Dr. Bryon Kluesner received the Dona Sparger Professional Service Award at the Tennessee Association on Higher Education and Disability (TN-AHEAD) 2015 Spring Conference and Business Meeting, held at Austin Peay State University. Kluesner is the Adaptive Technology Coordinator in the UTC Disability Resource Center.
Sparger, who has received many awards for her professional work and service, was the guest speaker at the event and was present when Kluesner received the award.
Dr. Chester Goad, former Dona Sparger Recipient and Former TN-AHEAD President, said in his letter of nomination it would be difficult to find anyone more deserving of the award than Kluesner.
“Bryon has a strong history of work and collaboration with our organization. He has served professionally in a variety of venues including UTC and Austin Peay. He has also served as an advocate in a variety of roles in his community and around our state,” Goad said in the letter of nomination.
Kluesner has developed a radio program to bring awareness and highlight disability related issues. It’s called “Diversability Tuesdays with Dr. Bryon Kluesner,” and it ran from 2-3 p.m. during fall and spring semesters on The Perch, an online UTC station.
“Dr. Kluesner is one of the most compassionate and knowledgeable people I know and his advocacy never ends. It is a part of who he is. Additionally, Dr. Kluesner is a person of humility, who is highly respected though he’s one of the most down-to earth and unassuming people I know,” Goad added.
Kluesner began his career at UTC in 2006 to take a position as the Adaptive Technology Coordinator in the Disability Resource Center. He currently serves as co-facilitator for the first year experience for students attending UTC who are enrolled in the MoSAIC program for college students with autism. Kluesner is an adjunct faculty member in the UTC College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies.
He is a professional member of several organizations pertaining to disability, higher education and assistive technology. He is a member of the Signal Center’s Technology Advisory Board. He has served as the chair of the Chattanooga Mayor’s Council on Disability.
Dona Sparger was recruited in 1975 to direct the Tennessee Client Assistant Program, which was one of the original 13 federally funded 3-year pilot projects established to determine the need for state advocacy programs for persons with disabilities who were seeking rehabilitation services. The research findings of these 13 projects are responsible for the federally mandated advocacy programs in all states.
In 1978 Dona was recruited to The University of Memphis to develop a program for students with disabilities. She directed the program for 25 years until she retired in 2003, developing, growing and expanding the program every year to culminate into a quality, comprehensive program serving over 900 students representing a wide range of disabilities. She actively participated in relevant professional associations during this time, especially AHEAD and TN-AHEAD.