Center for Leadership in Disability
“I have benefited a great deal from the knowledge, wisdom, love and experience of mentors at every stage of my career. Anything I have been fortunate enough to accomplish has been due to the energy that mentors have poured in to me. I want to work toward a vision of the world where people with disabilities are seen as wise and capable leaders. One of the things that must happen for this vision to become reality is that gifted emerging leaders with disabilities must be told that they have what it takes to lead and then people who are on a similar path must travel beside them. A mentor says, ‘you can do it, I believe in you’ and then says, ‘let’s go together.’ I feel a deep sense of gratitude for opportunities to work alongside young people with disabilities. My work with these leaders gives me hope communities that are being built.”
We are proud to induct Mark Crenshaw into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.
Since 2011, Mark Crenshaw has served as Director of Interdisciplinary Training at the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD), one of two centers funded as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in Georgia. CLD is housed within the School of Public Health at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Mark has a passion for training emerging leaders with and without disabilities to work collaboratively to build more responsive systems and a more just world. In his work as Georgia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (GaLEND) training director, Mark has had the great fortune to help form more than 170 students and fellows as leaders in health and healthcare, education, public policy, advocacy, and many other arenas. Mark’s former students serve in critical roles as leaders in state and national systems that positively impact the flourishing of children, youth, adults, and families affected by disabilities. Mark’s specific interests include the incorporation of mindfulness in the formation of leaders and supporting emerging disabled leaders to embrace their gifts and skills to build more inclusive communities.
Since 2017, Mark has participated on the core faculty of the AUCD (Association of University Centers on Disability) Leadership Academy. The purpose of the academy is to encourage emerging leaders with and without disabilities to clarify their commitment to justice for and with people with disabilities. The experience offers participants tools and skills to lead in new and innovative ways. The Leadership Academy has trained more that 70 leaders from all over the United States.
Prior to arriving at CLD, Mark worked in a variety of positions in non-profit and higher education. After graduating from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1999 with a Master of Theological Studies, Mark worked in disability services at Emory University and Georgia Perimeter College, facilitating accommodations for hundreds of students with disabilities during his time in those settings.
In 2001, Mark was given the opportunity to marry his passion for inclusion and disability rights with his background in religion and theological studies. As Director of the Interfaith Disability Network, Mark invited congregations and communities to participate in and continue sacred stories of inclusion and justice and to work for disability justice by collaborating across differences in race, religion, and ability. During Mark’s time with the Interfaith Disability Network from 2001 until 2011 he was able to build collaborative relationships with leaders and members of a wide diversity of congregations. He was a featured speaker at Temple Sinai, one of Atlanta’s largest synagogues, on Yom Kippur on two separate occasions and worked extensively with several masjids and Muslim organizations, including Sisters United in Human Service. In his role as Director of IDN Mark and volunteers with and without disabilities provided training and technical assistance to clergy and lay leaders from more than 1000 congregations and faith organizations. The work within diverse congregations also presented Mark with opportunities to work with leaders in formation and current leaders in congregational spaces to promote the full inclusion of people with disabilities in religious spaces.
The common theme across all of Mark’s teaching and mentoring has been centering the narratives of leaders with disabilities to help learners with and without disabilities understand what is possible when they collaborate to build more accessible and inclusive organizations.