Alumni alert: Louisiana LEND scholars working at Families Helping Families of Acadiana

LEND Alumni Alert graphic with images of Nicole DeJean and Kristie Curtis

Families Helping Families of Acadiana (FHFOA) recently recognized its staff for their appointments to various boards, task forces, or committees and the completion of programs dedicated to supporting individuals with disabilities and special health care needs. HDC was proud to see two familiar faces in this group: current Louisiana LEND scholar Kristie Curtis and Louisiana LEND alum Nicole DeJean. Click this link to read the original FHFOA newsletter.

Kristie Curtis

Kristie Curtis

Kristie Curtis brings the perspective of a family advocate to the current LEND cohort. She has worked at FHFOA as the EarlySteps Community Outreach Specialist for two-years. She is also the Region 4 LACAN Leader, serving Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St., Landry, St. Martin, and Vermilion Parishes. As a LACAN Leader, Kristie supports grassroots advocacy members to support their efforts for systems change.

Nicole DeJean

Nicole DeJean

Nicole DeJean is a family advocate from our 2020-2021 LEND cohort. Professionally, Nicole was an Early Interventionist providing home and community based services to children ages birth to six years old with developmental disabilities. Nicole is now the Disabilities Information and Support Specialist at FHFOA.

It’s clear that the LEND experience has lasting effect in scholars’ professional and personal journeys. Nicole DeJean explains, “I have a broader understanding of the impact disability has on the less visible parts of life. In my profession, we focus on the developmental aspects of the individual (talking, walking, or feeding) and we don’t get to see how their disability effects their interactions as an adult when they enter healthcare, employment, and community living settings. Seeing the barriers and disparities that challenge participation in these settings for individuals with disabilities allows me to provide improved services that will directly address these challenges.”

About Louisiana LEND

The Louisiana Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) is a nine-month interdisciplinary training program that incorporates both didactic and experiential learning in clinical and community-based settings. LEND prepares graduate students, family members, self-advocates, and practicing professionals to become future leaders in designing and implementing services, policies, advocacy, and consuming/conducting research and evaluation addressing the needs and priorities of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), other neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD) and developmental disabilities (DD) and their families.


Families Helping Families of Acadiana (FHFOA) is organized as a family-directed resource center based on the principals of Louisiana Act 378 of 1989 for families and individuals with disabilities and their families. FHFOA believes that providing support services will educate, strengthen and empower families and individuals who are at an increased risk for family breakdown.