Sarah Smith is a woman with blonde hair and a black blouse standing in front of a brick building on the UNH campus.

Sarah Smith, PhD, new NH-ME LEND director.

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Sarah Smith as New Hampshire-Maine Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NH-ME LEND) Director, while also maintaining her current role as associate professor in the University of New Hampshire’s Occupational Therapy department. Dr. Smith’s background includes 15 years as a pediatric occupational therapist focusing on children with autism and their families. She began her work in academia in 2013, moving to the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of New Hampshire in 2017. She started collaborating with NH-ME LEND in 2022, where she assisted with evidence-based practices and content.

“NH-ME LEND is a federally-funded collaboration among the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies at the University of Maine, and the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine. In her role, Dr. Smith will provide vision, leadership, and direction for the NH-ME LEND program, lead the interdisciplinary LEND faculty, establish liaisons with other UCEDD and LEND programs, and cultivate local, state, regional and federal partnerships," says Betsy Humphreys, current NH-ME LEND Director.

Dr. Smith is deeply passionate about her work in health processes for children with disabilities and their families. She has extensive experience publishing, presenting, and peer-reviewing projects related to autism, occupational therapy, and maternal health. She is also a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the National Council on Family Relations.

“Sarah’s diverse professional background as a pediatric OT, professor, and researcher will enhance the learning experience of LEND trainees,” says Kelly Nye-Lengerman, Director of the Institute on Disability. “Her broad range of experiences model the value of interdisciplinary practices grounded in person and family-centered approaches.”

Dr. Smith received her BS in Occupational Therapy from Colorado State University, and her DSc in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.  She was awarded the UNH College of Health and Human Services Excellence in Teaching Award in 2021, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Department of Rehabilitation Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2022.

“I am honored and excited to be the incoming director of the NH-ME LEND program,” says Sarah. “As a pediatric occupational therapist, I worked in school and outpatient practice settings before transitioning to academia, where I’ve been for the past decade. My practice experience, teaching, and research all center on translating and implementing evidence-based practices to support children with health care needs and their families toward meaningful participation in the everyday activities that bring purpose to families’ lives. I look forward to supporting the NH-ME LEND program faculty, staff, trainees, and regional and federal partners to continue LEND’s 33-year history of providing effective graduate-level interdisciplinary leadership training for professionals, families, and self-advocates to improve systems of care for individuals with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities.”