2019 Lee Henson Awards

The Lee Henson Award was created in honor of Mizzou’s former ADA Coordinator, Lee Henson, who died in 2014 after 20 years of service to the university.

Group photo of the 2019 Lee Henson Award recipients. Group is at the MU Student Center in front of a black curtain.
The 2019 recipients gather for a group photo at the conclusion of the ceremony. Photo by Ryan Gavin.

Congratulations to Emily Reuther, Dr. Bill Janes, Michael Edwards, Margee Stout, and Applied Behavioral Intervention Services at the Thompson Center! The Lee Henson Awards honor those who have:

Headshot of Lee Henson
Lee Henson served at Mizzou for 20 years, working to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Photo by Shane Epping.
  • Responded above and beyond to a particular disability inclusion or accessibility concern or need on campus;
  • Championed universal design to make Mizzou a more inclusive place for people with disabilities; and/or
  • Demonstrated and modeled a commitment over time to improving the inclusion of people with disabilities or the accessibility of Mizzou’s campus and programs.

These awards are announced every year during Celebrate Ability Week. Read on below to meet this year’s student, faculty, staff and organization recipients! Note: some entries have been lightly edited for grammar and style.

Emily Reuther

Headshot of Emily Reuther. Wearing a red sweater and a black coat over it with snow on the ground behind her.

Nominator: Alyson Garcia
Award category: Student

How long has the nominee been doing work that benefits people with disabilities? At least four years.

Please describe how this person has made a positive impact for individuals with disabilities at Mizzou.

Emily is the PHA accessibility committee chairwoman and the Vice President of Mizzou’s Disability Coalition.

Emily and friends posing in matching handkerchiefs. They are holding a puppy and are wearing Greek letters.

She worked tirelessly with Mizzou’s Greek Week this past year to make sure that they were accessible for all. She asked for subtitles on videos, made sure all places had accessible entrances and had them start counting the amount of people who show up to these events to help with crowd control for the coming years.

She has been a constant advocate for this community and has done more for them than I could even tell you.

Dr. Bill Janes

Headshot of Dr. Bill Janes wearing a gray suit with a yellow tie.

Nominator: Dianna Temple
Award category: Faculty

How long has the nominee been doing work that benefits people with disabilities? Dr. James has been on faculty at Mizzou since 2016, but he’s been an occupational therapist since 2011.

Please describe how this person has made a positive impact for individuals with disabilities at Mizzou.

Dr. Bill Janes is an Assistant Research Professor and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for the Occupational Therapy department at Mizzou. He is one of the most enthusiastic, intelligent people on campus.

Dr. Janes spends all of his time making a positive impact on people with disabilities and teaching students to do the same. He has started a 3-D printing lab in the occupational therapy department dedicated to creating adaptive equipment for people with disabilities. He is involved with the ALS clinic on the Health Science campus. He leads a team of occupational therapists to create and design dozens of practical pieces of adaptive equipment.

Dr. Bill Janes working with students at a table. One is wearing a gold mizzou shirt, the other is in a gray shirt.

For example, Dr. Janes adapted fingernail clippers, curling irons, can openers, head-scratchers, utensil holders, can openers, tweezers, and more to help with people ALS. He also uses 3-D technology and his background in electronics, to lead a group of students in a program called Go Baby Go which modifies toy ride-on electric cars for children under three with disabilities who are experiencing limited mobility.

Dr. Janes also collaborates with students from engineering, speech therapy, physical therapy, and art. He even devotes extra time to work with elementary, middle school, and high school students to teach them 3-D technology. He believes that 3-D technology and sharing that technology through Maker’s Making change will positively benefit people with disabilities and the students that are learning about these easily accessible accommodations both here at Mizzou and the greater community.

Michael Edwards

Headshot of Michael Edwards in a gray button down shirt.

Nominator: Martha Ott Jennings
Award category: Staff

How long has the nominee been doing work that benefits people with disabilities? Over 18 years.

Please describe how this person has made a positive impact for individuals with disabilities at Mizzou.

Mike Edwards has worked with the Great Plains ADA Center at the University of Missouri for over 18 years as a Network Services Specialist and Director of the ACTCP, (ADA Coordinator Training Certification Program) which he envisioned and brought to fruition.

This program is highly regarded by the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation research, the ADA National Network, US Access Board, Department of Justice, EEOC, and numerous other government, business, educational, and disability entities. Many entities are currently requiring certification for their ADA Coordinators.

