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About Us

​Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure and pride that our faculty, staff and Advisory Council provide information about JFK Partner’s mission, goals, history and programs. We recently celebrated our 50th Anniversary as a center that has dedicated itself to improving the lives of people with developmental disabilities. We continue to focus on interdisciplinary leadership training, as well as family and person centered services, clinical care, community collaboration, system change, research, and dissemination. We are extremely grateful to the individuals, families, community, and university partners who have shared in our endeavors, and for the wonderful stewardship provided by our past Director, Dr Cordelia Robinson. We look forward to continued collaborative efforts with our partners as we work to fulfill our mission.

Sandra L. Friedman, MD, MPH
William K. Frankenburg Research Professor
Director, JFK Partners
Section Head, Developmental Pediatrics
University of Colorado School of Medicine
​Our Mission
The mission of JFK Partners is to promote the independence, inclusion, contribution, health, and well-being of people with developmental disabilities and special health care needs and their families through consumer, community, and university partnerships.
At the core of this mission is a commitment to family and person-centered, community-based, and culturally competent programs and services. This mission is accomplished through the pursuit of excellence in education and training, consultation, technical assistance, direct service, research, program development, policy analysis, and advocacy.
The Goals of JFK Partners
  • To provide quality interdisciplinary and disciplinary training to individuals who will assume leadership positions in the disability, special health care needs, and service communities;
  • To provide a range of exemplary clinical services to people with developmental disabilities and special health care need originating in childhood.
  • To collaborate with consumers, community resources, and state programs to develop innovative community-based demonstration projects, system level interventions, and educational offerings;
  • To conduct research that generates knowledge about developmental disabilities and special health care needs and to evaluate the effectiveness of individual and system level interventions; and
  • To disseminate information that promotes this mission.

Since inception in 1968, JFK Partners has contributed to the training of hundreds of professionals who now make their homes in Colorado, and also around the nation and the world. Those trained represent a number of disciplines which contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of persons with developmental disabilities and special health care needs and their families not only in Denver and Colorado, but nationally and internationally. In 1966, under the leadership of Dr. John Conger, Dr. C. Henry Kempe, and Dr. Donough O’Brien, a multidisciplinary clinic was founded within the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. When federal funding became available to assist in building interdisciplinary clinical training and research centers in developmental disabilities, CU successfully applied for that funding with support from Colorado’s Governor and legislature, the Colorado ARC, and the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation.

The JFK Child Development Center and B.F. Stolinsky Lab building at 8th and Birch on the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) campus was dedicated in 1968. Programmatic support for JFK originally came from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the Colorado legislature through the CU School of Medicine, and the National Institute for Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) for the Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (MRDDRC). In 1972, core support from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) was added.

The underlying rationale for the federal support for these centers was the need for community-based as opposed to institution based diagnostic treatment centers for children with mental retardation and related disabilities. In 1968, twenty such centers were founded nationally. The training philosophy was based upon the assumption that the children and families to be assisted would benefit from professionals who received their training in an interdisciplinary clinical context.

In addition to its core programmatic support, JFK Partners has had funding for many different projects. Over the years a number of these projects originally located at the JFK Center at 8th and Birch have moved to other community locations. Beginning in 1993, JFK Partners expanded to include a number of clinical, training, demonstration, and research projects from within the University of Colorado Health Services Center and the state agency collaboration known as RMRTI. In 1998, the name JFK Partners: Promoting Families, Health and Development was adopted as the official name of this interdepartmental center of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver. In 2007, JFK Partners moved to the Anschutz Medical Campus where it now resides in the Education 2 South Building on the 5th Floor, 13121 E. 17th Ave., C234, Aurora, Colorado 80045.

​JFK Partners Advisory Council

How can you work with JFK Partners to improve the lives of people with disabilities?

People with disabilities and their families are at the heart of how we plan, complete, and evaluate our activities. We also rely on a broad range of professionals, organizations and agencies to bring about community-wide change.

The JFK Advisory Council is one of the ways we involve self and family advocates, agencies and organizations. The Council meets 4 times a year and supports our work in the following ways:

  • Serve as a link to individuals with disabilities and their families, as well as organizations that support them
  • Encourage others to become involved with the UCEDD
  • Offer suggestions about critical areas of need that should be addressed through future programs, projects or activities.

The JFK Advisory Council is in accordance with the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, PL 106-402, (DD Act).

Who belongs to the JFK Advisory Council?

The Council has at least 15 members at any given time; more than half are consumers -- people with a disability or the family member of a person with a disability. The remaining members represent agencies and organizations that provide services, supports or advocacy for people with disabilities and their families. Members are chosen to represent a wide cross-section of Colorado’s disabilities community.

Current Co-Chairs:

Brian Bernard, Self-Advocate Representative (2015-17)

Yvette Plummer Burkhalter, Family Advocate Representative (2017-19)

How can I apply to join?

If you’re interested in applying, please contact:

Tracy Price-Johnson
JFK Partners
13121 E. 17th Ave., C234
Aurora, CO 80045


Developmental Disability Network

The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Network was established to provide leadership for implementation of the federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. Three organizations are mandated in the act:

  • Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council
  • The Legal Center (Protection & Advocacy)
  • JFK Partners, Colorado’s University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD)

These three organizations have a common goal and purpose: “…to assure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life, through culturally competent programs.”

Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council
The Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council is made up of citizens who care about the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities. This body, appointed by the Governor, is made up of 24 people. The Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, a federal law, requires that 60% of Council members be people with developmental disabilities or family members of people with developmental disabilities.

The Legal Center
The Legal Center is Colorado’s Protection and Advocacy organization. The Legal Center strives to protect the human, civil and legal rights of people with mental and physical disabilities, people with HIV, and older people throughout Colorado. The Legal Center's primary goal is to open up the legal system to those who would otherwise be unable to voice their needs because of the complexity of the service bureaucracy, their disability or because they are unable to act on their own behalf.

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

JFK Partners joins more than 100 universities and medical schools belonging to the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). This national network includes:

AUCD members represent every state and most territories in the United States. Because members are part of a national network, innovations can be quickly deployed and implemented in individual communities across the country. AUCD serves its members by supporting and promoting network accomplishments.

JFK Partners is a member as the designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) and Leadership Education in Neurdevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program for Colorado. The Colorado's Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) is also located at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. 

The Child Development Unit at Children's Hospital Colorado

The Child Development Unit evaluates children with a variety of developmental and neurobehavioral issues. The CDU provide single-specialty evaluations as well as an interdisciplinary team approach, where multiple specialties assess a child during a single appointment. Specially trained clinicians, including developmental pediatricians, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapist, and social worker, provide patients and families with the resources necessary to understand a diagnosis, cope with the challenges they might face, and find appropriate therapies or interventions. JFK Partners and the CDU work closely together although are separate entities.