Susan Zimmermann is a woman with mid length blond hair wearing a necklace with purple beads and a black sweater

Susan Zimmermann

Family Faculty
Office: Institute on Disability, 10 West Edge Drive, Suite 101, Durham, NH 03824

Professional Background

Susan Zimmermann, PhD, is Family Faculty and the Leadership Placement Coordinator for NH-ME LEND. In the seminars she leads, she weaves together her experiences raising her son with Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with her background in medical sociology to provide trainees with a rich understanding of the larger social contexts that shape individual and family experiences with disability. In her role as Leadership Placement Coordinator, she maintains and establishes community partnerships across the state of New Hampshire to offer trainees opportunities for projects that will enhance their own leadership skills and development. In addition to her work with NH-ME LEND, Susan is a consultant for the Heightened Scrutiny Process for the Home and Community-Based Settings Regulation. In this role, she conducts site visits at residential homes for persons with disabilities and writes executive summaries for state review. She also was a consultant for the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities, working with a team to develop and conduct trainings for direct support professionals on how to promote a more robust community life for their clients with disabilities. This work was part of the Living Well Quality Framework grant through the Institute on Disability.

Susan completed her doctorate in medical sociology at Brown University in 1996 and a post-doctoral fellowship in mental health services research at Rutgers University two years later. In 1999, she accepted a position as a research associate at Dartmouth’s Psychiatric Research Center in Lebanon, NH, where she coordinated a study at the VA hospital in White River Junction, VT, that focused on interventions for elder veterans with mental health and alcohol-related disabilities. This research was part of a larger, multi-site Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study. 

Prior to joining NH-ME LEND faculty in 2019, Susan was actively involved in the disability community on a volunteer basis while raising her two sons. She co-founded Best Buddies NH, a non-profit organization that fosters friendships between individuals with and without disabilities throughout New Hampshire schools. During this time, she also volunteered at the New Hampshire Healing Sport Association in Sunapee, NH, where she coached children and adults with a wide range of neurodevelopmental and physical disabilities in skiing during the winter and kayaking during the summer.  More recently, in 2018, Susan chaired the Disability Diagnosis Dialogue Task Force through ABLE-NH (Advocates Building Lasting Equality). The mission of the task force is to improve the ways in which medical teams deliver diagnoses of disability to families. Susan graduated from the University of New Hampshire’s Leadership Series in 2018 and NH-ME LEND in 2019.  These two programs helped Susan understand how to connect her personal experiences with raising her son to her educational and professional backgrounds to find meaningful work in the field of disability.


  • Traineeship in Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND), University of New Hampshire, 2019
  • Institute on Disability Leadership Series, University of New Hampshire, 2018
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Mental Health Services Research, Rutgers University’s Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, 1999
  • PhD, Sociology, Brown University, 1996
  • MA, Sociology, Brown University, 1993
  • BA, Sociology (major), Colby College, 1988