Zimmerman named Student Disability Resources executive director

August 09, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Leah Zimmerman, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator for Penn State’s affirmative action office, has been named the executive director of the University’s Student Disability Resources (SDR) office, effective Aug. 26.

“We’re extremely gratified to have someone with Leah’s expertise, experience and familiarity with Penn State to serve as our new Student Disability Resources executive director,” said Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for educational equity. “Leah will now be in a position to build on the office’s accomplishments, providing leadership and vision for Student Disability Resources across all of Penn State’s locations to support and advocate for students with disabilities.”

“I’m excited to return to SDR, where I began my career with Penn State,” Zimmerman said. “The combination of the responsibilities in my current role as ADA coordinator with my previous work with SDR has allowed me to serve all campus members with disabilities, including students, faculty, staff and visitors, and broaden my understanding of the University system and its stakeholders, operations and culture.”

She has been ADA coordinator at the University since 2017. In that role, Zimmerman led Penn State’s efforts to comply with federal and state disability laws; developed and delivered comprehensive disability and compliance trainings; directed the reasonable accommodation process for University employees; created a new position for a qualified American sign language interpreter for the affirmative action office; and conducted formal and informal investigations into allegations of disability-related discrimination.

Prior to becoming ADA coordinator, Zimmerman served as a campus liaison for SDR at the University from 2014 to 2017, where she supported disability coordinators across 23 Penn State locations and assisted students with varying disabilities and needs.

“My vision for SDR involves increasing the office’s visibility through its positive contributions toward advancing a campus culture that celebrates inclusion and diversity,” she said. “Superior service to students will always be our primary goal, and integral to that is building on the passion and unique skills that SDR staff members bring to their positions. We’re going to look at developing opportunities for fellowship for our students with disabilities; streamlining and broadening our services while collaborating with other units and programs to more quickly and more holistically serve our students; engaging different academic colleges and their faculty in research to better inform our practices; and bolstering our support of campus disability office for continuity and consistency of services.”

Zimmerman’s professional experience also includes serving as a program specialist with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs; an intellectual disability specialist with the Fairfax County Community Services Board in Fairfax, Virginia; an employment training specialist in the Virginia Department of Rehabilitation Services; a career evaluator at the Fairfax County Public Schools; and a vocational evaluator and vocational evaluator consultant for the Virginia Department of Rehabilitation Services.

She earned her doctorate in education and her master of arts in education and human development from George Washington University, and her bachelor of arts in psychology from Bucknell University.

Last Updated September 03, 2020