About Meghan

Meghan Burke, PhD, BCBA-D, is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Most importantly, Meghan has a brother, Ryan, with Down syndrome. She also has a son with a disability.


I have personal experience with advocacy and disability. I have a brother with Down syndrome. I also have a son with a disability. Because of my personal experience, I have been fortunate to meet and befriend many parents of individuals with disabilities. This website is largely a reflection of the tips and insights I have learned from fellow parents.

Work Experience

Meghan worked at a Parent Training and Information Center wherein she learned about the need for parent advocacy and improved access to services for individuals with disabilities. With her research, she aims to facilitate access to services for individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan. To do this, Meghan has developed and tested advocacy training programs enabling parents of individuals with disabilities to advocate not only for their own children but also for other families and for systemic change. For example, with the support of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Meghan developed and tested the Volunteer Advocacy Project (VAP), a 36-hour training for individuals to become special education advocates. Currently, the VAP is being implemented across several states.


Regarding formal education, Meghan received her undergraduate degree in public policy with a specialization in education policy from the University of Chicago. She received her Master’s and doctoral degrees from the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Also, she completed a National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Meghan’s research interests include service delivery systems, parent advocacy, and families, including siblings, of individuals with disabilities. Her research interests stem directly from her personal and professional experience in the disability field. Meghan has published over 70 peer-reviewed research articles and multiple book chapters about how families access services for their family members with disabilities. Her research has been funded by several agencies including the: Spencer Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Organization for Autism Research.