Introducing GW’s New Director of Disability Support Services

Rochelle Mills brings years of passion for working with individuals with disabilities to her position at GW.

February 27, 2024

Rochelle Mills

New DSS Director Rochelle Mills joined GW on Jan. 2.

Rochelle Mills has been announced as the new director of Disability Support Services (DSS) at George Washington University. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she attended The Ohio State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by a master’s degree in social work. As a proud first-generation college graduate, she is also excited about supporting students on a similar journey.

"I chose to study those two fields," Mills said, "because I am passionate about working with diverse populations in need, such as individuals grappling with mental health concerns.”

After graduating with her master’s degree, Mills' first job was working at a shelter for families experiencing a crisis. Mills eventually decided to pursue a career in accessibility services within higher education after realizing many individuals in need of help were struggling to find access to accommodations.

“A lot of times I noticed that the clients I was working with were navigating systems that weren't working for them or were not built for them in the first place. So it got me thinking about how I can help these individuals work within a system to be able to help them navigate it,” Mills said.

Mills began working within New York University's accessibility office where she stayed for six years. While at NYU, Mills received her MBA in 2023. Mills, who started her job at GW Jan. 2,  is excited to join the GW community and continue her passion for working in accessibility services.

Q: What drew you to this role at GW and what aspects of this job are you most excited about?

 A: What drew me to the director role for DSS is the opportunity to continue serving individuals with disabilities. I’m incredibly passionate about working with this population and am most excited about connecting with folks across the university with a similar drive to help promote accessibility.

Q: Drawing from your previous experience working in student accessibility, what lessons are you bringing with you to your new position as director to further enhance Disability and Support Services here at GW?

A: During my tenure at New York University’s Moses Center for Student Accessibility, I discovered the following lessons:

 1. Collaboration is key. Accessibility offices are the touch point for students across all university programs, from undergrad through professional programs. Through strengthening university partnerships, our office can ultimately better provide services for students with disabilities.

2. A lot of accessibility work involves creative problem-solving. To help meet students' needs we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to better help serve students.

3. Whether students are newly diagnosed or have a history of a disability, it is incredibly important for our office to meet students where they’re at with an approach of understanding and kindness.

Q:  What new strategies or initiatives do you plan to put in place to ensure greater support for students, faculty and staff at GW?

A: My main priority right now is hiring. We are a growing team and are hoping to bring on some excellent talent to help meet students' needs. My key strategy is to continue being solution focused. Finding new ways to better help our students and navigate the university.

Q: Do you plan to collaborate with other organizations on campus, including student groups like the GW Disabled Student Collective (DSC) and Chronic Health Advocates, to get a better understanding of what students would like to see improved with DSS?

A: I had the opportunity to meet the DSC recently. I plan on continuing to partner with them and other organizations as much as possible as they help represent the student voice on campus.

Q: What is your vision for enhancing awareness and understanding of disability?

A: My vision is to use every interaction with a student, faculty or staff member our office has as an opportunity for enhancing awareness and disability education. To strengthen our partnerships across the university, I’d like to provide more accessibility training for faculty and staff as well as host an open house so that folks can get to know the DSS team and space. I’m incredibly excited to grow in my role as DSS director here at GW.