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The San Diego LEND Program is now accepting applications for the 2023-2024 year.

 The deadline for applications is July 30th, 2023. Apply now!

San Diego Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (San Diego LEND)

The San Diego Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities program (San Diego LEND) is a unique, interdisciplinary leadership training program funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The San Diego LEND is administered through the UC San Diego Altman Clinical Translational Research Institute Dissemination and Implementation Science Center in collaboration with San Diego State University and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, and government and community agencies within San Diego and Imperial Counties. San Diego LEND is part of a national network of 60 LEND training programs.

The San Diego LEND program provides interdisciplinary and leadership training to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents and fellows, practicing professionals, family members, and self-advocates focused on applying implementation science to promote equity in access to evidence-based services for individuals with autism and other developmental disorders (Autism/DD). Training activities are scheduled from August through May and there are multiple training intensity options ranging from 40 to 300 hours over the training period.

What makes San Diego LEND unique?

  • San Diego LEND faculty have expertise applying implementation science, the scientific study of methods and strategies to promote the use of evidence-based practice and research by practitioners and policymakers, across community service systems caring for individuals with Autism/DD.
  • We offer specialized training in implementation leadership, which is strategic leadership focused on supporting the use and sustainment of evidence-based practices.
  • We leverage strong community partnerships and multi-institutional collaboration offering opportunities to use the strengths and expertise of both academic institutions and community partners to target service disparities and promote equity in access to evidence-based Autism/DD services.
  • We strive to provide interdisciplinary training that is responsive to the unique characteristics of our border community of San Diego and Imperial Counties with the goal of improving service and clinical outcomes for our residents.

Who can become a LEND trainee?

  • Graduate and post graduate trainees (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents and fellows) looking to enhance their training and build expertise in working with autism and developmental disabilities.
  • Practicing professionals dedicated to caring for children with autism who are looking to enhance their clinical expertise and leadership skills.
  • Family members of neurodivergent individuals interested in providing the family perspective to fellow trainees and receive training and mentorship in advocacy and leadership.
  • Neurodivergent individuals interested in sharing their lived experiences and receive training and mentorship to develop their self-advocacy and leadership skills.

 See “Trainees” section for specific eligibility and the different training options.

Why become a LEND trainee?

Benefits to being a San Diego LEND trainee include:

  • Receive training from LEND faculty from UC San Diego, San Diego State University, Rady Children’s Hospital, and the community with expertise in implementation science and community partnerships across service systems
  • Opportunity to participate in innovative training and ongoing seminars focused on Implementation Leadership to promote equitable access to evidence-based care for individuals with Autism/DD
  • Targeted training in culturally responsive care for under resourced communities
  • Opportunity to provide technical assistance/consultation and produce policy briefs to improve the system of care for individuals with Autism/DD
  • One-to-one faculty mentoring with core faculty members including mentored completion of the Individualized Development Training Plan and a Community Action Project
  • Unique chance to learn with faculty and colleagues across disciplines
  • Individualized program scheduling to accommodate working professionals and community members
  • Stipend payment (for some trainees)


Who is eligible to be a LEND trainee?

San Diego LEND trainees will be:

(1) Graduate and post graduate trainees

(2) Practicing professionals working with autism/DD populations

(3) Family members of autistic or neurodivergent individuals

(4) Autistic or neurodivergent self-advocates

Family members and self-advocates are critical contributors to San Diego LEND. Family and self-advocate trainees participating as Long Term Trainees can complete the 300 required hours over 1 or 2 years depending on their needs; LEND faculty will work closely with trainees to individualize training schedules as needed.

Training those from underrepresented groups or geographic areas within San Diego and Imperial counties is a very high priority. 

Long-Term Trainees

San Diego LEND will enroll 9 Long-Term Trainees annually. Long-Term Trainees will participate in 300+ hours in the San Diego LEND program during the training year.  Long-Term Trainees will engage in weekly didactic training, clinical and community practicum experiences, and complete a Community Action Project. Supplemental funding will be provided for up to nine Long-Term Trainees annually.


Medium-Term Trainees

San Diego LEND will enroll 25 Medium-Term Trainees annually. Medium-Term Trainees will fall into two tiers: those who complete 40–149 hours of training, and those who complete 150–299 hours (i.e. Advanced Medium-Term). Medium-Term Trainees will engage in selected didactic or practicum experiences through LEND as part of a formal course of study.

 LEND Trainee Training Requirements



* See LEND Training section below for detailed description of training activities.

