LEND Family Mentorship Models

Every Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program is unique and offers different academic, clinical, leadership, and community opportunities. This also includes different approaches to family-professional partnerships and training on family-centered care.  Family mentorship of future providers, where families share their lived experience with trainees from professional disciplines, is one approach that several LEND programs across the network have implemented. While not required, many find that family mentorship of professional trainees is an excellent model to promote effective, caring family-professional collaboration and has long-term benefits for the workforce serving individuals with developmental disabilities and autism. A mentor provides guidance to help grow knowledge and experiences to help the mentee grow into the best version of themselves; in LEND, that mentor is a leader in the disability community who has lived experience.

This training strategy gives trainees a look into a “day in the life” of families that cannot be taught in classrooms or found in books. Family mentorship also benefits families themselves. Families learn to mentor, which increases their self-esteem and helps them realize that their lives and stories matter; this may lead them to be active advocates for their children and their community. This document is written by a group of LEND programs for other LEND programs and contains several examples of this experience from across the network.

Thank you to the following LEND programs for sharing examples of family mentorship:

  • Alabama LEND
  • Iowa LEND
  • Kansas LEND
  • Miami LEND
  • Oklahoma LEND
  • Oregon LEND
  • Pittsburgh LEND
  • Rhode Island LEND
  • South Dakota LEND
  • Utah LEND
  • Virginia LEND
  • Washington LEND
  • Wisconsin LEND

This document was developed by members of the LEND Family Discipline Network:

With support from:

Resource Topic(s): Community Engagement, Curriculum Development and Delivery, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Resource Target
LEND/DBP Faculty or Staff, LEND/DBP Leadership, LEND/DBP Trainees
Resource Format(s): Curriculum/Educational Material
Resource Published: 08/25/2022

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Contact Information:

Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Jeanette Cordova
[email protected]


1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910


[email protected]

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