March 21, 2019  

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Former Institute for Disability Studies Staffer Wins Leadership Award

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Vicki Killingsworth, right, is presented the 2010 Leadership in Advocacy Award by Dr. Tamar Heller, president of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. (Submitted photo)

Vicki Killingsworth, a retired staff member of the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) at The University of Southern Mississippi was recognized with the 2010 Leadership in Advocacy Award by the Association of University Centers on Disability at its annual conference award gala in Washington, D.C.

The Leadership in Advocacy Award is presented annually to an outstanding individual who has exhibited exceptional leadership and self-advocacy skills in the area of developmental disabilities.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized with such a distinguished group of advocates, however, I feel it is our duty and responsibility to assist others in making our communities a better place for everyone, whether through housing or community resources,” said Killingsworth. “As citizens, we all have the responsibility to make our world a better place.”

Killingsworth, who worked at IDS from 1994-2004, was recognized for “the significant impact” of the Home of Your Own program (HOYO) she founded in 1997 in Mississippi and her “commitment, dedication, perseverance, persistence and leadership within an organization to further housing for low-income families with disabilities in Mississippi communities.”

“Because of Vicki’s dedication and tenacity, there are more than 400 individuals with disabilities and their families living in 55 counties who have become homeowners through the HOYO program,” said Dr. Royal Walker, IDS executive director. “This award is a great accomplishment.”

Killingsworth is past-president of Living Independence for Everyone (LIFE) of Mississippi and the Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities. Since her retirement, she has provided technical assistance and training to city governments and organizations, particularly in the areas of homeownership, consulting on ADA issues, fair housing, spinal cord/traumatic brain injury trust funds, home and vehicle modifications and Medicaid waivers.

For more information about the Institute for Disability Studies at Southern Miss visit