LEND Training

San Diego LEND is a comprehensive leadership training program that runs August through May. The program provides interdisciplinary and person-, family- centered training through didactic, community, clinical, leadership, and research training experiences emphasizing the promotion of equitable access to evidence-based care. All training activities are designed to allow trainees to participate in experiences to promote culturally responsive care.  


Training activities are a combination of virtual and in-person activities in accordance with institutional and public health guidelines.


LEND training includes (1) didactic trainings, (2) clinical observations, (3) community activities and (4) community action projects.

Didactic Trainings

Didactic training includes LEND seminars and continuing education activities.

LEND Seminars

San Diego LEND will provide didactic educational experiences for trainees through a weekly seminar series with content from an Autism and Developmental Disorders curriculum, a Leadership curriculum and an intensive two-day Implementation Leadership training.

Our weekly Autism and Developmental Disorders seminar focuses on core modules that address:

  • Foundations of equity
  • Evidence-based assessment
  • Evidence-based intervention
  • Services and access
  • Culturally responsive care

Our weekly Leadership seminar focuses on core modules that address:

  • Implementation Science and practice
  • Community-based research
  • Individual leadership
  • Organizational leadership
  • Policy leadership

The Leadership seminar will also include a technical assistance roundtable and “Interviews with Local Leader” series.

Implementation Leadership Workshop

Our intensive 2-day workshop provides training in Implementation Leadership to promote equitable access to evidence-based care.

Attendance: Long-Term Trainees are expected to attend LEND seminars weekly, while Medium-Term Trainees will be asked to participate in a subset of seminars, with the option to attend as many seminars as their schedules allow. The Implementation Leadership workshop is required for Long-Term Trainees but open to all LEND participants.

Continuing Education Activities

LEND trainees will be invited to participate in continuing education and professional development activities.  

  • The UC San Diego/Rady Children’s Autism Research and Practice CME seminar is designed to (1) increase knowledge of the latest research and practice innovations related to the causes, assessment, treatment, or services for individuals with autism; (2) identify applications of evidence-based diagnostics and treatment practices to routine care for individuals with autism; and (3) understand approaches to navigate complex community services for autism. The UC San Diego/Rady Children’s Autism Research and Practice CME seminar is offered monthly.
  • The Implementation Science Seminar (ISS) is a lecture and grant development series featuring local, national and international scholars conducting state-of-the-art dissemination and implementation (D&I) research. ISS typically includes an investigator presentation followed by interactive discussion where researchers of all levels can share feedback, ask questions, and discuss ideas.
  • The Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) Journal Club & Works in Progress is a monthly learning community to discuss the latest in D&I literature, workshop new proposals, and learn from D&I experts. The D&I Journal Club and Works in Progress is held monthly on the 2nd Thursday of the month from 2-3:30pm.
  • The Introductory Clinical Workshop in the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2) will teach participants how to assess and diagnose ASD using the ADOS-2. The CME workshop is designed to (1) demonstrate a basic understanding of how to administer and score the ADOS 2; (2) explain issues in the clinical application of ADOS-2 results; and (3) describe use of ADOS-2 for operationalizing diagnostic criteria for ASD. The two-day CME workshop will be offered once each training year and LEND long-term trainees and the professional community will be invited to attend.
  • The “Expo” is an interactive continuing education conference designed to showcase trainee Community Action Projects. It will be organized through the UC San Diego Dissemination and Implementation Science Center. Trainees will present their projects with LEND faculty serving as conference discussants. The Expo will be held annually and LEND trainees and the broader community will be invited to attend.

Clinical Observations  

San Diego LEND clinical observations will occur at Rady Children’s Hospital- San Diego through the Autism Discovery Institute Multi-Disciplinary Team and other Autism/DD screening, assessment, and intervention programs and are designed to provide exposure to state-of-the-art interdisciplinary care. Clinical observations are required for Long Term Trainees and will be included for Medium Term Trainees based on trainee availability and individual training goals.

Examples of potential clinical observations include:

  • John M. Sachs Family Clinic for Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Autism Discovery Institute
  • Down Syndrome Center
  • Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Genetics/Dysmorphology
  • Neurology
  • KidSTART Center
  • Alexa's Playful Learning Academy for Young Children (PLAYC)


Community Activities

San Diego LEND will provide community practicum training experiences at programs throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties providing, coordinating, or studying care for individuals with developmental disabilities. Community programs span multiple community service systems (e.g., early intervention, educational, mental health, rehabilitation and vocational) and disciplines. Placements include services for traditionally underserved communities. LEND trainees will work with the Training Director to match at a placement relevant to their experience and LEND training goals.


