Alaska LEND Without Walls

About Alaska LEND

Alaska LEND Without Walls (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities) provides graduate level interdisciplinary leadership training for individuals with a commitment to providing family-centered coordinated systems of health care and related services to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents who have, or are at risk for developing, autism and other developmental disabilities.

LEND Program Functions

  • Family-Centered
  • Building relationships with family, professionals and community service providers
  • Recognizing, respecting and celebrating diversity
  • Promoting health and meaningful life participation for all children
  • Leadership, developing trust and common vision with others to effect system change


  • LEND Goals

    Overarching Aim

    Develop interdisciplinary leadership skills to promote systems change and advocacy on behalf of children and adolescents with developmental disabilities and their families.

    • Goal 1: Provide high-quality interdisciplinary graduate-level education to long-term trainees that emphasizes the integration of services supported by state, local agencies, organizations, private providers, and communities.
    • Goal 2: Train medium- and short-term Fellows, including practicing professionals and families, to increase knowledge and skills around developmental disabilities and autism.
    • Goal 3: Engage current university faculty from a variety of disciplines to encourage interdisciplinary training and mentor Fellows.
    • Goal 4: Increase the capacity in Alaska to provide interdisciplinary neurodevelopmental diagnostic evaluations and interventions.
    • Goal 5: Engage in the national network of LEND programs to foster collaboration, coordinate program efforts, disseminate research to the field, and provide peer mentorship opportunities.
    • Goal 6: Increase the number of Fellows from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
    • Goal 7: Increase the number of individuals with disabilities and family members in the program.


  • LEND Program National Network
    • There are 52 LEND programs located in 44 US states, with an additional six states and three territories reached through program partnerships.
    • They work together to address national issues of importance to children with special health care needs and their families, exchange best practices, and develop shared products.
    • LEND programs come together regionally to address issues specific to their location.
    • Visit the Association of University Centers on Disabilities website to learn more.

    LEND Program Network


    This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number: T73MC20663, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders Training Program,for $535,222.00 of federal funding (07/01/2018–06/30/2019). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

    UAA is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual: UAA Title IX Compliance.

LEND Fellows have a passion to make a difference in their disciplines and in many issues that impact the disability community as a whole. They are the disability leaders of today and the future.
Betsey Jacobs

“Summer camp for people with disabilities has been my dream as long as I can remember, but LEND helped to show me that I can do more than dream and talk about it, I can actually DO it.”

Betsey Jacobs, SLP, LEND Fellow

LEND Trainings


Alaska LEND without Walls requires a minimum commitment from long term Fellows of 300 hours, which includes over 100 hours of clinical experience in an academic year. Long term Fellows receive a Workforce Credential and a stipend for completion of the LEND program. UAA Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) credits are available, 3 per semester.

The LEND program is offered using distance technology to Fellows across the state, including Video Conferencing and some Web conferencing. LEND Fellows also travel to Anchorage three times during the program year. Approved travel for required LEND activities will be paid for by the grant.


  • Expectations
    • Sept–May Academic Year commitment 
    • Participate in weekly seminars, Fridays 1-4 pm (offered via video/web conferencing at community sites outside of Anchorage)
    • Attend three Leadership Workshops (2-days each, face-to-face in Anchorage; at beginning, middle, and end of program)
    • Complete all program requirements
    • Monthly meeting with your faculty mentor
    • Spend an average of 5–10 hours per week on LEND activities such as seminar, clinical/field experiences, time with host family, and leadership project
  • Long Term Fellows

    You must meet at least one of the four eligibility criteria
    a) Baccalaureate degree and enrolled in a graduate program in one of the following disciplines: nursing, public health, social work, psychology, special education, education, speech language pathology, audiology, occupational therapy, or medicine.
    b) Graduate degree in one of the following disciplines: nursing, public health, social work, psychology, special education, education, speech language pathology, audiology, occupational therapy, or medicine. 
    c) Baccalaureate degree and at least 5 years of experience with increasing professional responsibilities in the field of developmental and related disabilities.
    d) You are a parent or family member of a child with a developmental disability.


