CDHPD Core Team

Kara Ayers, PhD, is the Associate Director and Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCCEDD). She is Director of the newly formed Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities (CDHPD) and also a co-founder of the Disabled Parenting Project. Dr. Ayers’ interests include disability identity/culture, bioethics, community inclusion and the use of media to teach, empower and reduce stigma. She serves on multiple task forces and national and state coalitions related to improving outcomes for people with disabilities and infuses the mantra, “Nothing about us without us,” into all of her scholarly and community-based pursuits.

Leah Smith, MPA, is currently the Project Coordinator for the CDHPD at the UCCEDD. Immediately prior to this, Leah managed the #LiveOn campaign, which is an anti-suicide campaign aimed specifically towards people with disabilities. Leah has also served two terms as the Director of Public Relations for Little People of America (LPA), spearheading many efforts to destigmatize in media representation and empower Little People in their everyday lives. Finally, Leah has co-facilitated Her Power! for a number of years, which is a program aimed at helping disabled high school girls dismantle the stereotypes that the media places on disabled women.

Ilka Riddle, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati and the Director UCCEDD. In her role as Director, she is responsible for providing guidance and leadership to staff and community partners for improving the health and lives of children and adults with disabilities on the local, state and national level, collaborate with internal and external partners, write reports, conduct research and policy work, apply for and secure state and federal funding and expand the impact of her UCEDD and the national network of UCEDDs across the country.