Picture of Kimberly R. Mills

The Natural Hazards Center is pleased to announce Kimberly Mills as the recipient of our inaugural Disability and Disasters Award. Mills has spent more than two decades serving people with disabilities in the Virgin Islands in several capacities, including in the context of disasters.

“Dr. Mills’ strong commitment to advancing and supporting the area of disability and disasters stood out, even among all of the other highly impressive and qualified applicants,” said Candace Evans, a Natural Hazards Graduate Research Assistant and co-chair of the award committee.

Mills is the executive director for the Virgin Islands Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VIUCEDD). Her research and community priorities include best treatment practices for autism spectrum disorders, technical assistance and evaluation, the study of phenomenon surrounding the school-to-prison pipeline, cultural and linguistic competence through a behavioral analytic lens, disability employment, health disparities research, and emergency preparedness.

“I found her work at the VIUCEDD after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 inspiring,” emphasized Melissa Villarreal, committee member for the award and Graduate Research Assistant. “She organized a fundraising campaign that generated more than $7,000 to purchase emergency radios for those who are deaf and hard of hearing. The award committee agreed this was representative of the type of leadership and service that Dr. Mills exhibits in the area of disability and disasters.”

The Natural Hazards Center recently established the Disability and Disasters Award to recognize those who advance and support the area of disability and disasters with their research, practice, or service. The award was made possible thanks to the generous contribution of an anonymous donor.

As the first recipient of the award, Mills will receive financial support to attend the 2021 Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop. In addition, Mills will have travel and registration costs covered for the next in-person Workshop.

“Because she has never attended the Workshop before, we are so excited that Dr. Mills will be a part of this year’s gathering,” Heather Champeau, also a co-chair for the award committee and Graduate Research Assistant. “We look forward to having her participate and learning more from her wide-ranging work.”