By: Jan Rosemergy
Terri (Mary Theresa) Urbano, M.P.H., Ph.D., died peacefully on Aug. 27, surrounded by her family. As a teacher, community service professional, clinician, university professor, and an administrator, Terri devoted her career to advancing health care for children and adults with disabilities.
Before joining Vanderbilt University in 1999, Dr. Urbano worked for 20 years at the University of Miami Mailman Center in various leadership roles, including as Acting Director of the Mailman Center and Director of its Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) training program. At Vanderbilt University, she served initially as Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning in the School of Nursing, and then joined the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in 2005 as Director of Health, Director of Training, and Director of the Vanderbilt LEND.
In her roles as director of LEND programs at two different universities and a Dean in the School of Nursing, Terri demonstrated a remarkable ability to bring together teachers from a variety of disciplines and professions to meet the learning needs of trainees and other health care professionals. Over her career, she was equally dedicated to providing disability-related training for practicing professionals in Maternal and Child Health and other areas of public health.
Terri’s contributions in community service to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families were exemplary. Early in her career in the 1970s, she worked as a public health nurse and public health nursing supervisor in Illinois and Florida. For over 15 years she served as Director of the Nursing Division of the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami. Just prior to moving to Vanderbilt, she was the Coordinator for Training in the Mailman Center for Child Development.
Terri was named Director of the Vanderbilt LEND in 2008. She directed all phases of the program and coordinated it with five other universities. Under her leadership, the breadth and depth of the educational experiences expanded. She reorganized the core seminar series to provide broad exposure to the medical, education, advocacy, and public health aspects of the field of developmental disabilities. She worked with the LEND leadership team to design a new leadership seminar series that provided training on being a change agent, negotiation skills, designing a budget, and addressing ethical and cultural issues in clinical settings. She worked with the Chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences to obtain additional grant support to train audiology students. In collaboration with the State of Tennessee and its Title V agencies, she designed and implemented a novel teleconferencing series that provided monthly seminars to Public Health Nurses and other state healthcare employees at over 35 Title V sites. During her tenure as Director, the Vanderbilt LEND received exceptional evaluations from its trainees and faculty alike.
Autism has been an increasing public health concern, and Terri had notable accomplishments in this area, as well. She succeeded in obtaining LEND supplemental funding for autism training and educational materials. Free materials were developed for parents, in Spanish as well as in English, and for health care providers. Terri provided exemplary leadership by involving young faculty members with ASD and DD expertise and LEND trainees in selecting and writing products, and in having products reviewed during development by families, autism and DD experts, and health care professionals. She also provided leadership for the TN Autism Act Early Summit Team.
As colleagues, it was a privilege and joy to work with Terri. She was unassuming yet superbly capable. She was tireless in her dedication and commitment to the Vanderbilt LEND and UCEDD programs, yet she also welcomed and respected the contributions of others. She fostered warm and dynamic professional relationships within the programs.
Terri was in the forefront of leaders in developmental disabilities teaching, training, and advocacy. She focused her many professional gifts on improving health and quality of life for children and adults with disabilities and providing supports for their families.
She will be deeply missed by colleagues and friends at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center; in Tennessee; and in the nation.
Last Updated: 8/28/2015 3:35:36 PM
Go to the news and video index