Barbara Leach is a family support specialist and special projects coordinator with the Family Support Program, at the UNC School of Social Work. She has more than 30 years of personal and professional experience advocating for families with children who have Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and other special needs.
She served as project coordinator for two successful Family Support 360 Projects of National Significance, which were funded by the U.S. Administration on Developmental Disabilities. A key component of these projects was the use of a “Family Navigator” to assist families to identify family-driven goals, develop plans, and support families in goal achievement. In addition, Family Navigators facilitated access to formal and informal services and resources and modeled skills needed for individual and family advocacy and empowerment. Barbara played a key role in developing the Family Navigator role and job description that the Family Support 360 Projects used across the country.
Barbara is also an experienced trainer and facilitator who has made numerous state and national presentations and conducted workshops on family-centered practice, self-advocacy, self-determination, family/provider partnership and collaboration. She is the recipient of the 2019 Excellence in Community Engagement Award.