Longtime Va-LEND Faculty Member Moving On

December 6, 2018

Va-LEND's (Virginia Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) tagline states, "Celebrating Over 23 years of Training the Next Generation of Maternal and Child Health Leaders." However, Va-LEND is also celebrating 23 years of unwavering leadership of Laura Duncan, MPH, RD, CRC. A faculty member since 1995, this pillar of Va-LEND is leaving the program. Duncan, whose area is in nutrition, specializing in the field of inborn errors of metabolism was asked to be part of Va-LEND in the very beginning of the program. "I was just finishing my first masters at that time and was asked if I would be interested. Naturally, I said yes. I remember one of the initial informational meetings, on a Saturday on the first floor of Sanger Hall," at the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, Duncan recalls. Duncan has enjoyed watching Va-LEND grow into the effective program it is today. While, she didn't say it, It's clear, her impact greatly contributed to Va-LEND's success. Va-LEND added the Family Mentorship program, an autism specialty, has included students from the Disability Law Center, and found ways to include those working in Special Education - all during Duncan's tenure. In addition, Va-LEND has incorporated much more technology as a tool for learning.

"Working with Va-LEND has broadened my own understanding of the wide realm of resources available for families and this has made me a better practitioner for the families with whom I work. I have been most inspired by the families we meet in our Interdisciplinary Clinics who are tremendously resourceful and devoted to their children's care," she said. When Duncan shared of her leaving this past September, with faculty and staff, all were supportive, however, her effective leadership and selfless commitment to Va-LEND will me missed. "I am hoping to be better able to keep a more usual work day so that I can spend more time with many other interests that I have. I know that Va-LEND will continue to grow and thrive."