The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) has announced that Barbara Kleist will receive AAIDD’s Policy Award for 2023 for her outstanding contributions to the field. The award will be presented to her at the 147th AAIDD Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh in June.
Kleist is the program director for entrepreneurial and development programs at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration. She received her M.Ed. in recreation park and leisure studies from the University of Minnesota and her J.D. from Hamline University School of Law.
Kleist is co-director of DirectCourse—online curricula for life in community. Her work focuses on state and federal projects to improve community services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Her current projects include leading training and technical assistance efforts in federal and state policy development focused on identifying best practices for improving direct support workforce stability across long-term services and supports and Medicaid funded systems.
She is currently a member of the Minnesota Disability Law Center Advisory Committee, WINGS MN, and the Learning Community for Person Centered Practices, and chair of the Legal Process and Advocacy Network of the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD).
Kleist is a licensed attorney with Minnesota State Bar with 30 years of experience providing counsel and support to self-advocates and family members on a variety of topics including conflict resolution, access to home- and community-based services and supports, alternatives to guardianship, supported decision making and person-centered practices. Her relationship with a sibling provides the foundation for Kleist’s commitment to the civil and human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.