This year’s NH-ME LEND cohort participated in two year-end events in May to showcase and celebrate their accomplishments: the annual Capstone Poster Session and the inaugural Institute on Disability (IOD) Community Celebration.

a room full of diverse people mingle surrounded by academic posters that are being presented

NH-ME LEND Trainees present their Capstone Posters to Faculty and Community Partners at the 2023 NH-ME LEND Capstone Poster Session.

The Capstone Poster Session, held at the University of New Hampshire, culminated 8 months of hard work by 17 dedicated trainees on their leadership projects. During the event, posters were presented to over 60 faculty members and community partners. Trainees discussed the impact of their work on the lives of people with disabilities and reflected on their growth as leaders. There were a broad range of topics encompassing advocacy, policy, family engagement, transition to adulthood, child development, and health equity. The event concluded with the presentation of LEND certificates, well-earned accolades, and a celebratory lunch.  Trainee posters can be found on the UNH Graduate Research Conference webpage.

Three women stand togehter with arms around each other in front of poster presentations smiling.

NH-ME LEND Capstone Poster Session: from left to right Trish Cox (Faculty), Samantha Barb (Trainee), and Heidi Cloutier (Leadership Partner, IOD)

The first annual IOD Community Celebration recognized over 100 graduates and trainees from UNH-4U, Building Futures Together, the NH Leadership Series and NH-ME LEND. It truly exemplified the IOD’s mission to build local, state, and national capacities to respond to the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families through professional development opportunities.

Building Futures Together recognized their graduates who have furthered their education to more effectively work as paraprofessionals in the behavioral health field with children, youth and caregivers who have been impacted by substance misuse.

UNH-4U, an inclusive post-secondary education program for students with intellectual disability, celebrated their first graduating cohort of three amazing students.

The NH Leadership series recognized the class of 2023 and awarded the Brianna Dillon Leadership Medal to Alicia Buono (LEND 2017) for her commitment to bridging gaps and inspiring change through her work at Community Crossroads and ABLE NH.

The 2023 NH-ME LEND cohort was acknowledged by Stacy Driscoll on behalf of Betsy Humphreys, “Our NH-ME LEND community is an extraordinary group of individuals with a vision for inclusion, equity, and justice and deep commitment to improving the lives of children and youth with developmental disabilities.”  

A woman with long wavy dark hair in light color tweed dress stands speaking at a podium, spotlighted in a dark room.

Gabriela Fuentes delivers the NH-ME LEND address at the IOD Community Celebration on May 8th, 2023.

Gabriela Fuentes eloquently spoke on behalf of the 2023 cohort, “To me, LEND is more than just a program, it is a community. A community that I will forever belong to, a family comprised of individuals from different backgrounds working towards the same goals....As a class, our vision for inclusion is for a just, rational, and well world. We hope to provide continuous education and advocacy throughout all systems of care to enhance equality and resources for marginalized groups.  We want to be the voice for those that do not have a seat at the table to make decisions and share their perspective.”

Congratulations to all!