Extension and Outreach

TeleOutreach/Extension Workgroup

The TeleOutreach Extension Workgroup includes partnerships with the TeleOutreach Center, University of Minnesota Extension, the MN Leadership in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (MNLEND) fellowship program, and community stakeholders. The workgroup holds the following goal, to develop bidirectional relationships across Minnesota so that children, youth, and families across the state are better included in supports, services, training, technical assistance, and research at the Masonic Institute of the Developing Brain at the University of Minnesota.

To address this goal, the workgroup has the following aims: 1) development of a community mentorship and training program, and 2) development of satellite site locations to provide teleoutreach equipment and support to children, youth, and families in Greater Minnesota.

About the community fellows mentorship program:

Together with the MNLEND fellowship program, medium-term trainees will form pairs to co-develop training and technical assistance resources to support their communities, to help families and providers understand how to support child and adolescent development and mental health well-being and inclusion of children and adolescents with disabilities or behavioral health needs in community programming.

Meet the Community Fellows

2023 Fellows

Kim Dailey

Kim Dailey is an Extension Educator for 4-H Youth Development in Wadena County. She’s been in her role since January 2020 and brings with her extensive experience in customer service, communications and volunteer systems. She holds BS degrees in Ag Education and Ag Extension from North Dakota State University, with a minor in Biology Education. Kim grew up in 4-H in Wadena County and her son Kevin is a 4th generation Wadena County 4-H member. Kim has firsthand knowledge of mental illness, PTSD and the effects of trauma on growing brains. Kim is the first University of MN trained Mental Health Advocate in the Extension Department, she is certified in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer), Mental Health First Aid, safeTALK Suicide Prevention and Suicide Awareness. She regularly attends seminars on mental wellness, understanding suicide and ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences).

Kim’s passions include educating her community about mental health, mental illness and reducing the stigma about mental wellness. She wants everyone to feel OK about expressing their feelings and to understand the connection between mental health, physical health and overall well-being.

Dyad focus: Advancing early childhood access in Cook County, Minnesota
Sarah Waddle

Sarah Waddle (she/her) is the local Extension Educator in Cook County, Minnesota. She works to connect the Cook County community to the resources of the University of Minnesota around Community Health and Resilience. She brings years of experience working in community engagement and program management to this role as well as past experience working as an environmental educator. In her Extension work she is interested in rural community building and inclusivity, promoting local food systems, and integrating human and environmental health. She is looking forward to learning about ways to support families and bringing new connections and resources to Cook County through this program.

Jodi Tervo Roberts

Jodi Tervo Roberts is an early childhood advocate with over two decades of experience working between educational and health systems, primarily with youth with special health needs in rural communities. She has a passion for supporting youth to thrive.

She earned her master of science in exercise science from Northern Michigan University, and has a keen interest in improving community-wide social determinants of health. Roberts’ interest for policy, systems, and environmental change intensified after having two children with special health needs, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.

Together, with her dyad partner, Sarah Waddle, will work on development of resources to improve access to early childhood services in Cook County.

2022 Fellows

Infant mental wellness dyad

Cari Michaels

Cari Michaels is a public health educator who works in partnership with leaders across campuses and community organizations to promote mental well-being. For over 25 years, she has served in community and university settings to strengthen families and children. Her work has brought her to rural health centers, urban crisis agencies, and many projects and partnerships in higher education. Cari holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a self-designed undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota in public health and child development.

Through strong community engagement, Cari creates educational curricula, interdisciplinary training events, and long-term partnerships that address social determinants of health and promote equity. She is passionate about addressing the needs of parents of young children and using socio-ecological approaches to educate about mental wellness. Currently, she serves on the University of Minnesota Presidents Initiative for Student Mental Health (PRISMH). As a LEND fellow, Cari aims to strengthen services and education offered to pregnant and new parents as they navigate such issues as mental well-being, self-care, trauma, and isolation.

Lauren Moberg

Lauren Moberg is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Specialist. She currently works as the Infant and Early Childhood Director at the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health.  She also provides mental health consultation and reflective consultation to professionals working with or on behalf of infants and young children and their families/caregivers. 

