Derrick K. Willis, MPA, is the executive director of Iowa’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) within University of Iowa Health Care.

He has served as the interim director of the UCEDD since January 2019. Willis has been instrumental in advancing the UCEDD’s outreach to under-served populations since joining Iowa’s UCEDD as associate director in August 2019. He has led diversity efforts for the UCEDD, and the successful continuation of the state’s Money Follows the Person program. Dr Willis will be mentoring Archy Gomba of Tanzania. Archy’s project aims to build the capacity of people with disabilities living in rural areas. 


The University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) is located in Iowa City, Iowa and is one of a national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) that are officially recognized by the U.S. government.

The Center’s programs advance inclusion in numerous areas of life, including employment. As one of the United States’ foremost centers for state-level inclusive employment, the Iowa UCEDD is deeply involved with several major public initiatives that offer valuable lessons for advocates who seek to implement innovative projects that will dismantle employment barriers for people with disabilities in East Africa. These programs include the State Employment Leadership Network, Employment First Leadership Mentoring Program, Kessler Foundation Employment Grant, and Money Follows the Person (MFP).

The Iowa UCEDD has experience with cross- cultural partnerships and advising practitioners who work in under-resourced communities outside the mainland United States. They have also hosted a student from Uganda in the past which made them eager to share lessons from their center with a Professional Fellow who shares their passion for ensuring people with disabilities can access equitable inclusive employment.