Biggest-Ever Class of MN LEND Fellows Complete a Transformative Year

Publication date: 
May 14, 2017

On May 4, 26 MN LEND Fellows received their Certificate of Completion from MN LEND Director, Amy Hewitt, recognizing the culmination of their year-long appointment with the Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (MN LEND) Program of ICI. The MN LEND Fellow class of 2016-17 was the largest since the fellowships began in 2011. Each year the MN LEND, which is funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, selects outstanding graduate/postgraduate students and community members to become Fellows. In partnership with other academic departments at the University, the LEND offers Fellows a unique interdisciplinary training experience that prepares them for leadership in serving children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, other neurodevelopmental and related disabilities, and their families, in health care, education, human services, and policy settings.

This year's Fellows were Sahaam Abdi, Julia Anderson, Kathryn ("Katie") Anderson, Kathryn ("KT") Curry, Sharyn DeZelar, Marianne Elmquist, Afton Emich, Rachel Franz, Dan Hatfield, Abdi Hussein, Kristen Kessler, Ismahan ("Izzy") Mohamed, Fatima Molas, Kelli Morrell (pictured), Michelle Olson, Kate Onyeneho, Quannah Parker-McGowan, Deeqo Qanyare, John ("Jack") Reagan, Heidi Reick, Sarah Shraufnagel, Elizabeth ("Liz") Sharer, James Taborda-Whitt, Liliana Torres Nordahl, Lucy Wasserburg, and Joe Wentzel. Congratulations to all!

When asked what they gained from their MN LEND experience, this year's cohort had much to say, including:

  • "Overall LEND provided both a breadth and depth into the disability world that it would have taken decades to acquire otherwise."
  • "My year with LEND has shown me how compassion, dedication, and curiosity can connect all people; LEND is a beautiful example of how multiple viewpoints are imperative in creative problem solving."
  • "We LEND Fellows were never given the answers; rather, we were challenged to come up with our own solutions for how to create a community that includes and welcomes people with neurodevelopmental disabilities."
  • "I learned so much about different disciplines and the family's experience that have given me a more holistic approach toward caring for my patients."
  • "The experience I gained during the LEND program will improve my chance to advocate for my son and others affected by autism: I am a parent with a purpose."