Mollie Kohler

Mollie Kohler is a part-time graduate student in the University of Minnesota’s Master of Public Health program in the Maternal & Child Health concentration. She has a background in social work and received her Master of Social Work from the University of Minnesota in 2016. Mollie started her social work career in child welfare before transitioning to perinatal hospital social work with Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis and, most recently, a transition to perinatal mental health as a therapist. After working with individuals and families in various settings, it became clear that she wanted to devote her professional and academic energy to social and public health issues within the population of birthing people and their children. Mollie is interested in exploring how social work and public health intersect, specifically in the context of maternal and child health as it relates to the experience of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Mollie looks forward to using her micro-level social work experiences to inform macro-level program and policy development to eliminate barriers to quality and accessible support services in the perinatal life stage.

Ifrah Nur

My name is Ifrah Nur. I am a mother of nine and the director of a local Childcare Center. I have worked for school district 191 for nine years as a liaison. I founded a new nonprofit organization, Women's Network, to support MN families. I have been working with the Somali community for six years and have a family and peer certification. I enjoy helping others and educating community members about mental health. My goal in the future is to have an extensive network of trained mothers to provide mental health services to other mothers and community members.

Maryan Ali, Artist and Community Supporter, Certified Family Peer Specialist

Maryan Ali (she/her) has an extensive background of over a decade in working with children and families. Her expertise is demonstrated through her varied roles, including community activism, translation and interpretation, and Educational Assistance (EA) within the 191 district. Currently, Maryan serves as a cultural liaison, actively participating in several projects with MCMA. Maryan's passion for working with young children is profound, and she takes pride in supporting families, especially new mothers and their babies, by connecting them with vital resources. Maryan recognizes the importance of empowering new mothers to ask questions without hesitation, as she understands that women do not necessarily possess all the knowledge about infants. In her leisure time, Maryan enjoys spending quality moments with her family, engaging in activities such as reading, walking, and running outdoors. She appreciates the diverse weather of Minnesota throughout the seasons. Additionally, Maryan indulges in hobbies such as drawing, experimenting with henna, and creating cherished memories with her children.

Sahro Abdullahi

Sahro Abdullahi, Certified Family Peer Specialist

Sahro Abdullahi is a community leader and advocate for parents, with a wealth of experience in various fields. Her passion for children's mental health and well-being led her to join the Parent Catalyst leadership group for the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health (MACMH) in 2009. Sahro has also demonstrated her dedication to helping parents better understand mental health and early intervention by organizing a support group in apartment complexes in Burnsville and Eagan, MN. Since 2014, Sahro has worked as a Somali Cultural Liaison for District 191, where she has played a pivotal role in bridging communication gaps between the school, students, and families. Her responsibilities as District-wide Cultural Liaison include assisting families in understanding and navigating the school system, supporting students in their new environment, and helping staff understand cultural differences. In addition to her work in the education sector, Sahro is a proficient freelance interpreter, specializing in Somali to English translations and vice versa. She is also currently pursuing a master's degree in English Language Learners at Saint Mary's University. When not immersed in her professional pursuits, Sahro enjoys going to the YMCA, cooking, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Creating college & career pathways for youth with disabilities (U of M Campus Immersion program) dyad

Jenny Cable

Jenny Cable is a 4-H Extension Educator with the Center for Youth Development where she supports youth, families and volunteers in Ramsey County. Prior to 4-H, Jenny worked at the YMCA of the North where she spent a number of years providing leadership for youth programs focused on addressing health inequities. She completed her undergraduate degree in journalism and environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Born in Wisconsin, Jenny now resides in North Saint Paul with her husband, two children, and two furry companions.

Jenny is grateful for the opportunity to connect and learn alongside others engaged in the MNLEND program. As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, Jenny is hopeful she can find intersections between her lived experiences as a mom and her current role as an educator. She is passionate about equipping leaders and volunteers in the county with the skills and knowledge to create welcoming and inclusive spaces for young people to feel valued and to feel a sense of belonging in 4-H. Through the MNLEND program, she hopes to broaden her knowledge of neurodevelopmental disabilities, identify and address some of the barriers that exist for individuals with disabilities in accessing 4-H programs and services, gain leadership skills through interdisciplinary collaboration, and continue her growth as an advocate for her son and other young people with disabilities. 

Courtney Hess

My name is Courtney Hess and this is my tenth year teaching. I currently work at Mounds View High School as a work coordinator. My previous teaching experiences include working at St. Anthony Village High School and Project SEARCH, Fairview Lakes through Forest Lake Public schools. I have my developmental cognitive, autism spectrum, and Work Based learning teaching licenses.

