Advocacy and Public Speaking



NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) Iowa Children’s Mental Health Committee, Chair May 2014-September 2015 and January 2016-present. Member May 2014-present.

Iowa Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing WorkgroupSeptember-December 2015 and September-December 2016.

Iowa Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council. October 2014-present.

Coalition for a Children’s Mental Health Redesign in Iowa. Co-chair and co-founder of this coalition of over 45 member organizations and 90 mental health professionals, advocates, and stakeholders. October 2014-August 2015. The coalition produced the Statewide Call for Action: A Strategic Plan for a Children’s Mental Health Redesign in Iowa.”

Regional Autism Assistance Program Advisory Committee, March 2015-December 2015.

Parents Creating Change in Iowa, March 2014-present.

Ethics Committee, Mayflower Retirement Community, Grinnell, Iowa, 2008-present.

Media Coverage:

“After Mentally Ill Son Throws Computer at His Teacher, Mom Reaches Out to Families with Disabilities…” by Angie McPherson, Independent Journal Review, January 27, 2017.

“She foresaw disaster when her young son threw a computer at his teacher. How she helped him and other mentally ill kids,” by Sara Maraniss Vander Schaaff in The Answer Sheet Blog: The Washington Post, January 11, 2016.

“Nyden Wins Award for Children’s Mental Health Activism” by Megan Tcheng, The Scarlet and Black, November 11, 2016.

“Violence usually triggers use of seclusion rooms – but not always,” by Erin Jordan,   The Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 18, 2016.

Interviewed on River to River by Ben Kieffer, Iowa Public Radio, June 9, 2016.

“Fix Iowa’s broken mental health system for children,” guest columnist for The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, May 21, 2015.

 “State mental hospital ends pediatric program, cuts jobs,” by Tony Leys, June 3, 2016.

“New state committee to look at children’s mental healthcare,” by Erin Murphy, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, April 24, 2015.

“Supporters want more mental health support for kids,” by Mark Newman, Ottumwa Courier, September 4, 2015.

“Parents: Iowa needs children’s mental health care system,” by Erin Murphy, Quad City Times, September 17, 2015.

“Parents rally for more help in dealing with mental illness,” by Pat Curtis, Radio Iowa, December 4, 2014.

“Mentally ill kids need state help, families say,” by Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, December 3, 2014.

“Parents of Mentally Ill Children Rally Iowa Capital,” by Sarah Boden, December 3, 2014.

Talk of Iowa by Charity Nebbe and Lindsey Moon for “Iowa’s Children’s Mental Health Care Crisis”, Iowa Public Radio, May 21, 2014.

Public Speaking:

“Advocacy: Mothers’ Stories,” Guest Speaker at meeting of University of Iowa Children’s Specialty Clinics Family Advisory Council, June 15, 2017.

“We Are All in this Together: Positive Systems Change for Iowa’s Children,” 3rd Annual Iowa School-Based Mental Health Conference, Des Moines, October 16, 2015.

“What Works: School Programs for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbance,” Member of Parent Panel. 3rd Annual Iowa School-Based Mental Health Conference, Des Moines, October 16, 2015.

“Ways to Advocate for Children’s Mental Health,” Guest Lecture for Bengu Erguner-Tekinalp’s Graduate-level Practicum for Clinical Mental Health, Clinical Rehabilitation, and School Counseling Students, Drake University, September 30, 2015.

Webinar Speaker, Prevention of Disability Webinar, January 30, 2015.

“The State of Children’s Mental Health in Iowa,” presented at Iowa Health and Disability Advisory Board Meeting, January 27, 2015.

Keynote speaker at NAMI Iowa Walk, October 4, 2014.


ID Action Capital Day Advocacy Training, March 2014.

NAMI Smarts Advocacy Training, September 2014.

NAMI Basics Teacher Training: A NAMI peer education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents with mental illness, October 2014.

Youth Mental Health First Aid, June 2015.