wheelchair racing. She competed in Beijing and London and is the former world record holder in the T53 200m. Anjali’s academic accomplishments are also remarkable. She holds a doctorate in education and specializes in research on disability identity. Anjali most recently served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University. She is recognized nationally for her leadership and service. She presents regularly at state, national, and international conferences and is author on 19 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous chapters. She was honored by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as a 2018 Emerging Scholar. She was recognized in 2013 by President Obama’s administration as a Champion of Change and recently received an award from SHAPE America as the 2018 Guiding Woman in Sport. She is involved with disability advocacy efforts related to access to employment, education and sport through public speaking and media appearances. She has been actively involved to help create inclusive sport opportunities for individuals with disabilities in Bermuda, India, Zambia and Ghana. She has appeared on several television programs and radio shows, including NPR, The Stream, and Sesame Street, and has been quoted in the national print press, including The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Huffington Post, USA Today, and Runner’s World.
Anjali also happens to be a wonderful human being. After getting to know her, we thought she would be an excellent role model for the children who come to our camp. We were so right. Anjali has become a regular participant in our SRNA Quality of Life Family Camp. The children love getting to meet her and having their photograph taken with her. They love that she is a regular in our messy games. She is a presenter in our education program, and she makes herself available to meet with parents and children. Anjali also helps to lead the discussion sessions with the children at camp, along with Dr. Lana Harder. Anjali is also a regular presenter at our education programs and our podcasts.
Her contributions to our community and to our organization have been immeasurable. As she takes her new position, she will continue to make a difference for all of us through her leadership in research and developing policy for the disability community. We are so proud of Anjali. We wish her the best in her new endeavor.
See below for some of Dr. Forber-Pratt’s work with SRNA:
- How is Disability Identity Formed? Findings from a Study with Adolescents
- Workgroup Session III: ADA, Disability, and Benefits
- Living with Myelitis (TM/AFM, NMO, ON, ADEM): Navigating Life, School, College, Work and Beyond
- Understanding Disability Identity and Implications for Future Study
- The Spinal Fusion Experience
- Our Paralympic Experience
- Air Travel with a Disability: Your Rights, Best Practices, and Suggestions