Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome Hires Internationally Recognized Education Specialist Patricia McVay

Education expert is a unique addition to research institute


AURORA, CO. — Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome (the Institute) at the University of Colorado School of Medicine adds an internationally recognized education leader to its brain trust of scientists and clinicians. Patricia “Patti” McVay, MS (Education, Special Education), will join the Linda Crnic Institute as the Director of Education, and will also accept an academic appointment in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. McVay will start on August 1, 2011.

The Institute’s executive director, Ed McCabe, M.D., PhD. says the creation of the unique position on his “dream team” may not be the obvious choice for the cutting edge Institute, but one that makes sense.  “We have gathered some of the finest minds to create a 360° view of Down syndrome,” says McCabe.

“We are primarily researchers and physicians, but the addition of Patti McVay, a champion of inclusion in the classroom, gives us yet one more way to be involved in the lives of people with Down syndrome.

It is the school system that advanced our population’s social acceptance in the last twenty years. We intend to push it further with the help of Ms. McVay, an advocate and expert in this field.”

McVay will assist with the support and development of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for children seen in the Anna and John J Sie Center for Down Syndrome (Sie Center) at the Children’s Hospital Colorado.  She will consult with the Sie Center’s multidisciplinary team and will be involved in content development and training in evidence-based inclusionary practices. In addition, McVay will provide support to local districts and schools interested in improving their inclusive practices.

“Taking this new position will allow me to speak to many more children and their parents,” says McVay. “It’s an opportunity for me to amplify my advocacy and spread my experience among a wider audience, going beyond the classroom to a global platform.”

“Patti will be a voice that speaks both to parents and to teachers,” says Michelle Sie Whitten, executive director of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (GDSF), the fundraising arm of the Institute. “She will bring real life experience to an academic setting as well as communicate with the public about the successes and further potential of inclusionary education.”

“The Crnic Institute’s commitment to improving the lives of all people with Down syndrome will be strengthened by the addition to our faculty of this international leader in education, adds Sie Whitten. “This bold move adds yet another unique feature to the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome.”

Patricia McVay: Academic and Professional Background

McVay received her Associate’s Degree in Education from Hartnell Community College in Salinas, California, her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a Severely Handicapped Certificate from Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon, and her Master’s of Science Degree in Education, Special Education from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

She served as a paraprofessional and high school teacher of students with severe disabilities and inclusion consultant for child-centered team development. McVay served as special education administrator for school districts, providing consulting services to develop inclusive programs for students 5-21 years of age and to facilitate school reform.  She has also been an elementary and post- secondary school principal, providing her with leadership in general education. In her work, she built strong collaborative teams that included families and general and special education staff, such as teachers, psychologists and paraprofessional educators.

McVay speaks nationally and internationally on inclusive best practices.  She has received numerous honors and awards, including the Council for Exceptional Children Outstanding Educator, the Oregon ARC Professional of the Year, the Graduate School of Education Community Partner for Portland State University where she served as an adjunct faculty member, a Partner in the Special Education Research Organization in Hokkaido, Japan, and, most recently, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Award of Excellence in Education in April, 2011.  Following each of two days of workshops organized by GDSF and the Crnic Institute, she received standing ovations.  These workshops led to a mutual interest in Patti and the Crnic Institute joining together to foster inclusion and school reform.

About the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome

The Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome is the first medical and research institute with the mission to provide the best clinical care to people with Down syndrome, and to eradicate the medical and cognitive ill effects associated with the condition. Established in 2008, the Crnic Institute is a partnership between the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Children’s Hospital Colorado.  Headquartered on the Anschutz Medical Campus, the Crnic Institute includes the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at the Children’s Hospital Colorado.  It partners both locally and globally to provide life-changing research and medical care for individuals with Down syndrome.  The Crnic Institute is made possible by the generous support of the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, and relies on the Global Down Syndrome Foundation for fundraising, education, awareness and government advocacy.  It is a research and medical-based organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.

About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation


The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public non-profit 501(c)(3)  dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy.  Formally established in 2009, the Foundation’s primary focus is to support the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the US committed to research and medical care for people with the condition. Fundraising and government advocacy that corrects the alarming disparity of national funding for people with Down syndrome is a major short-term goal.  The Foundation organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show – the single largest annual fundraiser benefitting people with Down syndrome.  Programmatically the Foundation organizes and funds many programs and conferences including the Dare to Play Football and Cheer Camps, Global Down Syndrome Educational Series, and Global Down Syndrome Multi-Language Resource Project.  The Foundation is an inclusive organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.

About the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The school is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. To learn more about the medical school’s care, education, research and community engagement, please visit its web site. For additional news and information, please visit the University of Colorado newsroom.