College of Education and Health Professions

Disability and Health Staff

Vanessa has worked in the disability field for 25 years. Her early work began as a paid caregiver, service coordinator, special edu-cation consultant, and quality improvement coordinator. She has been the director and primary investigator of the Arkansas Disability and Health Program since 2002.

vanessa nehus
Principal Investigator: Vanessa Nehus


Vanessa Smith, Project Coordinator

Project Coordinator: Vanessa Smith

Vanessa has worked in the human services arena for 19 years with people who have mental illness and individuals with develop-mental disabilities. Before joining the Arkansas Disability and Health Program, Vanessa directed the develop-ment of training curriculum for Direct Support Professional, front line direct care staff working with individuals who have developmental disabilities.

Judy has 13 years experience in project coordination that involves issues impacting people with disabilities. She currently serves as Chair of Arkansas Can Do, Inc. and is instru-mental in the design of the statewide multimedia campaign to increase the positive perceptions of people with disabilities. She currently acts as liaison between the Arkansas Disabiltiy and Health Program and the Media sub-committee of Arkansas Can Do, Inc. which recently produced 4 public service announce-ments currently televised on Arkansas tele-vision stations.

Judy Young, disability promotion specialist

Disability Promotion Specialist:
Judy Young


Roberta Sick, Disability Specialist

Disability Specialist: Roberta Sick


Roberta has worked in the disability field for over 25 years with the last 13 being at Partners for Inclusive Communities. While at Partners she has been involved in a
number of training efforts that address the issues of preventing violence in the lives of people with disabilities, access to health care and access to services. This has included both training for professionals and for persons with disabilities. She has worked on a number of collaborations including the Disability and Health Program and the Violence Prevention and Disabilities Collaboration Project, a multi-agency collaboration committee to improving access and services for people with disabilities and people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. She as a strong working knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act, having served as the training coordinator for the Arkansas ADA Roundtable, the regional affiliate in Arkansas for the Southwest Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center.

Julie Petty graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and has been a leader in the self-advocacy movement in Arkansas and nationally for several years. In 1998, she established Arkansas People First and helped it grow statewide. She has organized several state conferences, served on boards and advisory councils related to disability policy, and co-developed a training curriculum for self-advocates. Julie joined the staff at Partners in March of 2009 where she works on various projects to educate people with disabilities and others. Julie is an accomplished self-advocate from Arkansas and was the President of SABE (Self Advocates Becoming Empowered) from 2006-2008.

Julie Petty

Disability Specialist: Julie Petty

Partners for Inclusive Communities