    Have long-term professional leadership goals focused in developmental disabilities and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder in Alaska. Long Term Fellows develop an individualized leadership training plan with their faculty mentor which meets their personal long term goals. All program components tie directly to this plan and many options are available within each component. Twelve Long Term Fellows are selected to participate each year.

  • Medium Term Fellows

    As a parent of a child with an intellectual or developmental disability, or as someone who experiences an intellectual or developmental disability, there is also a Medium Term Fellowship opportunity. This Fellowship completes 150 hours instead of 300 hours over two semesters. Three Medium Term Fellows are selected to participate each year. 

    Medium Term Fellows focus on building leadership and advocacy skills. Medium Term Fellows attend all seminars and training, and complete field hours to meet individual goals. Medium Term Fellows do not complete a leadership project, clinical observation hours, and the host family experience that the Long Term Fellows complete.

  • LEAD

    Family LEND Fellow

    Are you a parent or family member of a child with a developmental disability? Do you have a passion for making systems better for families? Do you want to expand your leadership skills and realm of influence to make a difference? Consider applying to be a Family LEND Fellow.

    LEND emphasizes the importance of being family centered in every aspect of the program, including inclusion of Fellows that are parents or family members of children who experience a developmental disability.

    Family Fellows do not need to meet the degree requirements of the other disciplines, but do need to know it is an academic program. The program runs September–May, and results in a workforce credential and pays a stipend for those who complete program requirements. 


    LEND Family Advisory Council is parent driven with a unified voice advocating for positive change.

    Our Mission
    Parents as professionals providing expertise about individuals who experience disabilities through collaboration, mentorship, leadership and education throughout our communities.

    We meet most months to plan training events and advise LEND on family components.  If you are interested in participating, please contact the LEND Training Coordinator.

    LFAC offers trainings on topics important to parents of children with special needs.

    For registration information, please contact the LEND Training Coordinator


     Mentoring is a foundational component of the LEND experience.

    • Faculty Mentoring

      Faculty Mentoring

      As part of the LEND experience, Fellows develop a relationship with a UAA faculty member, usually in their discipline. LEND Faculty Mentors work with Fellows as they participate and reflect through their experiences in LEND. Mentors help craft the Fellow's goals and Individual Leadership and Training Plan (ILTP).

      Fellows meet with mentors (in person, by phone or Skype) to discuss areas of strength and areas for growth and discuss goals for LEND and brainstorm about the ILTP. Fellows meet to discuss progress, reflect on learning from LEND experiences, and adjust goals as needed. Mentors are available to problem-solve with Fellows when support is needed.

      Benefits of being in a mentoring relationship:

      • Accelerate personal and professional leadership skills development
      • Access to expertise and advice
      • Problem solving partner 
    • Host Family Mentoring

      Host Family Mentoring Experience

      Understanding and utilizing family-centered practices is a key part of the LEND program. In addition to discussion and didactic learning in seminar, Fellows build a relationship with at least one family to understand the challenges families of children and youth with ASD/DD face in such areas as shopping, transportation, housing, education, and recreation. Family faculty matches Fellows to a mentoring host family. Fellows spend 25–30 hours during the year with their host family.

      Fellow with their host family

      Objectives of the Host Family Mentoring Experience:

      • To understand the impact of raising a child with a disability may have on the entire family.
      • To increase appreciation of the capabilities and contributions of children with disabilities.
      • To learn about the emotions and stages of adjustment experienced by parents, when a child is diagnosed with a disability. 
      • To appreciate the value of good collaboration between parents and professionals. 
      • To learn about community resources available for children with disabilities and their families. 
      • To consider obstacles, challenges, opportunities and outcomes of school and community inclusion, for children with disabilities. 
      • To understand the importance of family-centered practices.

      If you are a parent of a child who experiences a developmental or related disability and are interested in being a mentoring family for a LEND Fellow, please contact the Training Coordinator.

 Apply to Alaska LEND

Check back soon for the Fall 2020 LEND Cohort recruitment. 
You may contact the LEND Training Coordinator for inquiries.
Though academic experience is helpful, it is not required for this Fellowship.
Fellows who are selected receive a stipend for completing the program.

