About FIU Embrace

Every differently abled person deserves to be treated like a human. It all starts here.

What is FIU Embrace?

FIU Embrace for Advancing Inclusive Communities is a center that empowers each differently abled person to live at their fullest potential through research-based and innovative programming, community engagement, and professional skills development.


We are creating a world that embraces individuals of all abilities.


We empower differently abled people to live their most fulfilled lives in inclusive communities.

About the center

FIU Embrace Center for Advancing Inclusive Communities provides a person-focused, household-centric approach, while recognizing that every differently abled person deserves to be treated as an individual with special talents and challenges. By promoting health, wellness, education, and overall functioning, we help adults with different abilities, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disabilities (ID), and other neurodevelopmental disorders (OND), lead healthy active lives.

Backed by FIU, a world-class research institution, our ultimate vision is to bring together thought leadership, models of care, and research to create a better world for differently abled individuals, parents, and caregivers. We aim to build a global network of professionals, universities, organizations, and public officials, establishing an epicenter for the research and development of inclusive models and systems all over the world.

The Center’s objectives are:

  • To establish an assessment clinic for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
    • Graduate assistants and post-graduates will be trained in the assessment of children and adults with developmental disabilities.
  • To establish and launch a research plan that encourages transdisciplinary research.
    • This plan will include internal and external researchers whose work is funded through state, federal, and FIU Foundation dollars.
  • To apply for and attain University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) designation. This entails:
    • Developing and launching Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) training curriculum.
    • Developing and launching an undergraduate degree in Disability Studies.
    • Providing clinical rotation to undergraduate and graduate students.

Where we are and where we’re going

FIU Embrace has:

  • Launched the Simmons+Hernandez Suarez fellowship
  • Received the Florida Postsecondary comprehensive Transition Program (FPCTP) designation and now seeking federal Comprehensive Postsecondary Transition Program (CPT) designation
  • Launched a program for degree seeking affected by autism
  • Partnered with Citrus Health Network to transition medical care for individuals and families affected by a developmental disability in their community. The partnership with a FQHC has allowed for greater financial support by HRSA while expanding reach. 

By 2026, FIU Embrace will:

  • Launch a full service employment initiative supporting both students and the employer.
  • Expand the FIU Embrace Education program to include additional areas of specialization and increase the number of students enrolled to two hundred.
  • Develop and launch a strategic research agenda that is translational and impactful.


  • Nicole Attong
    Director, FIU Embrace Center for Advancing Inclusive Communities

Advisory Council

  • Aime Martinez
    FIU Associate Vice President of Business and Finance
  • Andres Gil
    Vice President for Research and Economic Development and Dean of the University Graduate School
  • Angela Laird
    FIU Professor and Research Director of the Center for Imaging Science
  • Brenda Lampon
    Area Director, Division of Vocational Rehab, Florida
  • Cuong Do
    Executive Vice President and Head of Global Strategy Group, Samsung Electronics America
  • Luis Navas
    Senior Partner, Global Governance Advisors
  • Mario Jadon
    President & Chief Executive Officer, Citrus Health Network, Inc.
  • Nicole Attong
    Director, FIU Embrace Center for Advancing Inclusive Communities
  • Yolangel (Yogi) Hernandez Suarez
    Vice Provost for Population Health and Wellbeing and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs - Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine