For more information contact Lianne Lissauer, Maine LEND program coordinator at (207) 221-4582.
Director of the ME Developmental Disabilities Council
Erika Lichter, Sc.D., M.A., M.S.
Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist, State of Maine and Associate Research Professor, University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service
Stephen Meister, M.D.
Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics
Medical Director of the Edmund N. Ervin Pediatric Center at MaineGeneral Medical Center
Mother of a child with ND
Maine LEND is a federally-funded program in Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities. Spanning a spectrum of specializations, our trainees engage in didactic, clinical, and leadership experiences in order to provide enhanced and expanded services to those in Maine with autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or other neurodevelopmental disabilities, their families, and their schools.
Allie, a 2022–2023 LEND trainee, is completing her Master of Occupational Therapy degree at the University of New England. Allie is excited for her career as an Occupational Therapist. She has a passion for the ways our everyday habits and hobbies can promote physical and mental health. Her favorite hobby is gardening with children, including her own two daughters.
Allie has worked as an educational technician, substitute teacher, farmer, school garden coordinator, seamstress, and woodworker. She has dedicated herself to community organizations that bring opportunities for work and play to everyone in the neighborhood. She hopes to help others find joy through meaningful work, health-promoting leisure pursuits, and inclusive community engagement.
As a L.E.N.D. trainee, Allie strives for a future of providing community-based care to children and families in Maine. From a simple wish of providing more opportunities for people to play in the dirt, she now hopes to enhance the social and occupational well-being of marginalized groups. Her favorite part of L.E.N.D. is listening to the lived experiences of advocates and self-advocates for disability rights. She is proud to be one of the "helpers."
Jenna is in her third and final year of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UNE. She received her B.S. from James Madison University in Health Sciences in 2020.
Prior to graduate school, Jenna worked for her local county’s parks and recreation department as an “inclusion companion.” She attended summer camps with children with disabilities to ensure their voices were being heard and needs were being met. She has a passion for working with children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and is eager to expand her knowledge in this area through LEND and her last clinical placement in the Auburn school district.
Jenna has observed many different health care settings, such as inpatient rehab, outpatient sports, outpatient orthopedics, and pediatric clinics. In 2019, she was able to study abroad in Perth, Western Australia and was an athletic trainer for a semi-professional Australian football team. Although she loved this experience and learned a lot, Jenna is excited to continue working in the pediatric setting.
Jenna loves to hang out with her friends, be outside, watch documentaries, and read in her spare time.
Grace is a second-year doctoral student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Prior to beginning graduate school, she received her B.S. in Special Education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2017 and her Master’s of Education in Special Education in 2020. Grace is interested in determining the barriers to and facilitators of employment for people with autism.
Grace has experience in the school setting as an educator in an Occupational Course of Study (OCS) program. This program is designed to prepare high school students with mild-moderate disabilities for the workforce following high school graduation.
In her free time, Grace enjoys spending time with loved ones, reading, and cuddling with her dog Groot and two cats, Nova and Cam.
Through the LEND program, Grace hopes to take advantage of the interdisciplinary knowledge exchange that takes place in didactics and between other LEND trainees to inform her research. She is excited to learn more about the many professions that serve people with disabilities and build her leadership skills.
Hallie is currently in her final year of her clinical Doctorate in Audiology at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. Prior to beginning her doctoral program Hallie received her B.A. from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY in Speech Pathology and Audiology.
Hallie is very excited that she has had the opportunity to start her Audiology career at the Northeast Hearing and Speech Center in Portland, Maine. She loves working with the pediatric population due to the energy and fun they bring to each appointment. One of Hallie’s favorite things about audiology is the ability to help people communicate with their loved ones. She is passionate about equity and justice for those who are neuroatypical. Hallie has loved her time in LEND and has already learned so much from her interdisciplinary team and FIT Family. She is very grateful for the opportunity to make such great professional relationships and friendships with her cohort.
Hallie moved to Maine in June and has loved exploring the many beaches and trails Southern Maine has to offer. In her free time, she loves to read, run, and swim.
Shannon is the parent to a lovely young man who lives with Autism as well as other abilities. She is starting her first year of the M.S.W. program at UNE. She graduated from the University of Maine Augusta with both a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a B.S. in Mental Health and Human Services. She has worked in human services as a Part C coordinator at CDS and as a children’s case manager.
Shannon is very passionate about adaptive sports programs. Her son will be on the Horizons Adaptive Race Team (HART) this winter and participate in races all over New England.
Shannon has been a strong advocate not only for her son but for other families and children as well. Shannon has a strong interest in learning more about legislation and helping others understand how a bill becomes a law and helping parents learn how to contact their local legislators.
Jacqueline is a School Psychology Psy.D. Candidate from the University of Southern Maine. She is in her fifth and final year of the doctoral program. She holds her M.S. in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis. Along with LEND, she is completing her pre-doctoral internship at the Portland Public School District. She is also serving as one of the Student Representatives for the Maine Association of School Psychologists (MASP). Additionally, she is completing her dissertation researching threat assessments.
Before starting her internship, Jacqueline worked as an in-home Behavioral Health Professional and Graduate Assistant. She also volunteered with her dog Sahara providing Pet-Assisted Therapy in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and libraries. She moved to Maine from Rhode Island with her fiancé and two dogs. She had previously attended the University of Rhode Island.
With the help of LEND, Jacqueline wants to achieve more competency working with people of all ages with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. She hopes to gain a deeper understanding of different neurodevelopmental disabilities and the effective services that can be provided at all ages. She also wishes to learn more about helping students with disabilities transition from school into the workforce. She enjoys working with her interdisciplinary teammates at LEND.
