There is a clear and compelling need to approach equity, diversity, and inclusion not as problems to be solved,but rather as opportunities to be realized. The Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights and Assistance Act of 2000,states the need for cultural competence, specifically to ensure that supports and services “are provided in a manner that assure maximum participation and benefit for persons with IDD.” Cultural and linguistic competence (CLC) are evidence-based or proven practices that reduce disparities, advance diversity, and promote equity. Achieving CLC requires strong and informed leadership to spark the necessary changes within systems, organizations, and practice. It requires responding effectively to race, ethnicity, culture, and other intersecting identities in leadership development and opportunities. There is a need for leaders with the commitment, energy, knowledge, and skills to do the hard work of advancing and sustaining CLC in systems, organizations, and programs that develop policy, provide supports and services, conduct research, and advocate with persons with IDD and their families. It is important that leaders have the insight, courage, and skill to step out in the forefront of this complex set of dynamics and be the force to gather the collective will to make change. There are two distinct yet related challenges that continue to confront the IDD network: 1) the lack of capacity across all aspects of the network to develop, nurture, and support people who are prepared to lead efforts that advance and sustain CLC; and 2) there are few members of racial, ethnic, and cultural groups, including people with disabilities from these groups, presently occupying or being groomed to become leaders and assume leadership positions network-wide.

Plain Language Summary

Diversity, equity, and inclusion should not be seen as problems. Diversity, equity and inclusion should be seen as opportunities for all people, including persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). A federal law for persons with IDD requires cultural competence. This law says cultural competence helps to respect a person’s culture and language. This law is the Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights and Assistance Act, 2000. Cultural and linguistic competence or CLC help reduce disparities. CLC can help advance diversity and increase equity. There is a need for people with and without disabilities to take the lead to move CLC forward. The Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence created a Leadership Institute to meet this need. This article gives information about this national leadership institute .