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Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD®)

2018 Conference and Training - Atlanta, GA
Capacity Building Workshops: August 7-8
Conference: August 9-11

Join us!

Every year the Kennedy Center's Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD®) conference brings experienced and new professionals together to explore practical methods for implementing accessibility in cultural environments. A LEAD® we share resources and knowledge, develop best practices, and experience accessibility in action.

  • Basic to Advanced: No matter what level of experience you have, there's always something to learn. The building blocks will give newcomers the tools and information they need to develop a successful accessibility program while the discussion groups and advanced track address accessibility for the most experienced.
  • Facilities to Programs: Sessions and discussions will cover all aspects of accessibility from the built environment to programs and communication.
  • Legal Obligations & Customer Service: Learn about relevant laws and regulations and explore accessibility from the customer service and business case perspectives.
  • Networking: Engage in conversations with colleagues who are enthusiastic about accessibility and eager to share their insights and learn from others.

Join us to continue the dialogue, to share exciting ideas, and to explore new and innovative ways to welcome everyone.

Who Attends?

LEAD® provides professional development for:

  • Accessibility Managers and Coordinators
  • Box Office and House Managers
  • Outreach and Education Coordinators
  • Patrons and Visitor Services Managers
  • Facilities and Operations Managers
  • Exhibition Designers
  • State and Local Government ADA/504 Coordinators
  • Marketing and Audience Development Directors
  • State Arts Commission/Council Accessibility Coordinators

Please Note: The LEAD® conference does not address professional development for artists with disabilities or arts education. For resources for artists with disabilities, please visit the VSA Programs page. For information on arts in education for people with disabilities, please visit the Intersections Conference page.

Call for Proposals

The Kennedy Center's Office of Accessibility is seeking proposals for the 2018 LEAD® conference that:

  • approach accessibility from a customer service and civil rights perspective
  • provide practical information addressing current trends and challenges in this field
  • actively engage participants through discussion and/or hands-on activities
  • explore accessibility for a variety of cultural arts organizations, including performing arts centers, museums, theaters, state arts agencies, parks, zoos, and arenas
  • target new, mid-career, or seasoned professionals

Topic areas include:

  • Accessibility Services and Programs: Addresses design and implementation of inclusive or targeted programs, accommodations, or services.
  • Built Environment: Focuses on physical accessibility for renovations, new construction, and retrofits.
  • Customer Service and Staff Training: Examines staff and volunteer education and awareness; managing guest requests, complaints, and concerns.
  • Inclusion, Outreach and Community Engagement: Explores meaningful and effective ways to connect with, involve, cultivate, and welcome the diverse community of people with disabilities.
  • Legal Requirements: Addresses laws and regulations applicable to cultural arts environments.
  • Organizational Buy-In and Strategic Planning: Examines methods for cultivating support for accessibility programs and initiatives within an organization and planning for sustainability.
  • Program Evaluation or Research: Addresses strategies for evaluating program efficacy and impact; examines evidence-based practices.
  • Technology: Discusses digital strategies and devices designed to improve accessibility.
  • Universal Design: Focuses on the implementation of universal design principles in cultural arts settings.

Session Types:

  • Snapshot Sessions: Snapshot sessions are 15-minute informal presentations given at round tables with 10-15 participants at a time. Snapshot sessions may be repeated 2-4 times and will be offered August 9.
  • Capacity Building Workshops: These are in-depth, hands-on professional development workshops addressing a specific topic related to cultural arts access. Capacity building workshops can be 4 hours, 8 hours, or multiple days and will be offered August 7 & 8.
  • Conference Sessions: 80-minute sessions offered concurrently during the conference August 8-10. All sessions must include an interactive component that will engage adult learners and can be offered in several formats:
    • Classroom These sessions provide practical tips, tools and resources that attendees can use to start or improve initiatives, programs, or services.
    • Panel Discussion These sessions offer multiple perspectives on or approaches to a single topic. Proposals must include presenters from more than one organization and a moderator who will ensure that panelists each have an opportunity to present.
    • Skill Building - These hands-on sessions are designed to teach participants a tangible skill. Presenters must devote a significant amount of session time to activities allowing participants to practice and refine the skills introduced during the session.
    • Think Tank – These highly interactive and discussion-based sessions provide an opportunity for conversation. Think Tanks must be led by at least one moderator who introduces the topic and facilitates the ensuing conversation with session participants. Presentations given during Think Tanks cannot exceed 15 minutes.

If you are unsure of which session format is most appropriate or you would like to propose a different session type, select the option that most closely resembles your format and contact us at or 202-416-8727.

To Submit a Proposal

Proposals must be submitted online by January 15, 2018. To discuss your proposal, please contact the Kennedy Center's Accessibility Program at or 202-416-8727.