Community Action Projects

All Long-Term Trainees will complete a Community Action Project focused on research or quality improvement. The focus of a research or quality improvement project will take a strengths-based approach and meet the following criteria: (1) build on the strengths of a community to address an identified need, (2) evaluate an identified evidence-based or promising practice for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families, (3) consider application of an implementation or improvement science measure, method or framework, and (4) address a topic to promote health equity in access or receipt of high-quality assessment, navigation or treatment/intervention.

Trainees will receive guidance from a Faculty Committee that will include their Primary LEND mentor and two additional LEND faculty members.  The trainee’s Faculty Committee will be available to offer ongoing supervision and technical assistance to ensure satisfactory progress in achieving the project goals and targeted feedback on best practices for conducting community-engaged implementation and improvement science projects.

Faculty and Staff

San Diego LEND Faculty

The San Diego LEND faculty represent different academic disciplines and includes individuals from diverse backgrounds. We have faculty represented from UC San Diego (UCSD), San Diego State University (SDSU), Rady Children’s Hospital- San Diego (RCHSD), and Child and Adolescent Services Research Center (CASRC).

San Diego LEND Directors
Program Director: Lauren Brookman-Frazee, Ph.D.
Co-Director: Jessica Suhrheinrich, Ph.D.
Training and Evaluation Director: Colby Chlebowski, Ph.D.

Core Faculty
San Diego LEND core faculty consists of Faculty Coordinators, Discipline Leads, and Course Instructors.
Faculty Coordinators
Community Training: Mary Baker-Ericzén, Ph.D. (SDSU; CASRC) & Kelsey Dickson, Ph.D. (SDSU; CASRC)
Clinical Training: Themba Carr, Ph.D. (RCHSD)
Equity Implementation Research & Practice: Paul Luelmo, Ph.D. (SDSU) & Nicole Stadnick, PhD., MPH. (UCSD; CASRC)


Discipline Leads
Family: Rachel Haine-Schlagel, Ph.D. (SDSU; CASRC)
Genetics/Genetic Counseling: Kristen Wigby, MD (UCSD; RCHSD)
Medicine/Adult: Mary Baker-Ericzén, Ph.D. (SDSU; CASRC)
Medicine/Pediatrics: Lauren Gist, MD, MPH (UCSD; RCHSD)
Neurology: Anuja Jindal, MD, MPH (UCSD; RCHSD)
Psychology: Lauren Brookman-Frazee, Ph.D., BCBA-D. (UCSD; RCHSD)
Public Health Policy: Nicole Stadnick, PhD., MPH., (UCSD; CASRC)
Self-Advocacy: Mary Baker-Ericzén, Ph.D. (SDSU; CASRC)
Special Education/ Education: Jessica Suhrheinrich, Ph.D. (SDSU; CASRC)
Speech Language Pathology: Sonja Pruitt-Lord, Ph. D, CCC-SLP (SDSU)


San Diego LEND administrative coordinator: Devynne Diaz, MA

How to Apply

Application Process

Training individuals from underrepresented groups or geographic areas within San Diego and Imperial counties is a very high priority. Graduate or post-graduate participants, practicing professionals, family members, and self-advocates are welcome to apply.

All applicants must complete the San Diego LEND online application and submit 1) one letter of reference (using the LEND reference form), 2) a statement of interest, and 3) a CV/resume (CV/resumes are required for practicing professionals and graduate/post-graduate applicants only).   

Statement of Interest

Please provide a one-page statement of interest that addresses applicant’s interest in promoting equitable access to evidence-based care, leadership strengths, experience in the field of autism/developmental disabilities, and the skills and competencies applicant is interested in developing during San Diego LEND training.

For those individuals who identify as neurodivergent and/or those individuals who are family members of a neurodivergent individual, please describe your experience as a neurodivergent individual/family member of a neurodivergent individual. Please include any leadership, community, or advocacy interest or experiences related to autism/developmental disabilities that you may have.


Application Support

Devynne Diaz, LEND Administrative Coordinator will be available to support applicants though the submission of application materials. She can be contacted at or T: (858) 966-7703 ext.


Family member applicants can contact Rachel Haine-Schlagel, Ph.D., the Family Discipline lead, for assistance and support for all aspects of the application process. She can be contacted at


Self-advocate applicants can contact Mary Baker Ericzen, Ph.D., the Self-Advocate Discipline lead, for assistance and support for all aspects of the application process. She can be contacted at


Applications will be reviewed by the Training Director and the San Diego LEND faculty team. Applicants meeting initial requirements will be contacted for a semi-structured interview with one or more core faculty members. Final decisions will be communicated to the applicant via email.

Contact Us

You can contact the San Diego LEND program at