Iowa LEND Faculty & Staff

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Core Faculty & Staff

Dianne McBrien photoDianne McBrien, MD, LEND Program Director

Email: [email protected]


I am a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, and the medical director of the Center for Disabilities and Development. I actually started my career in developmental and behavioral pediatrics as a LEND trainee, and now as program director, I am fortunate to help others access the rich educational experience that is LEND. It is a privilege to watch the trainees develop into leaders, and I always learn so much from them.


Lane Strathearn photoLane Strathearn, MD, PhD, ILEND Research Director, and Chair, ILEND Research Committee

Email: [email protected]



Derrick Willis new photoDerrick Willis, MPA, Iowa UCEDD Director, Core Faculty for Diversity

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-678-8414

I am the Director of Iowa’s UCEDD, one of 67 Centers in the United States and Territories. I currently serve on the national Board for the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), a 650 million dollar disability advocacy center. I love the pre-service approach of LEND and its focus on leadership and health disparities. Each year I help recruit trainees from diverse backgrounds and look forward to participating in LEND seminars.


Photo Von LehmdenKelly Von Lehmden, BBA, Interdisciplinary Training Manager and LEND Training Director

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-356-1172

I joined the LEND program in 2006. In my role, I design and implement the training curriculum and lead the policy experience for LEND. I consider it a privilege to work with the trainees and future leaders, and share the life experiences of being a parent of a daughter with a disability.


Julie Temple photoJulie Temple, MLS, LEND Interdisciplinary Training Coordinator

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-353-8869

My role is to support the LEND faculty, staff and trainees. When I began working with the LEND program in 2015, I had little exposure to or knowledge of the disability world or about advocating for myself and others. But through LEND, I have had the opportunity to learn and grow alongside the trainees each year, which is one of the things I enjoy the most about my job! Something that I’ve experienced at CDD and in LEND is that no matter how much or little you think you know about a topic, there is always more you can learn.


Lori Vander Velden photoLori Vander Velden, BBA, Administrative Services Coordinator

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-678-7266

I am so glad I joined the LEND team in October of 2020.  I support the most incredibly passionate staff of the LEND Program.  I spend my days organizing, communicating, inviting, planning and so much more. In return I am enlightened, motivated, and grateful to learn ways that we all can improve the world for people with disabilities. Please contact me with any requests or questions you may have.


Dayrin Lovan LEND staff photoDayrin Lovan, Community Outreach Liaison

Email: [email protected]


I work as a local congregational pastor and have worked for IC Compassion, which supports underserved communities. I graduated from Iowa’s Leadership Education in Neurological and related Disabilities (LEND) program, and I served as a cultural liaison as a second year fellow. I am also a 2021 Iowa Family Leadership Training Institute graduate. I have two sons and my youngest son has ASD. LEND gave me the privilege to create bridges of opportunity for our community with disabilities that I love and respect. My hope is to build bridges together that bring resources and supports to our communities. I feel very blessed to be part of this amazing team of hard workers at the UCEDD, LEND, and CDD.    


Iowa LEND Core Faculty


Emily Andrews photoEmily Andrews, AuD, CCC-A, Core Faculty for Audiology

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-384-6894


Michael Baca new photoMichael Baca, MHA, Core Faculty for Healthcare Administration

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-356-0768

In my role as Administrator for the Center for Disabilities and Development, I plan, direct and evaluate all administrative and clinical functions within our department, and further develop and guide the strategic vision for our teams. What I enjoy most about the LEND program is the opportunity to mentor the MHA trainees in addition to learning from all other trainees from each discipline. As we aim to develop the next generation of leaders in health care delivery systems for individuals with developmental disabilities, it is fun to watch our trainees grow from day one through graduation.


Diane Brenneman photoDiane Zaerr Brenneman, DMin, FPSS, Core Faculty for Family

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-356-8637

I am a family member of children with disabilities and serve as a Family Navigator with the Division of Child and Community Health. In addition, I serve as the Division Training Coordinator. Our family training seeks to empower families of children and youth with special health care needs to be advocates and leaders in their families, communities and the system of care in our state and nation. I was a LEND trainee and really benefitted from the didactics and the trip to AUCD in Washington, D.C. I remember sitting with our group in Rep. Loebsack’s office, and when I told him I was a family navigator, he replied, “My mom could have used a family navigator when we were growing up!”


