Emerging Leader Interns


With AUCD member programs in every state and territory, our trainees have an incredibly powerful collective reach. The Virtual Trainee works remotely from his/her home Center or Program for one academic year to build and enhance a network among trainees across all 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) and 43 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs.

This is an exciting opportunity for a current trainee to develop their leadership and communication skills, promote the meaningful exchange of information about issues related to people with disabilities and special health needs, and become more familiar with the broader AUCD network while having a national impact on the disability field. Learn about former Virtual Trainees and their experiences below. 

Current Emerging Leaders Interns
Shayla Colins

Shayla Colins
2018-2019 Emerging Leader Intern

Shayla Collins and her husband Marcus are the parents of two young children with special healthcare needs. That "assignment" eventually lead her to the UW LEND Program, where she is a second year Family Fellow.

In addition to her participation in the LEND Program, she is a consultant on a research project at Seattle Children's Hospital about mindfulness and its benefits for parents of children with special healthcare needs. She also recently completed a fellowship at the WA State Developmental Disabilities Council and is a trained National Alliance on Mental Illness "Family 2 Family" Program instructor.

When Shayla can carve out some spare time, she enjoys sleeping, eating, partaking in outdoor adventures with her family, reading and of course thrifting...in that order.


Nell Koneczny

Nell Koneczny
2018-2019 Emerging Leader Intern

Nell Koneczny is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in Disability Studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and European Studies at Vanderbilt University. In 2017-18, she was an AUCD UCEDD Diversity Fellow. Under this support and with a disabled student group at UIC, she co-created an accessible classroom training for UIC faculty, administrators, and teaching assistants. This training introduced instructors and university decision-makers to disability culture, disability community, and practices that make classrooms welcoming for disabled students. Her doctoral research examines professor perspectives on disability, accessibility and inclusion in the classroom. Along with her academic work, she is a disability justice activist who focuses on promoting and cultivating accessible spaces. In her free time, Nell enjoys watching Disney movies and playing Pokemon.

Image description: A white woman with short black hair wears thick, black-rimmed glasses and smiles at the camera. She also wears a white collared shirt with a repeating dark lined pattern over it, a black and gold diagonal stripe bow tie, and a glass pendant necklace. She leans back on the concrete structure behind her.


Recent AUCD Virtual Trainees

Shayla Colins
2018-2019 Emerging Leader Intern

Nell Koneczny
2018-2019 Emerging Leader Intern

LaKesha Pettigrew
2017-2018 Virtual Trainee

Brett Enneking, PsyD
2018 Assistant Virtual Trainee

Elizabeth (Liz) Koss
2016-2017 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Sheida Khamsi, M.Ed.
2017 Assistant Virtual Trainee

Brandon Eddy, MA, CF-SLP
2016 Assistant Virtual Trainee

Alysa Vos, MS, BCBA
2015-2016 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Laurel Geist, MA
2014-2015 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Zipporah Levi-Shackleford, MA
2015 Assistant AUCD Virtual Trainee

Elaine Eisenbaum, MSW
2013-2014 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Stephanie Weber, PsyD
2012-2013 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Jody Pirtle, PhD
2011-2012 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Suzanne Engel
2010-2011 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Lisa Jacola
2009-2010 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Liz Terelle
2008-2009 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Terri Abrams
2007-2008 AUCD Virtual Trainee

Rene Jamison
2006-2007 AUCD Virtual Trainee