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.

Tony Cahill, Ph. D.

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

Dr. Cahill is the Center’s Evaluation Director and Director of the Division of Disability and Health Policy. He 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.

Heidi Sanders, MA, OTR/L

Heidi Sanders, MA, OTR/L

LEND Faculty
Occupational Therapy & Special Education

Heidi Sanders, MA, OTR/L, holds degrees in both Occupational Therapy and Special Education. She has been a faculty member of the Occupational Therapy Graduate Program at the University of New Mexico since 2004. Her clinical work includes both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation with children with multiple disabilities at Carrie Tingley Hospital. Heidi also served as the primary therapist for the FOCUS Program, an early intervention program for children with prenatal substance exposure and their families. Heidi currently provides consultation services for the Developmental Care Program at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, following children after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit. She has developed school-wide programs for children with motor, social and self-regulation challenges, as well providing consultation, assessment, and training to improve services and supports for children in foster care and post-adoption throughout the state of New Mexico. Heidi has worked internationally to assist families, teachers, and medical professional to improve the quality of life for children with a range of disabilities in Russia, Nicaragua and Mexico.

  Susan Koronkiewicz

Susan Koronkiewicz, MSN, RN, CNE
LEND Faculty
Phone: 505-272-2407

Susan Koronkiewicz, MSN, RN, CNE is representing the nursing discipline on the faculty team, and was a LEND fellow in 2016. She is faculty and undergraduate program director at the UNM College of Nursing, and is pursuing a PhD in Nursing at Villanova University. Her professional interests include creating a culture of inclusion and diversity for nursing students with disability, and eliminating health disparities for individuals with disabilities by integrating relevant content into nursing and health professions’ curricula.

Debra Sugar, LISW

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

Debra has served as LEND Social Work Faculty since November 2011. Over the course of her career, she has practiced clinical social work with New Mexican children, adults, families and groups in a wide range of settings, including treatment programs, public schools, private practice, and UNM clinical programs. She has mentored social work graduate students and supervised social workers since 2003. Debra also serves as Lead Social Worker with the Clinical Services Evaluation Unit at the UNM Center for Development and Disability, where she develops and oversees clinical social work services, provides direct support to families, and provides community trainings throughout the state. Debra’s clinical and professional interests include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Family-Centered Practice, and culturally and linguistically informed practice.

Mareth Williams

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

Mareth Williams, MD completed medical school and pediatric residency training at University of New Mexico Hospital and is a Board Certified Pediatrician and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UNMH. She works at the Center for Development and Disability, primarily with the interdisciplinary teams of the Early Childhood Evaluation Program and the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Clinic. She has spent her clinical career serving children and families in New Mexico, and she travels the state often on outreach clinics through ECEP. She has been a member of the LEND faculty since 2014.

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.