NH-ME LEND 2020 Cohort Raises Expectations for All by Meaghan Cullinane

July 20, 2020

"No one rises to low expectations." New Mexican Congresswoman Deborah Haaland's words motivated leaders and trainees alike during the Hill Visit day at the AUCD conference in Washington DC, "Leading Change Together," this past November. These words were shared with the NH-ME LEND cohort and guided us through a rigorous training year working to improve the health and education of children and youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities by engaging in training related to interdisciplinary, family-centered, culturally competent systems of care.

As the NH-ME LEND training year wrapped up with a Virtual Capstone Poster Presentation And Celebration on May 1st, I was particularly inspired by the work of my colleague, Devyn Malone. Devyn is a Social Work Trainee in the NH-ME LEND cohort this year who experiences cerebral palsy. Devyn epitomizes Deborah Haaland's words and integrates them into who she is and the work that she does.

Devyn spent this past year working with the Genetics Education Materials for School Success(GEMSS) website to explore the importance of family and sharing family stories on school success for children with genetic disorders.

She worked with the support of her leadership partner, New England Regional Genetics Network(NERGN). Devyn's research shows the significance of the family relationship and the strength and knowledge garnered by sharing stories. Her message is that, "we must have high expectations for all kids". The stories on the GEMSS website connect people and promote awareness and education to raise expectations.


Devyn's family has always held her to the highest of expectations and she has far exceeded them. "It is always what was expected of me. It was expected that I would go to college. People thought I would be going to High School until I was 21 but I was in college prep classes and preparing to go to the university. I had note taker support, and the support of assistive technology, and I was preparing for college." Devyn's words embody the power of merging personal stories and professional messages to raise expectations for all in our work in the disability community.

The leadership work of the entire NH-ME LEND cohort, along with Devyn, exemplifies the words of Deborah Haaland. See the link below to explore their work.