Virtual Trainee

Laurel Geist, MA

Laurel Geist, MA
2014-2015 Virtual Trainee

Laurel Geist is a third year Masters student at the Ohio State University Nisonger Center and College of Public Health. Prior to entering the OSU Master’s program in Health Administration, Laurel received her B.S. in Healthcare Management from OSU and worked at the College of Public Health assisting in mental health research, which examined information coordination between state and local mental health organizations. This work sparked an interest in populations served by Medicaid. In 2013, Laurel became a LEND Trainee at the Nisonger Center at OSU where she worked on data management for a research on developing an IFSP rating tool and promotion for incorporating disability education into the medical/nursing school curriculum.

Over the past year, Laurel has been part of a business intelligence team implementing a new information system at the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. She has grown membership for the group of approximately 800 users. The team maintains a user website and travels around the state to train state and local staff on the system. The values of the project reflect "Big Data" concepts, including transparency, democratized data, and user-centered functionality. Most importantly, this endeavor has created a community of users all around Ohio who share ideas, problems, and solutions on how to best serve individuals with disabilities who use state waiver services.

Laurel's goal as Virtual Trainee is to create a community among students from AUCD's many programs through common interests, similar career paths, and shared experiences using social media.

When she is not working or at school, Laurel loves playing with her two dogs, going to yoga class, and doing home improvement projects in Columbus, OH.

Zipporah  Levi-Shackleford, MA

Zipporah Levi-Shackleford, MA
2015 Assistant Virtual Trainee

Zipporah Levi-Shackleford has a Master's of Arts in education specializing in reading and literacy, a Bachelor's of Arts in education specializing in child development, an Associates of Arts in elementary education and an Associates of Science in computer programming and web development. She is currently at Walden University pursuing her Doctorate in special education and at Virginia Commonwealth University pursing a post-baccalaureate certificate in disability leadership as part of the VA-LEND program. Zipporah is the owner of Creative Approach Development Center, LLC, a business that specializes in helping students with disabilities with academic performance, transitioning, social skills and future planning, and is the mother of four children, three of whom have special needs.


What is the AUCD Virtual Trainee?

With AUCD member programs in every US state and territory as well as internationally, our trainees exist all across the world. The Virtual Trainee is an AUCD trainee who works to build a virtual network among these trainees at AUCD member programs.

This individual works remotely from his/her home Center/Program for one academic year to build and enhance a network among trainees at AUCD's UCEDD Centers and LEND Programs. Candidates should be a trainee in the coming year, have previously acquired knowledge of their Center or Program, and be interested in learning about the entire network of centers as well as national issues related to persons with disabilities and special health care needs. The person selected works with AUCD National Office staff, via electronic means, to build communications and information exchange among trainees throughout the network.

Duties of the Virtual Trainee include:

  • Utilizing avenues such as Facebook, listserves, websites, blogs, webinars, email and newsletters to generate communication among trainees
  • Assisting with trainee portions of AUCD face-to-face meetings; co-organizing formal and informal trainee activities at AUCD conferences
  • Attending the fall AUCD Conference and the spring Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC, as well as other events or opportunities of relevance
  • Working with AUCD leaders at Board, Directors, and Council meetings
  • Generating new ideas for effective communication and connections among the network
  • Working with Trainee Liaisons (trainee representatives from Centers) to enhance the communication and networking of trainees
  • Spending approximately 4-5 hours per week on Virtual Trainee tasks, not including event travel

AUCD National Office staff will work with the virtual trainee providing support and suggestions. AUCD will also support the virtual trainee to attend the Fall AUCD Annual Meeting and Conference in Washington, D.C. and the Spring Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C., paying transportation, lodging and registration costs. The Virtual Trainee will receive a stipend per semester from AUCD, with an option to extend through the summer. This position is expected to take approximately 4 hours per week.


  • Be a 2nd year AUCD trainee (LEND or UCEDD) in the coming academic year
  • Work remotely from your home UCEDD/LEND
  • Have knowledge of AUCD network
  • Desire to learn about the AUCD network
  • Interest in national issues related to leadership and persons with disabilities
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Knowledge of virtual communication technologies and social networking
  • Ability to work independently with distance supervision with weekly availability during daytime business hours

Are you interested in applying to be the next Virtual Trainee?

Interested candidates should submit their applications by visiting the application webpage, creating an account, and submitting the following:

  1. your resume or vita
  2. a letter of interest
  3. a statement of support from your Director

Please contact Shannon Haworth or Crystal Pariseau at AUCD with questions.

Apply to be the Virtual Trainee here.

This is an exciting opportunity for a current trainee with experience to increase his/her knowledge of the national network and learn more about national level activities and initiatives. It is also an opportunity to exercise leadership within the AUCD network. Directors and Faculty are urged to encourage trainees to apply for this opportunity and to allow the selected trainee to use this internship as his/her leadership activity for the coming year.

Recent AUCD Virtual Trainees

Elaine Eisenbaum, MSW (Trainee Representative to the Board)
2013-2014 Virtual Trainee

Laurel Geist, MA
2014-2015 Virtual Trainee

Zipporah Levi-Shackleford, MA
2015 Assistant Virtual Trainee

Stephanie Weber, PsyD
2012-2013 Virtual Trainee

Jody Pirtle, PhD
2011-2012 Virtual Trainee

Suzanne Engel
2010-2011 Virtual Trainee

Lisa Jacola
2009-2010 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Liz Terelle
2008-2009 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Terri Abrams
2007-2008 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Rene Jamison
2006-2007 AUCD Virtual Trainee