Dr. Zipporah Levi-Shackleford

Dr. Zipporah Levi-Shackleford, PBSF 

Dr Zipporah Levi-Shackleford Downloadable Bio

Dr. Zipporah Levi-Shackleford is the Founder of and Behavior & Education Consultant for the Creative Approach Development Center (CADC). Dr. Levi-Shackleford has dedicated her life’s work to being an advocate and teacher for people with mental health impairments and disabilities. Starting CADC can be attributed to her personal experience as a person with a diagnosis of ADHD, a sister to a younger brother with a mental health diagnosis, and a mother to children with disabilities. Each day she is committed to being a valuable resource that will help to enrich the life of her children as well as those that seek her service through the CADC. Throughout her life, Dr. Levi-Shackleford has overcome numerous challenges and obstacles and uses her personal and professional experiences to not only spread the message that people deserve to live life based on their choices but also helps those in underserved and underrepresented populations develop and reach goals that will allow them to do so.

Dr. Levi-Shackleford’s areas of expertise include: 

  • Providing supports for those with dual diagnoses (intellectual & developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses)

  • Modifying & teaching new behaviors that improve the quality of life

  • Integrating Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) into daily routines

  • Transitioning

  • Using technology to bridge learning & skill gaps

  • Developing professional & leadership training 

  • Building inclusive communities

Dr. Levi-Shackleford believes that having direct hands-on, interactive approaches allows individuals to make the massive, positive changes needed to succeed. 

As a champion for the disability community, Dr. Levi-Shackleford has developed and harbored relationships with community members around the country. She has a strong presence with local schools and works side by side with the Governor of Virginia as the Chair for the Virginia Interagency Coordinating Council, serves a the Vice-President for the Arc South of the James, and serves as a Director on the Arc of Virginia Board. Dr. Levi-Shackleford’s skills and expertise have allowed her to teach large audiences around the country about inclusion, transitioning, technology for special education students, and using positive behavior supports in the classroom and everyday life. She is frequently requested to present at conferences for families, professionals, educators, and other events specialized in helping people learn and understand more about the mental health and special needs populations, the barriers they face, and creating and modifying services and resources to address their needs, PBS, and true community inclusion. 

Dr. Levi-Shackleford’s education includes an Associate Degree in Elementary Education, Associate degrees in Computer Programming and Web Development, a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development, and a Master’s Degree in Education specializing in Literacy Development. She has also earned a Doctorate in Education specializing in Instructional Technology. She has also earned certifications in autism spectrum disorders, early intervention, positive behavior supports, and disability leadership. In addition to providing training and development support in behavior management, Dr. Levi-Shackleford is currently developing online training, apps, and digital resources using PBS to educate people with mental health challenges and disabilities and their support teams further close the achievement gap for students with disabilities. 


Get to know Dr. Levi-Shackleford

Your favorite quote

“I am not crazy; my reality is just different from yours.” – The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland 

Name a person (past or present) you would love to have lunch with and why?

I would love to have the opportunity to have lunch with and talk to my Great-Cousin, Mary Mcleod Bethune. She also was an educator and advocate and did so much during a time when women and people of color had very limited opportunities. I would love to hear her personal stories and get advice from her. 

What are your thoughts on discouraging/limiting peoples’ goals and dreams because they may seem too advantageous or beyond the person’s ability?

I am a firm believer that anyone is capable of achieving anything with the right supports. Over the years, I have sat in many team meetings (IEPs & annual meetings) where a person expressed a desire to do something their team felt was beyond their ability. They never even tried to brainstorm ways to modify and attempt achievement, just immediately dismissed it. That is a huge frustration. Brainstorm make some changes, and get it done!

What song do you use to get yourself pumped up and motivated?

Music is a huge part of my life and I have a playlist for everything and mood. My go-to to get myself pumped up would be “DNA” or any other song by BTS.

What is your favorite book?

Tough question. I LOVE reading and have many many favorites. My top would be the Illuminae Series by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

What was a challenge you have overcome?

My life has had many ups and downs over the years. A big challenge I recently overcame was finishing my Doctorate while being a mom of 4 each with different levels of additional needs, operating Creative Approach Development Center, and helping all those I support in my role as a Behavior Life Coach. 

How do you get through the tough days?

The first thing I do is make a checklist for my day. I remind myself to do my best and that it doesn’t have to be all done in one day. If it is a really tough day, I cut down on my to-do list to give myself extra time for some needed self-care.