WI LEND Names New Director

March 15, 2023

Gail S. Chödrön, PhD, was recently named director of the Wisconsin LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) program, located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Waisman Center UCEDD. WI LEND is part of a national network of training programs that prepare professionals, graduate students, and individuals with lived experience of developmental disability (as an individual or family member) for leadership and advanced professional practice to promote interdisciplinary, culturally and linguistically responsive, person- and family-centered systems of care.

Chödrön completed her PhD in public health at the University of Toronto. She is also a LEND alumna and graduated from the WI LEND program as a family fellow in 2008. She has been part of the WI LEND faculty ever since, most recently serving as training director. At the UCEDD, she serves in a leadership role for center-wide community training and technical assistance. As a social scientist, Chödrön’s research, teaching, and work in the community focus on early identification of autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities and access to service systems for socially and economically marginalized families, with a strong focus on community-participatory approaches to identifying and responding to barriers to service system access.

“LEND taught me how to bring my professional training together with my lived experience as the parent of an autistic daughter,” said Chödrön. “That lesson shaped how I approach the program. I think it’s valuable to view LEND as setting a table where a diverse set of emerging leaders can bring their full selves to work collaboratively toward high quality systems of care. I tell trainees, once you sit down at this table that is LEND, you are equal—each of us brings a toolkit filled with different knowledge, training, and lived experience, and we can use all of it.”