Rise and Thrive – Student Accessibility and Mental Health Services: Leveraging a Relationship for Collaborative Advocacy (Virtual)

Partnerships between campus accessibility/disability services and mental health services are unique and can support opportunities to create change within institutional systems. This presentation will explore the why’s and how’s of accessibility/disability and mental health services offices partnerships – including how to initiate establishing a more positive, collaborative relationship, informal and formal relationship components, identify the benefits to both offices to having this type of relationship, and overcome potential barriers (real or perceived) between the two offices. These two offices have the potential to come together to collaboratively advocate for not only individual students but also institutional and systemic change. The presenters will also explore how the offices can support each other for mutual growth and attendance to office and service needs. Attendees will hear real examples of how the presenters have collaborated to mutually support their offices and also bring attention to issues that need to be addressed in their campus systems.


Keynote Speakers:

Emily “Em” Ribnik (she/they), M.Ed., LPCC-S, CTMH, CGCS

Emily Em Ribnik

  • Emily “Em” Ribnik joined the Department of Psychiatry as the Director of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence (CJ CCOE) in May 2021. Prior to her work with the CJ CCOE, Ms. Ribnik worked for five years in emergency psychiatric and crisis services. This work included being Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trained in 2007 and serving as a CIT Coordinator for Portage County for several years. For the past ten years, Ms. Ribnik was one of the clinical mental health counselors at Kent State University at Stark’s Counseling Services providing individual and crisis counseling for college students. During her time at Kent State University, she also assisted in advocating for and hiring mental health clinicians at all domestic regional campuses and was a contributor to the university’s “Student Mental Well-Being at Kent State University: Looking Into a Future Promoting Student Success” white paper and associated mental health strategic plan.

  • In her role as Director, Ms. Ribnik partners with community stakeholders in both criminal justice and mental health to improve cross systems responses to individuals in crisis and justice-involved individuals living with mental illness. Her work focuses on leading the initiatives of the CJ CCOE which include supporting and expanding Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) throughout the state of Ohio and assisting to coordinate the Ohio Cross-Systems Mapping Initiative. She works to provide consultation and technical assistance to promote program development and training opportunities for the criminal justice and mental health systems of Ohio. Ms. Ribnik is a member of the Ohio Attorney General’s Task Force on Mental Illness and Criminal Justice.

Amanda L. Feaster, M.Ed. (She/her/hers) Director, Student Accessibility Services, Kent State University

Amanda L Feaster, M.Ed.

  • As the Director of Student Accessibility Services (SAS), Amanda sets strategic priorities for the department and provides leadership and supervision to SAS staff. As an advocate on behalf of students with disabilities, Amanda educates the University community about accessibility through service on a variety of committees and promotes social justice through the inclusion of people with disabilities in the educational environment. Amanda is the co-chair of the University Accessibility Committee and serves as the Past President of the Ohio Association of Higher Education and Disability. Amanda has a Master of Arts in Education in Higher Education Administration from The University of Akron and has worked in higher education in both academic and disability support services for over fifteen years. Amanda is also a Ph.D. candidate in the Higher Education Administration program at Kent State University.