Biggest-Ever Class of MNLEND Fellows Complete "an Incredible Year"

Fri Jun 22 2018
Group photo of the MNLEND Fellow class of 2017-18.

On May 17, 33 MNLEND Fellows (pictured) received their Certificate of Completion, recognizing the culmination of their year-long appointment with the Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (MNLEND) Program at ICI. The MNLEND Fellow class of 2017-18 was the largest since the fellowships began in 2011, surpassing last year's record of 26 Fellows. Each year the MNLEND, 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 MNLEND offers Fellows a unique interdisciplinary training experience that prepares them for leadership in serving children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental and related disabilities (NDD) and their families in health care, education, human services, and policy settings.

This year's Fellows included Nimo Ahmed, Kathryn ("Katie") Anderson, Kaysie Bergum, Bridget Binstock, Stacey Brandjord, Pang Chaxiong, Eleanor Chenoweth, Rebecca Davis, Beth Dierker, Adele Dimian, Teresa Eide, Emily Furl, Nancy Gonzalez, Jaclyn Gunderson, Libby Hallas-Muchow, Katherine Holzer, Abdi Hussein, Deeqaifrah Hussein, Alice Kraiza, Julia Lang, Emily Mentz, Elise Niedermeier, Kate Onyeneho, Sylvester Onyeneho, Munira Osman, Elizabeth Pittman, John ("Jack") Reagan, Mollika Sajady, Yusuf Samatar, Susan Saunders, Hannah Sterling, Derjuan Strons, and Mariana Walther.

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

  • "Thanks to MNLEND, it has been an incredible year filled with many opportunities to learn and experience interdisciplinary leadership and advocacy skills, and then immediately I was putting these skills into practice within the community and in the halls of government."

  • "MNLEND instilled in me this 'can-do' vibe... this 'I-am-the-one-to-do-it' attitude. As a growing leader, I will continue to think not only of the way things are, but also of the way things could be."

  • "Meeting with professional people from different disciplines and fields was the opportunity of a lifetime. I learned about ASD/NDD from different researchers and professors... and each one of them was like a walking library. I also learned how to assess Positive Behavior Supports and how to manage problem behaviors positively."

  • "I learned there are multiple forms of advocacy—from educating individuals to influencing policy—and that each form of advocacy is important to bettering the lives of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. I have learned the value of working in a group of individuals with different abilities; I will share this valuable knowledge with other healthcare professionals and the community."