Forging New Leaders through the LEND Program
Forging New Leaders

In the United States alone, there are at least 3.8 million children with developmental disabilities. Due to the limited number of health care providers trained to work with this population, it is increasingly difficult for them to obtain appropriate medical treatment. Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs were developed to address this gap by training leaders in disability work.

The Office of Child Development, as part of this training, hosts LEND trainees under the guidance of Early Childhood Partnerships Director and LEND faculty member, Stephen J. Bagnato, EdD, NCSP.

To help develop disability leaders, LEND takes an interdisciplinary approach to promote coordinated care. Faculty and trainees represent 14 core academic disciplines (see list at right), but can include others such as assistive technology, rehabilitation, law, and psychiatry. The LEND programs also integrate families in all aspects of training and service to better serve this population.

LEND programs operate within a university system and are commonly affiliated with local university hospitals or health care centers. This is the case with the LEND Center at the University of Pittsburgh, which is affiliated with the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. This collaboration provides LEND with expert faculty and state-of-the-art facilities that work to enhance the ability of clinicians to diagnose, treat, and manage complex disabilities in youth and adolescents.

LEND leadership trainees include:

n   Graduate students and pre- and post-doctoral students in professions related to Maternal and Child Health

n   Practicing professionals in fields relating to Maternal and Child Health

n   A family member or parent of a child with a disability, or someone who has experienced disability within their own life, and who is looking to expand their knowledge and experience with leadership.

The LEND program allows trainees to:

n   Increase their knowledge about neurodevelopmental and related disabilities and acquire leadership expertise in communication, cultural competency, and interdisciplinary team skills.

n   Better understand the role of socioeconomic, racial, cultural, geographic, linguistic, and financial factors on service delivery and utilization by children and their families.

n   Facilitate their understanding of the importance of advocacy for services.

n   Understand the implications of legislation and policy on program funding, planning, and development and patterns of service delivery.

n   Demonstrate leadership skills in clinical, mentored research and/or community-based training.

n   Demonstrate effective communication skills in academic course work, clinical settings, and communication with families.


The Pittsburgh LEND program has already produced dozens of leaders in disability work and plans to continue this important work in the coming years.

LEND Core Disciplines
• Audiology
• Family
• Genetics
• Health Administration
• Nursing
• Nutrition
• Occupational Therapy
• Pediatrics/Medicine
• Pediatric Dentistry
• Physical Therapy
• Psychology
• Social Work
• Special Education
• Speech-Language