Deb Downey photoDebora A. Downey, PhD, CCC-SLP, Core Faculty for Speech-Language Pathology

Email: [email protected]

Phone number:  356-3437

I am a speech-language pathologist.

Learning is a passion of mine.

Educating others to allow them to live their best life is a goal of mine.

Nurturing other’s passion for learning and education is why I love LEND so much.

Dedication and drive are qualities I value.


Ed Esbeck photoEdward Esbeck, Self-Advocacy Coordinator, Core Faculty for Self-Advocacy

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: N/A

As a former self-advocate ILEND trainee, I was given the opportunity to go back to Uganda to see where I come from, learn about disabilities there, and see how I can help people with disabilities in other parts of the world by sharing my story and experiences. As a self-advocacy coordinator for Iowa’s UCEDD, I’ve learned to work with other organizations that serve people with disabilities in the community. ILEND helped me to grow my leadership and advocacy skills, and that’s why I love the LEND program. I also love working with and mentoring new self-advocate trainees to help them grow their own leadership and advocacy skills through LEND.


Dawn Graber photoDawn Graber, BA, Parents as Mentors (PAM) Coordinator

Email: [email protected]

Phone: N/A


I am a former LEND Family Trainee, the Parents as Mentors Program Coordinator, and the mother of two children with complex special healthcare needs. My family has spent countless hours at the Center for Disabilities and Development and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Now as a member of the LEND staff, I get the privilege of connecting LEND trainees with families of children with special healthcare needs for a unique learning opportunity for connection and understanding. My vision is for family-centered care to be the standard in healthcare and education through the leadership and advocacy of our LEND trainees in partnership with families.


Cheryll Jones, ARNP, CPNP, FAANP, ILEND Title V Coordinator for Community Based Experiences

Email:  [email protected]

Phone number:  641-682-8145

I provide evaluation, diagnosis and care coordination for children and youth with special heath care needs and their families. In my work, I have the privilege of working with Family Navigators who are so essential in providing services to our families. Working with LEND is a great opportunity to work with our future leaders in the area of disability services.  


Erica Kaldenberg photoErica Kaldenberg, PhD, Core Faculty for Education 

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-384-0525


I am an associate research scientist for the UI REACH Program. In my role, I oversee data collection processes within our program evaluation and research efforts, efforts aimed at maximizing student success and outcomes. My research interests include postsecondary education programming for students with intellectual and cognitive disabilities including transition planning and career preparation. I have been supporting individuals with disabilities in the community and education settings for 17 years, and look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with LEND trainees.  


Vanessa Kimm photoVanessa Kimm, DNP, ARNP, CPNP-PC, Core Faculty for Nursing

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-335-7043

I am faculty in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of Iowa College of Nursing and also have a part-time practice in the Autism Center at the Stead Family Children's Hospital Center for Disabilities and Development. I successfully helped advocate for an insurance mandate to cover applied behavioral analysis therapy for Iowa children with autism as part of my DNP doctoral project. I am passionate about advocating for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, and love that the LEND program helps provide students with an interdisciplinary perspective on addressing the multifaceted needs of children with special needs, and providing compassionate and comprehensive support to their families.


Katie Laubscher photoKatie Laubscher, PT, DPT, Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Pediatric Physical Therapy, Core Faculty for Physical Therapy

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-356-1173

I started my career after PT school as a LEND trainee at the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center at Oregon Health and Science University. That experience spurred my commitment to interdisciplinary teams, family-centered care, and simultaneous involvement in teaching, advocacy, and evidence-informed practice. I consider it an honor to be able to touch on all of these aspects in my current work – listening to and providing assessment and recommendations for a family with an infant with developmental concerns on one of our clinical teams, working with a family and other providers to justify and advocate for coverage of medically necessary adaptive equipment, or participating in clinical research with physical therapists around the country to help inform efficacy of potential medical treatments. With each of these activities, students at varying stages of learning work to absorb clinical knowledge, but also to understand and appreciate the perspective of patients and their families. My hope is that I can use my knowledge and experience to guide and empower children and their families to optimize engagement in life activities, as well as to help encourage a mode of collaborative practice for students preparing to work with children and their families.


