NEWS | May 4, 2021

MIND Institute honored by Chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts (video)

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The UC Davis MIND Institute has been honored with a Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community. The honor is a result of extraordinary efforts by MIND Institute leadership, faculty, staff and trainees to expand diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of their work, research and patient care.

Renetta Garrison Tull, UC Davis vice chancellor of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), presented the award to a group representing the MIND Institute during a virtual ceremony last week.

The award was presented during a virtual ceremony April 28.

“We really appreciate this recognition,” said MIND Institute Director Leonard Abbeduto. “We’ve been committed to DEI work for a long time, but last year the violence against people of color really made us more reflective and energized and led us to expand our efforts.”

The MIND Institute has a history of commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, including training programs such as RISE-UP, for undergraduates pursuing careers to serve historically underrepresented groups and who are mentored by faculty members.

It’s important for us to continue developing a diverse pipeline of future leaders in the disability field,” said Janice Enriquez, an associate clinical professor in developmental and behavioral pediatrics who chairs the MIND Institute’s newly created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “Faculty mentor these talented students, have a presence in our community and strive to provide equitable care for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.”

“We’ve established processes and mechanisms to keep DEI always at the forefront of what we do, and to recognize that it’s an ongoing process with no real endpoint.”

— Leonard Abbeduto
MIND Institute director

More recently, the MIND Institute has redoubled its efforts by supporting the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion’s racial healing circles, organizing book clubs and training staff, as well as seeking deep reflection aimed at embedding diversity, equity and inclusion into its mission and structure. There is also a push for trainees at all levels to understand the social determinants of health, as well as a new partnership with the Transformative Justice in Education Center to address disability at the intersection of multiple cultural identities.

“All parts of the organization have gotten behind us – faculty, staff, trainees, our National Council of Visitors, which raises money for us - all have been energized and really motivated,” noted Abbeduto. “We’ve established processes and mechanisms to keep DEI always at the forefront of what we do, and to recognize that it’s an ongoing process with no real endpoint.”

Many MIND Institute faculty members have also commented on another, welcome benefit of the expanded efforts.

For the full list of this year's award recipients, see the Dateline feature.

“As we’ve engaged in DEI work, it’s really brought us together as a community,” said Abbeduto. We communicate more. We know each other better, and I think we have really pulled together and are more cohesive as an organization.”

Watch the full virtual awards presentation here. The MIND Institute section begins at about 41:00.

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif. was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and potential prevention of neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at