Meet the People

  • Faculty and Staff
    Dr. Karen Ward
    Dr. Karen Ward
    Alaska LEND Director & Psychology Faculty
    Dr. Jenny Miller
    Dr. Jenny Miller
    LEND Training Director & Public Health Faculty
    Dr. Siv Fasci
    Dr. Siv Facsi
    Medicine Faculty
    image coming soon
    Kelly McBride
    Special Education Faculty
    Ken Hamrick
    Ken Hamrick
    Family Faculty
    Cathy Sullivan
    Catherine Sullivan
    Nursing Faculty
    Dr. Mary Dallas Allen
    Dr. Mary Dallas Allen 
    Social Work Faculty
    Ellen Brigham
    Ellen Brigham, M.S., CCC-SLP
    Speech-Language Pathology Faculty
    Cary Moore
    Cary Moore 
    Occupational Therapy Faculty
    Tracy Charles-Smith
    Tracy Charles-Smith
    Family Faculty
    Maggie Winston
    Maggie Winston
    Adjunct Faculty
    Meghan Clark
    Meghan Clark
    LEND Training Coordinator
  • Past LEND Fellows
    • 2017-2018 Cohort
      Long Term Fellows 2017-2018
      Amanda Kulikov; John Cartwright; Marisha Bourgeois; Angela Gill; K Nunemann; Rebecca Bjorke; Carolyn Michaud; Kelly McBride; Rita Kittoe; Greta Goto; Kim Dugas
      Medium Term Fellows 2018-2018
      Cora Trowbridge; Rene King; Sydney Krebsbach
    • 2016-2017 Cohort
      Long Term Fellows 2016-2017
      Alicia Mahlow; Jennifer Malecha; Rashayne Zimmer; Anna Maguire; Kristen McKay; Samantha Cowper; Beverly Rivard; Kristin Riall; Stephanie Johnson; Brenda Spofford; Montean Jackson; Valerie Schmitz
      Medium Term Fellows 2016-2017
      Chad Niewendorp; Karli Lopez; Maggie Winston
    • 2015-2016 Cohort
      Long Term Fellows 2015-2016
      Ann Waldron; Lyon Johnson; Charlotte Kimber; Cindy Hensley; Becky Parenteau; Robin McNeilley; Erin Kinavey Wennerstrom; Jada Kahl; Tiffany McCormack; Christina Savel; Christina Bieber; Heidi Shinn Aga; Mel Nobles
    • 2014-2015 Cohort
      Long Term Fellows 2014-2015
      Amy Sundheim; Krista James; Sara Burley; Anna Cook; Mary Elam; Stephanie Cornwell-George; Breanna James; Maureen O'Keefe; Tara Maltby; Jennifer Glorioso; PJ Hatfield-Bauer 
    • 2013-2014 Cohort
      Long Term Fellows 2013-2014
      Anna Spilker; Jeanine Jeffers-Woolf; Maya Heim; Arlene Patuc; Diana Molina; Megan Bolthouse; Jessica Purser; Lejla Berberovic; Sonya King; Emily Vober Reeves; Lisa Balivet; Susan Nugent 
    • 2012-2013 Cohort
      Long Term Fellows 2012-2013
      Carrie Plant; Diane Leithead; Heather Chord; Jayme Ellerbe; Karrianna Gallagher; Lynn Palmer; Loree Rayback; Maureen Harwood; Stephanie Johnson; Ursula Jones
    • 2011-2012 Cohort
      Long Term Fellows 2011-2012
      Betsey Jacobs; Colleen Powers; Gretchen Chamberlain; Hilary Wilson; Karen Gibson; Kathleen Hansen; Laurie Lopez; Lisa Jackson; Marna Schwartz; Maureen McGlone; Melissa Dobbs; Teresa Hurley

LEND Informational Session Recorded 2/20/17

Listen to a recording of an informational session about the Alaska LEND program.  Learn about the program and hear Faculty and a past LEND Fellow talk about the experience.  (Available on YouTube)



The Provider Toolkit is a resource toolkit for primary care providers working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
My Health Toolkit is a resource toolkit for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to support communicating with primary care providers.