Sessions will be selected by and at the sole discretion of the LEAD® content committee under the supervision of the Kennedy Center. Presenters should be prepared to cover travel and hotel expenses, meal costs, and applicable conference fees. Presenters may submit more than one proposal. Incomplete proposals will not be considered.

The LEAD® conference does not address professional development for artists with disabilities or arts education. For resources for artists, please visit the VSA Programs page. For information on arts in education, please visit the VSA Intersections Conference page.

For more information, to request proposal materials in a different format, or to discuss your proposal, please contact the Kennedy Center's Office of Accessibility at 202-416-8727 or

Tips for Successful Proposals

  1. Be relevant. Think about whether the topic you are proposing is relevant to mission and purpose of the conference. If you aren't sure, contact us.
  2. Write for your audience(s). The session outline is for the people selecting proposals. Use that space to demonstrate the depth of the information that will be covered and the strategies that will be used to communicate that information. Your brief description is for people deciding which sessions to attend. Get their attention and tell them what they'll learn from your session!
  3. Target your objectives. Learning objectives are the skills or information that participants will gain from coming to your session. Use that space to add detail to your proposal and describe the practical benefits of the information you are sharing.
  4. Engage your participants. Reviewers will be looking for strategies that will keep adult learners engaged. Don't forget to discuss this in your session outline. And think outside the box – creative engagement strategies can give your proposal an edge.
  5. Fill in the blanks. Provide all information requested in the proposal submission form, including your confirmed presenter bios. Incomplete proposals will not be considered.
  6. Quality matters. Well-written proposals have a better chance with the committee. Show your proposal to someone who can make sure you've expressed your ideas clearly and double check your work before you submit.
  7. When in doubt, ask. If you have any questions about proposal submission for the LEAD® Conference, please write to

Registration Eligibility and Rates


Not all registrations will be accepted. Space is limited and preference will be given to paid staff at cultural arts organizations, cultural arts service or government agencies who are directly responsible for making programs and facilities accessible to people with disabilities. The Kennedy Center reserves the right to decline registrations. In the event that registration is declined, the Center will issue a refund for any fees collected.

Registration Rates

Conference: August 9 – 11

Registration Type Individual Rate Team Rate
Arts/Cultural Organization Staff $300.00 $275.00
Federal/State/Local Government Staff $300.00 $275.00
College/University Arts or Arts Administration Staff $300.00 $275.00
Arts Service Agency Staff $300.00 $275.00
Non-Profit Disability Service Organization Staff $750.00 N/A
For-Profit Disability or Arts Service Organization Staff and Consultants $850.00 N/A
Student Scholarships
(Application required. See below for complete details)
$200.00 N/A
Only available to Arts/Cultural Organizations,
Federal/State/Local Governments, College/University Arts,
and Arts Service Agencies.
$175.00 N/A
Presenters $75.00 N/A
Capacity Building Workshops Varies by workshop N/A

Scholarships for Students

Graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in arts administration/management or museum studies programs can apply for a scholarship to attend the LEAD® Conference at a reduced rate of $200. If accepted, student registration would include access to sessions Thursday, August 9 through Saturday, August 11, 2018. Additional fees apply for pre-conference and capacity building workshops as well as the Awards Evening and other special events.

If you have questions about the application, please contact the Kennedy Center's Accessibility Program at or 202-416-8727.

Team Registration Discounts:

If your organization sends more than one person to the full conference, the registration rate drops to $275 per person! Please Note: The team registration rate is only available to staff members of arts or cultural organizations; arts or cultural service agencies; university or college arts or arts administration program staff; and federal, state or local government employees.

Hotel Accommodations:

Atlanta Marriott Marquis

265 Peachtree Center Avenue
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

We are pleased to announce that the Kennedy Center's 2018 LEAD® Conference will take place at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia. The hotel is located in downtown Atlana and is walking distance to many shops, restaurants, and local attractions.

Regular Single and Double Rooms are $174/night.

  • Book your hotel room online
  • If reserving and accessible hotel room online, please check the "accessible" box located in the personal information section of the guest information page. Please indicate any accessibility accommodations in the "additional requests" text box.
  • To book reservations by phone, call: 1-888-855-5701
  • If booking by phone, please make sure to mention to the agent that you are with the block reserved for The Kennedy Center or LEAD Conference.

Amenities include:

  • Complimentary wireless internet access in guest rooms
  • Fitness Studio (fitness room and indoor/outdoor pool)
  • Onsite Spa (massage, facials, pedicures and more for additional fee)
  • Accessible rooms are available

Please note that these special rates are only available before 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 9, 2018. Some amenities such as free internet access may only be complimentary if booked under our conference block. Reservations at this rate are limited – we encourage you to book as soon as possible. For more information about the hotel, visit the hotel website.

Past LEAD® Conferences:


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