United Cerebral Palsy has been emboldened by executives who have served affiliates throughout its more than six decades. As we survey the network, we recognize that many in this pool of committed leaders will follow the national trend and retire in the next decade. Recognizing that the ongoing strength of the UCP affiliate network relies on nurturing a new generation of leaders. The Emerging Leaders Academy was founded in 2012 to expand and develop the skills of promising nonprofit managers in the UCP affiliate network. Selected participants spend a year in leadership training and mentorship with established leaders throughout the UCP network.
Through the generosity of 501 (c) Agencies Trust, UCP will offer scholarships to 10 emerging leaders, helping defray the cost of registration and travel.
Brockel, JD, is the Executive Director for UCP of Michigan. She serves on advisory boards for the Michigan Children’s Special Health Care program, Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, Wayne State University Development Disabilities Institute and various research studies at the University of Michigan Cerebral Palsy Program. Previously she was the founding director of Law Access New Mexico and was a commissioner on the New Mexico Access to Justice Commission and was Co-Chair of the State Bar of New Mexico Legal Services and Programs Committee. She was an attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality in Toledo, Ohio and served as the Executive Director for AIDS Survival Project in Atlanta, GA. She graduated cum laude from Georgia State University College of Law.
Elias has served as Project Manager of UCP of the North Bay since December 2007. She graduated from Hansel Business College in Marin County and is in the process of getting her Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification. Her career in administration has included 3½ years as Marketing & Communication Manager at NutriHarmony and 7 years as Project Manager at Charles Schwab & Company. As Project Manager for UCP of the North Bay, Elias manages all strategies, next steps, and progress with their Board of Directors and Board Committees, as well as with the leadership teams and supervisors at each program site: Cypress School, WineBev Services, and Gone For Good. The scope of her work includes serving over 500 children and adults with developmental disabilities, 100 full-time staff, and 50 volunteers. Her extensive experience with managing both small and large projects is evident in her ability to plan, organize, and implement the many recreation activities and special events that are offered at UCP of the North Bay. She has designed four agency websites while working with the UCP National Office, and continues to design all agency marketing and promotional materials. Elias is the parent of an adult son with a developmental disability who lives and works in the community. She has also raised two daughters and lives with her husband in San Rafael, California. She is an avid bicyclist and participant in fundraising events supporting a variety of causes.
Fagin holds a master’s degree in speech language pathology from St. Louis University and has spent her 28-year career in nonprofit disability services. Her early vocation focused on autism, where she ultimately grew into the position of Executive Director at Childhaven, a certified school for young children with autism. In 1999, she joined the team of Easter Seals Missouri as the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. She played an instrumental and lead role in the Easter Seals and UCP Heartland merger in 2008. Today as the Vice President of Program Services for UCP Heartland, Fagin leads the agency’s Children’s, Residential, Adult Day, Employment and Family Support Services in St. Louis, Central Missouri and Southwestern Illinois. Throughout her career, she has served as a clinical adjunct teacher for Washington University, a professional consultant for educators and families, President of the St. Louis Respite Coalition and as an appointed member and Vice Chair of the Missouri Governor’s Council on Disabilities.
Niemann, Development Coordinator at UCP of Greater Kansas City, received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Master in Business Administration at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. While she has professionally only been in the nonprofit field since July 2012, she has been a regular volunteer in a myriad of organizations since she was 12 years old. Over the past 9 years, her volunteer efforts have focused on fundraising, chairing events, and public speaking. Niemann’s affinity to UCP’s mission of “Life Without Limits” rings close to her heart, as her daughter has cerebral palsy. In addition to raising friends and funds for UCP of Greater Kansas City, she enjoys her three children and triathlons.
Simons is the Chief Development Officer with UCP of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (UCPLA) overseeing the community outreach, marketing and fundraising for the affiliate, in addition providing development oversight and support for UCPLA’s subsidiary, UCP Wheels for Humanity. Building on a versatile management career spanning over 20-years with for-profit and nonprofit organizations, Simons brings innovative marketing, business development and fundraising program experience to UCPLA. Before joining UCPLA, her more recent experience building and expanding fundraising and marketing programs were with New Roads School and the John Wayne Cancer Institute. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a Speech and Hearing Science major, part of her academic experience included a fulfilling internship with The Arc of Santa Barbara. Simons finds it rewarding to be working with an organization that brings her back to her passion to help children and adults with developmental disabilities. When she is not fundraising, she and her husband enjoy spending time with their three children and two dogs.
Supnet has been in program development for nine years managing multiple grants and contracts in parent education, family services, information technology, communications, and community development block grants. His background has been in computers and he enjoys the challenge of incorporating that with assistive technology and communications. His primary responsibility is program development and grant writing. Supnet also manages the technology and communications aspects of the organization. His recent involvement in marketing and community relations has allowed Suponet to integrate all of his experiences in developing quality services using a nontraditional approach.
Leigh Harrington Uqdah, M.Ed., is The Director of Individual and Family Support for UCP Association of Berkshire County’s, Pittsfield and North Adams, MA offices. She obtained a Bachelor's degree in English from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and a Master's in Education from Cambridge College. Following 2 years as an Educator and Docent Coordinator for The Berkshire Museum, Uqdah joined UCP’s staff in 2006. Her responsibilities include supervising and overseeing all aspects of the intake process, adult foster care program, adult and children’s activities, which promote general educational advocacy and skill building, family support center, school contracts and daily interaction with families, individual served, community services and funding sources.
Wheeler serves as Vice President of Administrative Services at UCP of Mobile. He is privileged to work for the agency in multiple areas: business development, program and agency marketing, donor development, administration, and special events management. Wheeler has an extensive background in sales and marketing, facilities, and personnel management. Prior to joining UCP of Mobile in 2008, he served as Southwest Regional Manager for Life Systems, Inc. – a national provider of medical equipment and diabetic supplies. In addition, he held positions as General Manager of the Kinston Indians (Class A Advanced affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) and Assistant General Manager of the Savannah Sand Gnats (Class A affiliate of the Montreal Expos). In 1999, he graduated from the University of South Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with specialization in Sport & Event Marketing.