Published on Wednesday, October 09, 2013 08:00
This past July, April DuVal retired as executive director of the Jefferson County, Kentucky, Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD). During her 43-year tenure there, April provided leadership for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, helped develop educational, vocational, and residential programs for persons with intellectual disabilities and established the Parent Outreach and Citizen Advocacy programs in Louisville.
Even more admirably, while April helped change society's view and treatment of the developmentally disabled, she served hundreds of clients with individual, personal care. "Almost every parent who is active in the CDD could tell a story about how April personally helped them through a trying time," says Natalie Semaria, a "CCD parent" for nearly 40 years. Semaria further notes that April has been "the guardian and/or payee for several disabled adults who have no one else to stand up for them. She personally accompanied me to Guardian Court, understanding that it was a difficult step for me. April has retired from her leadership role but I know that she will never “retire” from caring for disabled people and acting as an advocate.
DuVal was among the first in her field to recognize the potential for computers to transform learning and employment for people with disabilities. She won grants from Apple to establish an enabling technology center and is a past president of the National Alliance of Technology Access. She has taught classes for the School of Social Work at Spalding University. She is also a past president of the Kentucky Association on Mental Retardation.
April has received numerous awards, including the University of Louisville Outstanding Social Work Field Supervisor, the Louisville Courier Journal Phenomenal Woman Award, and the Kentucky Colonel Award, presented by Governor John Y. Brown. She has been honored officially by the mayor of Louisville, the 3rd Kentucky Congressional District, the Kentucky House of Representatives, and the Kentucky Senate.
Childhood friend and Albion classmate Sharon Thorne Vydick, '65, notes that April was also their sixth-grade class president and organizer of their 50-year high school reunion. "She's been my friend for life," said Vydick, who notes that she and classmate Teresa Trostmiller, '65, regularly enjoy being with their friend. "April is very driven and that's gotten her where she is. She is a friendly, happy, smiley person and that's why everyone loves her."
"April and I benefitted from the Kresges and Putnams, the people who love Albion and support it in very tangible ways," says April's sister, Marcia Lile, '67. "It's great that Albion acknowledges people like April, who never made a lot of money, but who also loved Albion and were also impacted in the same way. When we were students in the 1960s, Albion brought us speakers like Martin Luther King, Jr., who encouraged us to act in daring ways. Those were inspiring times and April's life is a response to that."
After graduating Phi Beta Kapp with honors from Albion, April earned her MSW from the University of Michgian. In 1994 she was inducted into Albion's Athletic Hall of Fame for her prowess on the field hockey team. She has two children and six grandchildren and lives in Louisville.