This blog is on topics of interest to early career professionals who work with people with disabilities. Blog contributors have diverse perspectives on leadership, professional development, and success in changing systems to better serve people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Early Career Professionals, check out the website:

09 December, 2014

December 8, 2014
A Welcome Journey

Maria Isabel Frangenburg
Diversity and Inclusion Fellow, AUCD

LEND was never part of my “original plan”, that plan that we sit down and craft at some point as we try to neatly engineer the next steps in life. I received an email from a colleague at my volunteer translating job, where she included a link to the program. She said that she thought that it would be “perfect” for me. I’ve never been one to turn down perfection, so I made the pertinent phone calls and a few months later, I was officially a LEND trainee.

 I didn’t see myself as the traditional LEND trainee. My background didn’t include any clinical or health related experience, and I had a hard time fitting my philosophy degree and advertising work history into what I thought LEND was. But they were looking for their first parent trainee, and there, I saw myself. The journey that I encountered was thoroughly unexpected and life changing. Every member of the Virginia LEND faculty was supportive and personally invested in my journey. They were always available, always open to how I saw this experience, and most importantly, responsive to adapting the Virginia LEND experience to the then new Family discipline in a diverse environment. I learned leadership from leaders who engendered it. They taught me that I could make a difference, and the experiential curriculum gave me the tools to go out and get started.

After graduation, I began work at the VA UCEDD as a parent navigator who would provide resources to Latino parents of children with disabilities. As I did the work, I realized that much foundational work in cultural and linguistic competency across the state needed to take place. With the support of the VA UCEDD along with productive relationships with other state agencies, we set to design trainings and an annual conference. Alongside of these efforts, the Virginia LEND invited me to co-teach the Interdisciplinary Teamwork class, as well as to be their clinic coordinator.

These experiences set the stage for my current job at AUCD, where I, along with three other fellows across the US, am embarking on the design of a Diversity Blueprint for the network.  

LEND is a part of every move I make, and a lifetime network that I can always count on.