Kecia Leary photoKecia Leary, DDS, MS, Associate Professor (Clinical) Pediatric Dentistry, Core Faculty for Pediatric Dentistry

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-335-8147

I am a former LEND trainee, and I never imagined I would get the chance to give back to a training program that provided so much to me in my clinical practice.  What I love about LEND is that it empowers providers to learn how to provide health care to all individuals. Our interactions with individual families help to break down barriers that many face, and encourage us (as health care providers, and more specifically, dentists) to be leaders within our profession and the community. We learn how important it is to advocate for oral health care for all children, not just provide care.


Amy Lesch photoAmy Lesch, DDS, MS, Clinical Assistant Professor in Pediatric Dentistry, Core Faculty for Pediatric Dentistry

Email: [email protected]

I am a faculty member at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and the associate program director for the pediatric dentistry residency program. As a pediatric dentist who sees patients at the Center for Disability and Development, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in Iowa LEND as a trainee during residency. The experiences and knowledge that I gained as part of this program have been invaluable.


Jennifer Manternach, PNP, Core Faculty for Nursing

Jennifer Manternach photoEmail: [email protected]

Phone: 319-467-6013



I am a certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with a dual degree in Psychiatric Mental Health and work at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Center for Disabilities and Development. I am an Iowa LEND graduate who found the passion for caring for children with disabilities and behavioral health disorders while working as a school nurse. LEND has given me a new and multidimensional perspective on how children with disabilities and their families want to be treated by medical providers. I look forward to sharing how my LEND experience has shifted the way I care for my patients and their families.


Nichole Nidey portrait photoNichole Nidey, Core Faculty for Public Health

Email: [email protected]




Matt O'Brien photoMatthew O’Brien, PhD, BCBA-D, Core Faculty for Psychology, ABA and Research

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319.384.9827

I am a psychologist and behavior analyst, involved in both clinical and research work in severe and challenging behavior. I am also involved in educating future healthcare providers on disability-related issues. I have benefitted greatly through my involvement in LEND, both as a trainee and now as a discipline director.


Caitlin Owens photoCaitlin Owens, LMSW, Iowa UCEDD Associate Director, Core Faculty for Social Work

Email: [email protected]

Phone number: 319-356-7023

I am the Associate Director for the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the Center for Disabilities and Development. I have worked in the field of mental health and disability services for over fifteen years, and have experience in both direct clinical and macro-level practice. I am a former LEND trainee and credit the experience with much of the success I have had in my career, and certainly, with the depth of knowledge I have about disability, policy, and leadership. I love working with the LEND program and mentoring social work students.


Marcy Rosenbaum photoMarcy Rosenbaum, PhD, ILEND Program Evaluator

Email: [email protected]

Phone number:319-335-8612

I am a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Faculty Development Consultant for the Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education. My research and teaching focuses on evaluation of medical education, faculty development and clinician-patient communication. I have served as the evaluation consultant for ILEND since 2005. Every year I have the privilege of summarizing trainees’ evaluation of their experiences in the program. Participants consistently report that the ILEND program is unique in providing interactive opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and exchange about developmental disabilities, leadership and advocacy. 


Heidi Steinkamp photoHeidi Steinkamp, DDS, PhD, MS, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Dentistry, Core Faculty for Pediatric Dentistry

Email: [email protected]



Photograph of Judy WarthJudy Warth, BBA, CESP, Core Faculty for Community Partners, Employment, and Transition

Email: [email protected]

Phone number:  319-936-8290

My role is employment and transition.  My passion is helping people with disabilities grow into the lives they desire.  I love LEND for a thousand reasons, but my secondary (perhaps primary role) is supporting the self-advocacy team and all trainees in LEND to get the supports they need, and helping them develop passion and a vision of possibilities for people with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in the communities they choose.