The Human Development Institute (HDI), Kentucky’s University Center on Disability, is administrator for a five-year Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau in partnership with the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. 


The KY LEND Program is part of a national network of LEND programs. LEND programs share the same overall mission of improving the health of infants, children and adolescents with, or at risk for, neurodevelopmental and related disabilities including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). A major focus of LEND is to increase the number of professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based screening, diagnosis and treatment of developmental disabilities, including ASD.

Our Goals

  1. Provide a unique training experience for interdisciplinary students with an emphasis on persons with multiple identities, their mental health, and the perspectives of self-advocates;    
  2. Increase the clinical expertise and leadership skills of practicing Kentucky professionals and families; and
  3. Increase collaboration with universities, agencies, and statewide health and employment initiatives across Kentucky that train students and professionals to serve children and youth with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Who We Are

Our leadership team includes Principal Investigator Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones; Project Director Dr. Caroline Gooden, Director of Training Dr. Phillip Rumrill; and

Expectations of Trainees

Up to nine interdisciplinary students will become KY LEND trainees each year. Stipends are awarded to each trainee. KY LEND trainees are expected to:

  1. Commit for the upcoming academic year (Fall, 2021- Spring, 2022).
  2. Participate in weekly seminars on Fridays, from 10a – 1p (offered via video conference and face to face). Graduate students will enroll in required courses.
  3. Spend an average of 12 hours a week on leadership, clinical and field experiences.
  4. Have monthly meetings with faculty mentor.
  5. Complete all program requirements.

How to Apply to be a Trainee

Students may apply online ( for admission on a rolling basis.

  1. Student trainees must be enrolled in a graduate level program at the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville or Eastern Kentucky University for Fall, 2021 semester OR be a family member or self-advocate. Family members and self-advocates are encouraged to apply and do not need to be enrolled as a graduate level student.
  2. Submit the online application for admission to the LEND Program. You will need to include your resume, personal statement, and transcript (unofficial copy of transcript will be accepted).
  3. You may be asked to have an interview as part of the application process.
  4. If you have questions or need help in applying, call Caroline Gooden at 859.582.5134 or email