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forward together strategic plan

Forward. Together.

As the world around us continues to change and evolve, it’s important that as a leading organization we follow suit. It’s with that mindset that the Board of Directors developed a strategy to push the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) forward. This new strategy continues to include our legacy of work, such as our hard-fought advocacy efforts and our commitment to being an inclusive organization. In addition, you will notice that we have identified some of the most vital priorities in our field and elevated them to the highest ranks of our work, such as addressing personnel shortages and ensuring that our community is equipped to serve a diverse body of students.

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Watch our presentation from CEC 2022 Convention & Expo:


Much of this plan is about you, the professionals who work to serve our students every day. It is about ensuring you have the appropriate resources. It is about showcasing, celebrating, and elevating the level of professionalism and dedication you bring to the workplace every day - it is not an accident that we chose to use “education professional” over “educator” in this plan. While drafting this plan, it was important to us that everything we addressed was inclusive of all of our community.


With each step we took, we gathered input and reviewed our drafts to ask the important question of “is everyone included?”



High-quality education that is inclusive and equitable for individuals with disabilities.



Cultivating, supporting, and empowering education professionals who work with individuals with disabilities by:

  • Advocating for education professionals and for individuals with disabilities, and/or gifts and talents
  • Advancing professional practice and scholarly research
  • Promoting diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility
  • Building networks, partnerships, and communities



  • Visionary Thinking
    Demonstrated by forward-thinking and courageous decision-making dedicated to excellence and influence in an evolving environment.
  • Integrity
    Demonstrated by ethical and responsive behavior, transparency, and accountability.
  • Inclusiveness
    Demonstrated by a commitment to diversity, caring, and respect for the dignity and worth of all individuals.



  • Nimbleness
    History is valued; continuous improvement is encouraged; governance structures are designed to be adaptive and representative of CEC members.
  • Organizing Effectiveness
    Commitment to implementing efficiencies, developing leaders, planning for long-term financial success, and using data to drive decision-making.
  • Valued Partnerships
    CEC Divisions, Units, Chapters, Affinity Groups, Community Organizations, and Corporate Partners are valued contributors to CEC strategy
facts about creation of strategic plan


Goals are high-level aspirations, while objectives provide a closer breakdown of how we will get there.


 Develop and support an effective and diverse workforce of special education professionals. 

  • Provide high-quality support to the pipeline of pre-service and early-career special education professionals
  • Define the standard for highly effective special education professionals to inform and guide special educator preparation programs
  • Support the retention of effective and diverse special education professionals
  • Increase awareness of and provide access to current research and strategies for application


 Intentionally embed diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility within CEC. 

  • Ensure internal systems position CEC to be a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible organization free of bias
  • Embed diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility in all public-facing work
  • Develop and support a diverse CEC membership
  • Deliver resources and tools to assist education professionals in serving a diverse body of individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents


 Increase the impact of CEC’s policy agenda for education professionals and for individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. 

  • Provide resources and content expertise to the White House, Department of Education, and other federal agencies
  • Maintain a strong legislative footprint with Congress
  • Convene and actively participate in education and disability coalitions
  • Develop and support a grassroots network of informed advocates


 Establish CEC as a globally recognized leader in the field of special education. 

  • Broaden CEC’s position as a premier partner organization
  • Enhance CEC’s value to current and potential members
  • Elevate and promote the work of education professionals who work with individuals with disabilities
  • Showcase and celebrate the diversity and expertise of CEC members


This plan is a living, breathing guidebook for how we believe CEC can best serve our members and the field as a whole over the next five years. In addition to what you see in this plan, the Board continues to build and evaluate success metrics that staff are using to operationalize this vision and mission. Your ongoing feedback and input are welcomed and needed as we implement this important work. In addition, now that we have approved and released this strategic plan, we will ensure that resources (both human and financial) are dedicated to ensuring it comes to fruition.


Finally, we want to thank you all for your commitment to supporting students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. And we want to thank you for your commitment to CEC. More than 2,500 individuals gave input to this plan throughout its creation and we would not be who we are or where we are without you! We are proud and excited to begin this important work that will help us evolve as we dive into our second century moving forward. Together.


Dennis Cavitt
2021 President

Danielle Kovach
2022 President
Jennifer Lesh
2020 President
Andrea Jasper
2023 President
Yvonne Bui
Chad Rummel
Executive Director
Terese Aceves
Joy Banks
Tachelle Banks
Rosalind Hall
William Hunter
Laural Jackson
Cindy Perras
Charmion Rush
Kareem Thompson
Benjamin Tillotson
Mitchell Yell


The Board would like to thank the various CEC staff leaders who lead key components of the strategic plan development, including: Laurie VanderPloeg, Jennifer Bullock, Brad Duncan, Annie Drinkard, Kuna Tavalin, and Judy Harrison. And special thanks to Lowell Applebaum and Jennifer Lipsey of Vista Cova for your guidance and facilitation in the process.

Last Updated:  26 January, 2022

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