Retiring Va-LEND Faculty Member Leaves with a Song

By Jennifer Drummond

June 16, 2022

It is the belief of many, particularly musicians that music can inspire, uplift, tell a story and add so much value that it is often incalculable. It is this value Lissa Power-deFur, PhD brought to Va-LEND as the Speech-language pathology faculty member since 2011, even though she has worked in this field for over 40 years. In her role at Va-LEND, she advised and supported students with their research and leadership activities. However, this summer she will move from a faculty position into retirement. Dr. Power-deFur is also the Professor Emeritus of Communication Sciences and Disorders Interim Dean, College of Education, Health, and Human Services at Longwood University where she has been for 18 years. She previously worked at the Va Dept of Education for the same amount time. “Lissa and I have served on the Va-LEND faculty together for nine years. During that time, in addition to providing Va-LEND with much needed perspective as SLP faculty, I've always appreciated Lissa's knowledge of local resources, student-centeredness, and her adherence to high standards for student performance. She has always been a great leader in the Va-LEND faculty, pushing difficult discussions and helping find solutions to challenges that have faced the program, said Va-LEND Director, Matthew Bogenschutz, Ph.D.

During her time at Va-LEND, Power-deFur shared a couple of her fondest memories which included working with Va-LEND’s interdisciplinary clinics, which are a core part of the curriculum at Va-LEND and the collaborative discussions during the in-person faculty meetings. “Working with Hayes E. Willis Health Center, of Richmond, we frequently worked with Spanish interpreters/brokers and relied on their input to develop a meaningful plan. I found it quite rewarding to work with trainees on the visits we made to families homes to prepare for the clinics and share the clinic results.  I am also grateful for the many friendships I created and enjoy the opportunity to maintain these through periodic dinners together.” In addition, Power-deFur said she also gained a better appreciation of the experiences of the families of persons with disabilities.

Bogenschutz added, “Aside from being a steady voice aimed at constantly making Va-LEND the best program possible, Lissa has also been instrumental in establishing and formalizing VCU's partnership with Longwood University. This partnership has firmly brought SLP and audiology into Va-LEND's areas of expertise, and has also been an important step for Va-LEND as we strive to become a statewide program, since the partnership with Longwood serves as a successful model for how we can forge more partnerships outside of VCU,” said Bogenschutz.

Power-deFur spoke of what has kept her motivated to be part of Va-LEND. She said, “I love the interprofessional education and the practice aspect of LEND. I personally have learned a lot from my colleagues and the perspective of the family faculty provided has been invaluable for me.” She hopes the Va-LEND program will continue to implement the best practices of interprofessional education and guide trainees in their development of cultural humility. In her retirement, she plans to spend more time gardening, playing the piano and being a “Grammie.”  “I'll miss Lissa's steady demeanor, the way that she brings a thoughtful voice of experience to Va-LEND discussions, her firm focus on preparing excellent practitioners, and I've always admired how Lissa can step forward to take a stand, while leaving space for others to share their own ideas. I'm so grateful for all that I've learned from Lissa and for all her many contributions to Va-LEND,” said Bogenschutz.  Power-deFur summed up Va-LEND with a song titled, “You Raise Me Up.” “Hopefully Va-LEND provides this experience to the trainees and the families we serve and collaborate with during LEND and beyond,” she said.