Who We Are At LEND


Sandra Heimerl

Sandra Heimerl, PT, DPT, MS
LEND Faculty
Physical Therapy
Phone: 505-272-0096

Sandy Heimerl, PT, MS, DPT has been the training director of the NM LEND Program since November 2009 and the director of LEND since July 2014. She joined LEND as the physical therapy faculty in 2003. She also serves as the staff physical therapist in the Early Childhood Evaluation Program providing interdisciplinary diagnostic evaluations for infants and young children. Her clinical and research interests have been early intervention, motor functioning in children with ASD and telehealth and she has taken a leadership role in the development of the CDD's telehealth capacity.

Alyx Medlock

Alyx Medlock, M.S., CCC-SLP
Training Director
LEND Faculty
Phone: 505-272-8285

Alyx is a speech-language pathologist who has worked with interdisciplinary, family-centered teams throughout her career. She is a life-long New Mexican with deep family and cultural ties to the state. She was the Director of the Early Childhood Evaluation Program (ECEP) and continues to work clinically, providing interdisciplinary, developmental and diagnostic evaluations to children under three. Her previous experience, in running a private practice, fostered varied professional and personal experiences throughout the state and across the lifespan. She has experience working with families of children with prenatal drug and alcohol exposure, individuals with ASD, children and adults with feeding and swallowing difficulties, and many other populations.

Sylvia Acosta

Sylvia Acosta, Ph. D.
LEND Faculty
Phone: 505-272-4725

Sylvia J. Acosta, PhD is a licensed psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UNM. She is a graduate of the USC UCEDD LEND Program (2007-2010) and has been and Adjunct Professor with NM LEND since 2015. Her clinical work has focused on serving children and families with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), particularly those families who are culturally and linguistically diverse and those with comorbid behavioral health disorders. Dr. Acosta is bilingual (Spanish-speaking). Her research interests include assessment and health disparities in ASD and multicultural issues related to behavioral health and developmental disabilities. She is the director of the CDD’s Postdoctoral Psychology Training program and manages the Parent Home Training program for parents of children with ASD.

Kristen Bennett

Kirsten Bennett, PhD,RD,LD
LEND Faculty
KDBennett@salud.unm.eduPhone: 505-925-7604

Kirsten Bennett, PhD RD LD, is a registered dietitian and an educational psychologist specializing in the nutritional care of children. Kirsten uses Quality Improvement (QI) methodology to facilitate systems change guided by evidence-based practice in clinical settings statewide. Her clinical interests include support and training of nutrition providers working with children and families as well as improving access to pediatric nutrition providers. Her research interests center on effective strategies for education and training of healthcare providers, including the use of telehealth applications.

Tony Cahill, Ph. D.

Tony Cahill, Ph. D.
LEND Faculty
Public Administration
Phone: 505-272-2990

Dr. Cahill, Director of Disability and Health Policy Division, is nationally recognized for his work in the areas of evaluation and research methodology; outcomes and performance-based research; the design, implementation and analysis of large-scale mail and telephone surveys; database and decision support system development; and applied statistical analysis. He serves on numerous boards and commissions in the field of disability, including serving as Chair of the New Mexico Governor’s Commission on Disability.

Image of Sue Iliff

Sue Iliff (Chrisman), MA, OTR/L
LEND Faculty
Occupational Therapy
Phone: 505-272-3455

Sue Iliff, MA, OTR/L is faculty and the academic fieldwork coordinator in the UNM Department of Pediatrics, Division of Occupational Therapy. She has worked as a licensed occupational therapist in several settings for 17 years and is currently pursuing a PhD in Occupational Therapy at Texas Woman’s University. She was a LEND fellow in Class of 2006. Sue’s clinical and professional interests include Pediatrics, Problem-Based Learning, and Instrumentation Development and Evaluation.

Phyllis Shingle, Family member, LMSW CIRS

Phyllis Shingle, LMSW CIRS
LEND Faculty
Family Services
Phone: 505-272-8549

Phyllis Shingle, Family Member, LMSW CIRS, represents the family discipline on the faculty team and facilitates opportunities for family-professional collaboration within the LEND curriculum. She is also the manager of the Center for Development and Disability Information Network, which includes the CDD Library and the disability resources phone line. She is a licensed Social Worker, a nationally certified Information and Referral Specialist, and a graduate of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Family Scholar program.

Debra Sugar, LISW

Debra Sugar, LISW
LEND Faculty
Social Work
Phone: 505-272-8886

Debra Sugar, LCSW, LISW, MSW, joined LEND as the Social Work Faculty in November, 2011. Debra also serves as a Clinical Social Worker with the Autism Programs at the UNM Center for Development and Disability. Debra’s clinical and professional interests include Autism Spectrum Disorders, Special Education, and Family-Centered Practice. 

Maryann Trott

Maryann Trott MA, BCBA
LEND Faculty
Special Education
Mtrott@salud.unm.eduPhone: 505-272-2611

Maryann Trott, MA, BCBA is an Education and Outreach Manager for the Autism Programs at CDD. She is a certified special education teacher in New Mexico and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She is joining LEND in 2016-2017 as special education faculty. In addition to managing the school team for the autism programs, she frequently provides field supervision for BCBA candidates. She has extensive experience in the education of students with autism and other severe disabilities as well as teacher education. Her interests include the classroom application of ABA interventions for students with ASD.

LisaMarie Turk

LisaMarie Turk, MSN, RN
LEND Faculty
Phone: 505-925-4746

LisaMarie Turk, MSN, RN joined LEND as the Nursing Faculty in 2014. Ms. Turk also serves as Teaching Associate within UNM College of Nursing and was a LEND Fellow in 2011. Ms. Turk is a PhD Candidate and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nursing and Health Policy Fellow at the UNM College Nursing. Her research is focused on combining systems science and network analysis to examine political factors associated with health care transition for adolescents and emerging adults with special health care needs and neurodevelopmental disabilities. She believes that integration of nursing and the social sciences will empower her to address the complexities associated with our nation’s health needs.

Mareth Williams

Mareth E. Williams, M. D.
LEND Faculty
Phone: 505-272-3000

Christine Vining, M.S.,CCC-SLP

Christine B. Vining, Ph.D.,CCC-SLP
LEND Faculty
Speech-Language Pathology
Phone: 505-272-8998

Christine B. Vining, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, represents the speech-language pathology discipline on the faculty team and facilitates opportunities for infusing cultural and linguistic competence within the LEND curriculum. Chris has worked with children with disabilities, their families, and communities throughout NM in many settings, and currently serves as staff speech-language pathologist with the Autism Programs. She has worked to improve systems of care and education through collaboration of family, community and state efforts particularly in Native American communities. She currently serves on the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Board of Directors, Multicultural Council Co-Chair, Native American Parent Technical Assistance Center (NAPTAC) Advisory Board and Brain Injury Resource Center Project Advisory Board.