I am an adjunct professor at Augsburg University where I teach two courses (behavior management and a transition class) to undergraduate and graduate learners. I have had the wonderful opportunity of working at Down Syndrome Camp through the Down Syndrome Foundation as well as Camp Hand In Hand through the Autism Society at Camp Knutson in Crosslake, Minnesota. I was also a social skills instructor through the Autism Society classes. This school year, I was nominated as a candidate for Minnesota Teacher of the Year.

I believe that our world is a better place when we include people of all backgrounds and abilities in our communities and workforces. I owe the start of my career to my good friend from high school who loves thrift stores, McDonalds coffees, and is diagnosed with a developmental disability. I love hanging out with my three kids Eli and Lainey, 2 years old, and Elizabeth, 5 years old, and my husband.

Employment for neurodiverse youth

Cassandra Silveira

Cassandra Silveira (she/hers) is an Extension Educator in the Center for Family Development, where she is the state program coordinator for the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). EFNEP is a federally-funded program through USDA | NIFA that promotes nutrition education through a paraprofessional model to limited-resource families and children in all 50 states and U.S. territories. In that role, she provides leadership and development to further the mission of the program, expand audience reach, and increase impact. Cassandra is a registered dietitian and has earned her master’s degree in public health nutrition. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Human Resource Development in the department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development.

As the parent of a young autistic adult who will soon enter the workforce, she is acutely aware of the lack of educational services available after age 21, as well as the high unemployment rate in this population. Through her MNLEND fellowship, she will explore employment training programs that result in meaningful and dignified employment for those with an autism diagnosis as well as filling a need for employers.

Joy Kieffer

Joy Kieffer is a lifelong educator, Bachelor of Science in Education from university of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Master’s Degree in Special Education from Mankato State University, Sixth Year Certification in Education Administration from University of Minnesota- Mankato. She taught in general education and special education from 1979- 1989, and worked as a Special Education Coordinator and then as a Director of Special Education Services until she retired in 2015 (to care for and serve as guardian/conservator her son who sustained a traumatic brain injury.) Currently, Joy Kieffer is the Executive Director for Mind Shift, a 501(c)3 whose mission is providing sustaining employment for individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Mind Shift develops strategic business partnerships with companies in Fargo, ND and surrounding areas, Minneapolis, MN and surrounding areas, Milwaukee, MN and surrounding areas, and Denver, Co and surrounding areas. As a non-traditional staffing business, Mind Shift recruits and works with candidates to prepare them to be valuable resources for the Mind Shift business partners. Currently, Mind Shift has brought talent to manufacturing, tech, insurance, shipping, and non-clinical hospital and research businesses. Mind Shift, a 501(c)3 providing sustaining employment for individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Upcoming training and engagement events

Family Focus Groups: Supporting Families of Children with Behavioral Health and Mental Health Needs

Download event flyer

Event description: Please join us for a community needs focus group for supporting families of children with behavioral health and developmental health needs. The University of Minnesota is working to help expand access to behavioral health and developmental health care for highly mobile and geographically dispersed children, families, and caregivers in rural Minnesota. We would like to connect with family members and self advocates from these communities, through virtual focus groups, to provide input on the issues related to this topic that are seen as important and relevant to their community.

Where: Virtual focus group

Who: Family members, parents, self advocates, and other individuals with lived experience with children/youth receiving developmental or behavioral health services

Dates:

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. CST

1/18/24 Registration Link

Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. CST

1/31/24 Registration Link

Provider Focus Groups: Supporting Families of Children with Behavioral Health and Mental Health Needs

Download event flyer

Event description: Please join us for a community needs focus group for supporting families of children with behavioral health and developmental health needs. The University of Minnesota is working to help expand access to behavioral health and developmental health care for highly mobile and geographically dispersed children, families, and caregivers in rural Minnesota. We would like to connect with providers, county/Tribal nation leaders, and educators who work with families from these communities, through virtual focus groups, to provide input on the issues related to this topic that are seen as important and relevant to their community.

Where: Virtual focus group

Who: Providers, county/Tribal nation leaders, and educators who work with families of children with behavioral health and developmental health needs

Dates:

Friday, January 19th, 2024

11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. CST

1/19/24 Registration Link

Wednesday, January 24th, 2024

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. CST

1/24/24 Registration Link