Skip to main content

USD Center for Disabilities announces new executive director

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The Center for Disabilities at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine has named Wendy Parent-Johnson, Ph.D., CRC, CESP as its new executive director. She succeeds Dr. Judy Struck, who retired in January after 21 years as executive director.

Parent-Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and a Ph.D. in education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Professionally, Parent-Johnson has held positions at Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Georgia and the University of Kansas. Prior to the Center for Disabilities, Parent-Johnson worked as research professor and associate director of the Lawrence site of the University of Kansas Center on Developmental Disabilities and the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies.

“I am genuinely excited about the opportunity to lead the Center for Disabilities team and to build upon the expertise we have to increase engagement with the research and medical communities, both here and across the region,” said Parent-Johnson. “Growth possibilities, for example in the areas of transition and employment, for persons with disabilities are numerous, and I’m humbled to join the Center for Disabilities as we continue to expand upon its 42-year legacy.”

Parent-Johnson has published numerous book chapters and journal articles and has co-authored several books, while also providing hundreds of presentations and workshops during her career. Her areas of interest and research are supported/customized employment and transition from school to work for individuals with severe disabilities, inclusive post-secondary education, job coach certification, health care transition, and employment first, among others. A photo of Parent-Johnson is available for download at

For more information about the Center for Disabilities, please visit


USD's Sanford School of Medicine is nationally known for excellence. With its award-winning curriculum, the school prepares medical students to practice in all fields of medicine and is particularly recognized and ranked for its reputation in family medicine and rural medicine. In addition to the M.D., it offers graduate degrees in basic biomedical science, sustains a vibrant and forward-looking research agenda, and is home to the interdisciplinary Center for Brain and Behavioral Research.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News