OPA: In Memory of Dr. Vivian A. Cross, P&A Advisory Board Member, by James D. McGaughey, OPA Executive Director.

In Memory of Dr. Vivian A. Cross, P&A Advisory Board Member, by James D. McGaughey, OPA Executive Director.

I met Dr. Cross 25 years ago when she was serving as a special education administrator with the Hartford Public Schools.  In addition to her considerable professional expertise as an evaluator and program developer, she cared deeply about the future of each student for whom she was responsible.  She knew that students with disabilities could learn and achieve far more than most people thought possible.  Unwilling to see anyone written-off, if she was unable to ensure that adequate attention or educational resources would be marshaled to support a particular student, she would advise that student’s parents to contact our Office for advocacy representation (or surreptitiously make the referral herself). 

Although Dr. Cross eventually retired from her administrative position, she never retired her passion for justice.  I met up with her again ten years ago at the Legislative Office Building.  She was a woman on a mission: to challenge the ignorance and apathy with which our world continues to expose children to the poisonous effects of lead.   She educated me and thousands of others on the prevalence and devastating effects of that insidious neurotoxin - one that was, and still is robbing so many children of their potential.  She explained to me that when she encountered resistance from the very health and education systems that should have been leading the charge, “It ticked me off”.  Ever the educator, she developed materials, organized presentations and seminars and on-line courses.  Just as importantly, she called for action: universal blood lead level screening for young children, access to early intervention services and evaluation and programming guidelines for school districts to follow when children have been identified as having elevated lead levels.  None of these things would have happened in Connecticut without her passion and persistence.

A little over four years ago, Dr. Cross agreed to serve on our agency’s Advisory Board.  She brought the same passion and insights to her role as a Board member as she brought to all her other advocacy endeavors.  We will very much miss her contributions, but feel blessed indeed to have known her. 

Content Last Modified on 7/3/2014 8:15:54 AM