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Human Development Institute

University Center for
Excellence in Disabilities

Harold Kleinert with white hair and beard smiling at the camera wearing a pink shirt and blue tie.

HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Harold Kleinert

Published: June 5, 2019

I was absolutely blessed to have had the opportunity to work at HDI.  I cannot imagine a better organizational mission than that of HDI for what I had hoped for my own career  – to work with leaders in the field at both the state and national levels; to partner with families, self-advocates, teachers, and other professionals on the front lines of quality services;  and to have had the chance to have taught a wonderful set of students here at UK. —Harold Kleinert, HDI Director Emeritus

How long were you with HDI and what was your role?

I started at HDI over 30 years ago and served as the Associate Project Director for the Kentucky Statewide Systems Change Project for Students with Severe Disabilities from 1987-1989. I then served as the Project Director for Kentucky Statewide Systems Change Project for Students with Severe Disabilities, Personal Futures Planning for Individuals with Deaf-Blindness, and Kentucky Alternate Portfolio System between 1989-1994. In 1994, I became the Lead Instructor for the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Education Program and the Training Director for HDI, where I served for 6 years. Then, I became the HDI Executive Director in 2000 and was appointed in 2010 as a full professor with tenure in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. I served as Executive Director for over 15 years and now continue to work on projects as a Director and Professor Emeritus.

During your time at HDI, of which accomplishments are you most proud?

I’m most proud of the state and national growth of HDI; our work to impact national educational policy; our students and research assistants; and our relationships with families and self-advocates in a broad array of projects (HDI Consumer Advisory Council, Brighter Tomorrows, Graduate Certificate, etc.)

Looking back, can you please share with us a fun or fond moment you had at HDI?

HDI Christmas parties and talent shows in the old Porter Church building, All-Staff meetings

Do you have any advice you would like to share with current and future staff and students at HDI?

We have a tremendous array of life-span projects in which students and staff can become involved. There are opportunities for sharing what we have learned through training and teaching, doing research, and writing about the impact of our work.

What do you think the future holds for HDI?

Greater presence both within (e.g., our Graduate and Undergraduate Certificates) and outside the university in terms of training students, and building projects/initiatives that have a direct impact upon the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families