My main interest is in the international cooperation and international disability movement. My first international disability experience dated back to 1993 when I attended my first youth conference organized by European Muscular Dystrophy Association. This event changed my life and determined my dedication to the international disability movement. Seven years later, in 2000, I founded the Association of Students with Disabilities of Serbia and Montenegro and started my professional engagement in the fight for human rights of people with disabilities. With time my dreams and goals grew and few years later I was among few who founded Southeast European Network for Young People and Students with Disabilities and I was responsible for coordination and fundraising. At the same time, I had an opportunity to work with and to learn about the functioning of large world organizations, including: the Council of Europe, the European Disability Forum, World Bank and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. These unique opportunities have resulted in an extensive network of professional colleagues that I have built and maintained over the years. In addition, as a member of Steering committee for the SHARE SEE Southeast European regional project ( www.share-see.org ), I was part of the team to assist in developing, reviewing and evaluating projects by disability peoples’ organizations from Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. All these engagements resulted in reinforcement of my beliefs that only through international cooperation and exchange disability movement could really become unified and strong.
Currently, I am PhD student in the Disability Studies Program in the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago. For the last two years, while working on my Master thesis at the same department, I was an employee with the Institute on Disability and Human Development (IDHD), the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) for the state of Illinois. My MA thesis and planned PhD dissertation investigate higher education practices and recommendations for students with disabilities in the developing world.
My latest international experience was also the most valuable to me - my participation in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I believe that we are at the beginning of new era where we will cease to discriminate based on the cultural and other differences, but rather, to value the uniqueness and contributions of each individual. Any cosmopolitan will support the idea that culture is borderless, that it transcends all physical, sociological and economical borders. If we assume that there is such thing as disability culture, than we can argue that it can be unifying element between many nations worldwide and it can be employed to promote human rights globally. If we can enhance the understanding and energy behind the disability culture world wide, than many disabled activists will have more power to endure and to fight their fights. UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is powerful tool that can be used in this direction, and I would be privileged to give my contribution to this global project. I already took some steps in the promotion of this convention through lectures held at UIC and at York University, Toronto, Canada.
Professional/ Work Experience: 2006 – Present , Public Relations and Advocacy Coordinator at Institute on Disability and Human Development at University of Illinois at Chicago ( www.uic.edu/orgs/idhd ) Organizing advocacy efforts for persons with disabilities, coordinating media efforts to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the community, coordinating public relation for Institute and teaching classes and seminars on disability issues. Orchestrating Institute unique advocacy efforts. Responsible for managing Institute website, newsletter and other public relation activities. Preparing and delivering training to disability non-profit organizations.
2004 – 2006, Research Assistant at Institute on Disability and Human Development at University of Illinois at Chicago ( www.uic.edu/orgs/idhd ) Orchestrating Institute unique advocacy efforts. Responsible for managing Institute website, newsletter and other public relation activities. Preparing and delivering training to the disability non-profit organizations. Assisting in the multiple projects of the Institute.
2004 – 2006, Research Assistant at Advocacy and Empowerment for Minorities with Disabilities (A & E) at University of Illinois at Chicago ( www.uic.edu/orgs/empower ) Participate in Choices in transition project. Involved with all aspects of the research process, including: data collection, data analysis, and production of the final report. Responsible for Internet presentation and all design related tasks for A & E.
2000 – 2004, Executive Director of Association of Students with Disabilities of Serbia and Montenegro ( www.adsyu.org )
Director of the Association, responsible for realization of Association’s project in front of donors and Association. Creator of Association’s strategy. Team manager. Responsible for all projects and its deadlines. Responsible for performances and results of all employees. Front man of the ADS in front of the media, partners, Universities in Serbia and Montenegro, students, donors… International communication and cooperation. Fundraising. Work with media. Lecturing.
2004 – Present Consultant for Association of Students with Disabilities of Serbia and Montenegro ( www.adsyu.org ) Consulting, fundraising, strategic planning and international cooperation.
2005 – Present President of the UIC Disabled Student Union, Organizing, coordinating group and meetings, strategic planning and leadership.Presenting the group.
2005 – 2006, Chairperson/Member of Advisory Board on the project Youth Information Education and Leadership for Developmental Disabilities (YIELDD) – Access Living, Chicago, Illinois, Strategic planning for the project. Decision making process.
2005 – Present, Representative of Department of Disability and Human Development, (University of Illinois at Chicago) to the Dean's Student Leadership Council, College of Applied Health Sciences
2005 – 2006, Member of Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, University of Illinois at Chicago, for the 2005-06 year
1999 – 2001, Coordinator and contact person of Yugoslav Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Youth Group
Voluntary work. Coordinating group. Organizing attending to the international conferences, training courses and seminars. International communication and cooperation
1995 -2001, A member of the Presidency of the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Voluntary work in various events concerning the improve of the life of disabled people. Active role in decision-making and running of Association.
Geo Interest: South East Europe
GDN Subject Interests: Poverty Reduction | Poverty and Health | Public Health | Human Rights | Intergovernmental Organizations | NGOs and Civil Society | Peace & Peacekeeping | Post Conflict Reconstruction