Celebrating A Leader in Rural Disability Research: Dr. Craig Ravesloot

September 28, 2021

Dr. Craig Ravesloot will celebrate his retirement from RTC:Rural on September 30, 2021 after 33 years with the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities.  As a Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Montana, Dr. Ravesloot has been a leader at RTC:Rural dedicated to envisioning and leading research projects and building programs to support the quality of life of people with disabilities.

Dr. Craig Ravesloot, a man with a beard, wearing a coat. Behind him are snow and trees“During my career, I have had the great pleasure to meet some of the finest people imaginable. People who know that people with disabilities can do all the things everyone does with the right support and opportunity. These people are the independent living and rehabilitation providers who support people with disabilities to create opportunity every day. My career has been focused on providing the best information and tools we can generate to assist them in this work, especially rural providers. I can imagine nothing more meaningful that I could have done in my career than this.”
     - Dr. Craig Ravesloot

Dr. Ravesloot began his career at RTC:Rural as a graduate student in 1989, under the guidance and mentorship of respected rural disability researcher and former RTC:Rural Director, Dr. Tom Seekins. His knowledge and passion continued to grow from there. After years of work spanning across multiple grants, projects, and scientific contributions, Dr. Ravesloot served a significant role in a variety of capacities. In addition to forging a strong line of rural health research and acting as Principal Investigator on multiple projects, Craig served as the Co-Director of RTC:Rural from 2013 to 2017 and since then continued as Research Director.

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Ravesloot conducted research, program development and evaluation of services for people with disabilities funded through the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Public Health Service (PHS). He was the recipient of several research and service awards, and is recognized by colleagues, students, and others within the network of disability community partners and collaborators.

Dr. Meg Traci, longtime colleague of Dr. Ravesloot, recalls, “Craig started his career at a time when the National Council on Disability and other partners were calling for a paradigm shift in the nation’s agenda on the health and wellness of people with disability. He made the most of this coincidence, dedicating his career to collaborations with people with disability and disability organizations like the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL). These collaborations created an array of opportunities for people with disabilities to lead self-determined and meaningful lives. Living Well in the Community is one such opportunity that Craig worked with disability partners to create with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Administration on Community Living. Craig also represented the disability community’s values and independent living philosophy throughout his broad academic and professional work making fields such as mental health, health promotion and wellness more inclusive and equitable.”

As the following quotes highlight, Dr. Ravesloot leaves an imprint on RTC:Rural and the many community partners, students, and colleagues who he’s worked with over the years.

“Craig is a leader of his peers, working to connect individuals with the community and the resources they need to be successful! Knowing Craig was a joy because he truly believes in empowering individuals to find health and well-being!”

- Dori Tempio, Director of Community Outreach and Consumer Rights at Able South Carolina, a Center for Independent Living and network partner who has collaborated with Dr. Ravesloot on the Healthy Community Living project for the past six years

“I feel extremely grateful for being able to work with Craig over the past five years. I have learned a great deal about writing grants and working constructively with partners. Before coming to the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, I knew very little about disability research and the Independent Living Philosophy. His mentorship in grant writing has led to two successful NIDILRR proposals in the last few years that support the participatory and innovative work that I love.”

- Dr. Raya Sage, Project Director and Principal Investigator

“Although I only got to work with Craig for a short time, the mentorship he provided me was invaluable. I am so grateful for his support, advising, and encouragement during some of the largest milestones of my career thus far.”

- Genna Mishinchi, Graduate Research Assistant

"I can honestly say working with Craig over the last ten years has been nothing short of an incredible adventure. I have learned a great deal from him both personally and professionally, and look forward to putting the knowledge I have gained to use in our future projects."

- Tannis Hargrove, Project Director

“As a graduate student with a very narrow view of disability at my start with RTC:Rural, I became increasingly challenged, broadened and inspired through the variety of projects I worked on with Craig. The participatory approach of community-based research he introduced led to my commitment of working with disability stakeholders and tapping into the experiential wisdom of our rural communities to envision and create change.”

- Tracy Boehm Barrett, Knowledge Translation Director

“Craig leaves a significant gap in creativity and expertise to fill. Thankfully, his exceptional mentorship to our current staff and students provides a foundation for future research to support the quality of life of rural people with disabilities.”

- Dr. Catherine Ipsen, RTC:Rural Director

Thank you, Dr. Ravesloot, for your many contributions! We wish you the very best and a very happy retirement!