Carlee is an advanced standing student in her final year at the University of New England in Portland and will receive her Master’s in Social Work in May of 2023. Prior, Carlee attended the University of New England in Biddeford where she graduated with her Bachelor of Social Work in 2022.
Carlee is immensely passionate about working with children, education, advocacy, and mental health in early childhood. Carlee believes in approaching her work from a strengths-based perspective, recognizing that all individuals inherently hold strengths and resilience, and understands the utmost importance of meeting people where they are. She acknowledges the dignity and worth of every individual, advocating for social justice and accessibility as much as humanly possible.
In her free time, Carlee enjoys spending time with loved ones, going for long drives, listening to podcasts and music, drinking iced coffee, and lounging in comfy pajamas as often as possible.
Carlee is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the LEND Program, especially for the opportunity to learn more about neurodevelopmental and related disabilities, the chance to collaborate with other passionate professionals, and to be part of a program much greater than herself.
Lydia Sack, M.S., CF-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist who works for Northeast Hearing and Speech Center in Portland, Maine. She is currently working as an early interventionist at Children’s Odyssey preschool. Lydia earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Vermont and a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of New Hampshire.
Lydia is passionate about early childhood language development and working with children on the autism spectrum. She has completed clinical practicums in elementary schools and private practice settings in southern NH, working with children ages 0-18. Areas of special interest include autism spectrum, articulation/phonology disorders, fluency disorders, and childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). Lydia has studied American Sign Language is a certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
In her free time, Lydia enjoys running, hiking, reading, and spending time with her family.
Through the LEND program, Lydia hopes to learn about neurodevelopmental disabilities, engage in interprofessional practice and develop her leadership skills. She is also excited to learn more about policy and advocacy projects for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities as part of the LEND experience.
Cassandra is currently in her third and final year of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UNE. She received her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training in 2019 from Endicott College. After graduation, she took a year off to work as an athletic trainer at a local high school and complete prerequisite classes.
In her undergraduate experience, she was able to be a leader in two different campus organizations that worked with children and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities. These clubs strengthened her passion for wanting to work with the pediatric population. She was also fortunate enough to have an internship at Spaulding Pediatrics Outpatient physical therapy in Salem, Massachusetts.
Through LEND, she wants to continue to grow as a healthcare professional, hear new perspectives from her peers, expand her knowledge of other professions and learn about policy. Cassandra would like to be an advocate for adaptive sports and physical activity for all, and plans on turning this into her elective project. She is excited to continue working alongside so many supportive leaders in her interprofessional team over the next few months.
Cassandra loves going to the gym, cooking new recipes, traveling, exploring new coffee shops around Portland, and hiking/going on adventures with her friends.
Emily Thomas is currently in her second year of UNE’s MS Occupational Therapy program. Originally from Brownville, New York, Emily completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Binghamton University in 2020. In her free time, Emily enjoys reading and spending time with her friends, family, and two cats.
She is passionate about inclusion and advocacy, especially relating to children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her previous experience includes an internship at Helping Celebrate Abilities, an inclusive preschool program in Johnson City, New York, and a position as a Classroom Assistant at the Institute for Child Development in Vestal, New York.
Through the LEND program, Emily hopes to learn from neurodiverse individuals, their families, and the greater systems that impact their lives. She is confident that she will be able to take her experience into practice serving this population and utilize her skills to promote self-advocacy and empowerment among individuals. With these skills, she will be better able to provide meaningful, client-centered care. She is looking forward to working with an interprofessional team with similar interests and values.
Karsyn is working as a Registered Nurse at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in the Inpatient Unit inside of Maine Medical Center. She is a recent graduate of UNE’s BSN program.
Karsyn has a younger brother who has an autism spectrum disorder. She grew up with a firsthand look at what a family experience with a child who is neurodevelopmentally different. She also taught dance classes, where she instructed both neurotypical and neurodivergent children. Her experiences with her brother helped shape the way she communicates and works with all children.
When not working, Karsyn enjoys reading, listening to music, and enjoying the outdoors. She is especially fond of spending time in her hometown of Millinocket, where there is access to beautiful lakes and Baxter State Park.
Karsyn hopes to gain insight into the resources and barriers families have in Maine and how she can be more helpful in an interprofessional team.
Andrew is a self-advocate. He graduated from St. Joseph’s College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. He grew up in Windham, Maine, and has a supportive family including his parents and sister.
For hobbies, he rode horses for 23 years at It Takes Two Farm in Windham. He likes to hike, cross-country ski, watch sports, and ride his bike. He is involved in politics and has volunteered for the Lake Region Democrats for over a decade. He has also done volunteer work with the Maine Democratic Party and Maine People’s Alliance.
He has been employed in accounts payable at Goodwill and at other places in accounting, and has experience in payroll, invoicing, and accounts receivable. He has recently become involved with Speaking Up for Us, the self-advocate group in Maine. In the future, Andrew hopes to have a full-time position in accounting and learn more about disability rights and services.
Sydney is an advanced standing student in her final year at the University of New England and will receive her master's in Social Work in May of 2023. She graduated from UNE's bachelor's degree in social work in May of 2022.
She is passionate about social justice, equitable mental health care, and accessibility. Sydney approaches her work with a systems lens, looking at the whole person and their environment, resources, and experiences. She recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of each individual and honors their strengths and life experiences.
In her free time, Sydney enjoys reading, riding her bike, cooking, and spending time with her friends and family.
Sydney is honored to have the opportunity to participate in LEND and learn more about neurodevelopmental disabilities to better support the people she serves. She is grateful to be part of a program that lifts of the voices and experiences of people with disabilities and works to improve equitable access to health care, education, and quality of life.