Michael working at a booth, demonstrating ADA services on the screen of a laptop.

The goal of the program is to increase ADA knowledge and awareness and to increase direct ADA implementation in businesses and communities. Mike has developed online testing for the program, online training courses and organizes and implements at least two ACTCP conferences each year in various locations in the U.S. Two upcoming conferences will be in Charlotte and Phoenix.

Many of the over 2,000 members clamor to persuade him to come to their cities to provide training. Mike has managed the program so well that it has become self-funding, which allows the Great Plains ADA Center to assist small communities and underserved populations at nominal to no cost.

Margee Stout

Headshot of Margee Stout wearing a colorful top in an office.

Nominator: Mohamed Shahin
Award category: Staff

Please describe how this person has made a positive impact for individuals with disabilities at Mizzou.

Margee Stout is an executive assistant in the School of Social Work. Margee has always been proactive and mindful of issues impacting people with disabilities. Last year, she went above and beyond to make sure there’s a universal design restroom in Clark Hall.

My first contact with Margee was when she contacted the Office of Accessibility and ADA to schedule a visit to the newly constructed restroom to make sure all the fixtures were going to be mounted at the right usable heights.

In her effort to include individuals with disabilities in her department, she worked on installing LED lights to be more friendly for individuals with disabilities and reached out to me about including educational disability-related literature in the faculty and staff library.

Overall, I nominate Margee Stout for going above and beyond to include individuals with disabilities in her work environment and her effort to help the Office of Accessibility and ADA implement workplace accommodations for employees in her department.

Applied Behavioral Intervention Services at the Thompson Center

Group photo of ABIS at a restaurant in front of a brick wall on one side and window facing the street on the other.

Nominator: Lorraine Becerra
Award category: Faculty or Staff Group

How long has the nominee been doing work that benefits people with disabilities? Over four years.

Please describe how this person has made a positive impact for individuals with disabilities at Mizzou.

The Applied Behavioral Intervention Services (ABIS) team at the University of Missouri Thompson Center has provided behavioral treatment and support to individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related disabilities between the ages of 18 months and 22 years, since the center restructured in 2015. The ABIS team is comprised of six Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) overseen by the mentorship of Dr. Casey Clay in the Special Education Department.

The reorganization was aimed at expanding and diversifying the type of services provided through the center. The center’s expansion extended assistance to individuals who demonstrate severe problem behavior in the community, individuals who experience challenges in social situations, as well as teacher and parent education opportunities. Particularly notable, is that the team accepts generally underrepresented client populations, who might not otherwise have the resources to receive these services.

The direct services provided by the ABIS team encourages their clients to build the skills to prepare them for inclusive environments on campus and in the community of Columbia. In addition, the team also provides training and support for community organizations about increasing the success of individuals with a disability in those locations.

Through individualized and group trainings, the ABIS team has prepared different locations and individuals across Columbia to better serve populations with many types of abilities. Furthermore, the ABIS team oversees the clinical training for undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of special education and health sciences. Through these clinical training hours, the team provides education in evidence-based practices with the ultimate goal of preparing clients to be included within all settings. The team uses this mentorship model to teach their undergraduate and graduate students what it means to create inclusive environments, thereby changing the focus from their client’s “disabilities” to their “abilities.”

The research published by the members of this group has been disseminated nationally and internationally (through trainings across Russia and Brazil). Research projects have focuses on client considerate methods to decrease problem behavior, utilizing technology (i.e., virtual reality and asynchronous trainings) to increase efficient training for professionals, and skill acquisition procedures to increase the access to inclusive settings for clients.

Most recently, the team earned a small grant from the Association of Behavior Analysis International, to expand their work on creating active shooter response training materials, specifically describing ethical considerations and procedures for educators who work with people with disabilities. Given the occurrence of active shooter events in the United States, ABIS team members have developed easily disseminatable asynchronous trainings describing how active shooter response procedures may be designed differently for educators, who must not only protect themselves, but also their clients who may experience additional challenges with communication, sensory, and mobility issues.

The work completed by all members of the Applied Behavioral Intervention Services (ABIS) team has helped hundreds of individuals within the Mizzou community continue to reach their full potential by implementing protocols facilitating inclusiveness. Their work focuses on teaching the individual with a disability, mentoring future clinicians and teachers to design inclusive learning environments, and conducting research to better provide best practice methods across the nation.