About Us

 In February of 2015, the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS) contracted with the University of Iowa’s (UI) Division of Child & Community Health (DCCH) to train the Peer Support and Family Peer Support workforce in Iowa. During this six-year project, DCCH and the UI National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice will collaborate with ASK Resource Center, NAMI Iowa, and UI Child Health Speciality Clinics as well as other stakeholders to develop curricula, conduct training, educate supervisors, provide continuing education and make recommendations about certification.

 Read more to learn about our training team, our curriculum development team, and the impact that we are having across Iowa.

Our Trainer Team


Diane Zaerr Brenneman, DMin, Family Peer Support Specialist, is the parent of kids with special needs. She is happy to find a way to use her lived experience by coaching other families of kids with disabilities. She has been a teacher, pastor, administrator and farmer (thankfully, not all at the same time). A thread that weaves through all is the amazing resilience of the human spirit. Children and their families truly can thrive despite what life has thrown at them. She feels privileged to walk alongside families in their journeys.


Martha Hanley, MA, Family Peer Support Specialist, is Program Manager for Family Engagement in the Division of Child and Community Health at the University of Iowa. She is Iowa’s Title V delegate to the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) and received training in AMCHP’s Family Scholar program. She is chair of AMCHP’s Family and Youth Leadership Committee and family faculty in the Iowa Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Project. Among her 5 children and 12 grandchildren are some with mental health diagnoses.


Rachel Charlot is a Family Peer Support Specialist and Family Navigator for the Division of Child and Community Health and Child Health Specialty Clinics (CHSC). Rachel has been serving families through CHSC for 12 years as both a Family Navigator and in the Early ACCESS program as a Service Coordinator. Rachel is passionate about helping empower families with the knowledge and resources to help support their child throughout the life course.



Todd Noack, PRS, is the Executive Director of Life Connections Peer Recovery Services, a peer-run non-profit. He directs Iowa’s only peer-run respite house, and is one of two advanced level Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Facilitators in Iowa. Todd’s volunteer & advocacy experience includes serving as a Board Member for the Iowa Advocates for Mental Health Recovery and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Iowa Peer & Family Peer Support Training Program. Todd is now actively involved in all aspects of Mental Health Recovery, by overseeing and facilitating support groups, public relations, and business management. He keeps up-to -date with the latest developments in Peer Support Recovery movements and ongoing changes in state and local capacities involving individuals, their family members, and children.



As a State trainer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), JD has been teaching several different classes, which include Peer to Peer, In Our Own Voice, and NAMI SMARTS. He is also qualified to co-facilitate NAMI Connections support groups for persons with mental health diagnoses. Since his first training class, JD enjoys watching the growth of individuals while learning a new curriculum. He states, watching peers during trainings is like, “watching a flower open to a beautiful rose.” JD spent the last 4 years as the Coordinator at NAMI Central Iowa’s Wellness Center, sharing his sober lifestyle as well as his compassionate, warm, and approachable style of Peer Support. JD has also been an important part of the LGBTQIA movement in Iowa, volunteering for Oneiowa at various events. Born in New York State, JD moved to Iowa 20 years ago and resides in Ames, with his partner of 2 years and their 2 golden retrievers



Jennifer Day is Program Coordinator of R Place Peer Recovery Center, a program of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Johnson County, Iowa (NAMI JC), and Vice President of the Advisory Committee to the Mental Health Disability Services of the East Central Region (MHDS ECR) of Iowa. She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, where she studied many things, but mainly Psychology. She is proud to share her lived experience of overcoming trauma and "thinking different" with others as a Peer Support Specialist & Trainer. In her spare time, Jenn loves to laugh, sing, and spend time with her cat.

Our Curriculum Development Team


Lisa D’Aunno, J.D, is Training Director at the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice (NRC), on the leadership team of the Iowa Peer Support and Family Peer Support Training Project, and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Iowa School of Social Work. As an attorney, social work administrator, and trainer, Lisa has worked in the areas of child welfare, family law, and mental health for over 30 years. She writes curriculum for the project, and specializes in training on ethics and supervision.


Diane Funk is the Program Manager for the Iowa Peer Support & Family Peer Support Training Program. She spent four years earning a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology and thirty plus years learning to counsel, support, advocate, supervise, fund raise and write grants, policies and curriculum. Diane is now working in the behavioral health field as a champion for the role peer support specialists play in supporting individuals and families seeking and maintaining recovery from mental illness.


Tina Harper, MSW, Family Peer Support Specialist, is the parent of a young man with intellectual disabilities on the autism spectrum. Tina previously worked as a Family Navigator and in the medical field as a medical and hospice social worker. She is passionate about the power parents have in advocating for their children and families. Working on the family peer support training provides the opportunity to meet many amazing people.


Jill Kluesner, MA, CRC works on the Iowa Peer Support & Family Peer Support Training Program as a consultant on instructional design, training, and quality improvement. As an advocate, provider and educator, Jill has worked in the field of behavioral health for 13 years. Jill brings experience to this project from her work as a National Trainer and Quality Evaluator for the National Council on Behavioral Health. She is a local Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor and serves as a Behavioral Health Consultant for a variety of state and federal behavioral health projects. Jill also volunteers for the Iowa Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team


Soumya Palreddy, PhD, works on the Iowa Peer Support & Family Peer Support Training Program as a consultant in the areas of cultural competence and inclusion, instructional design, and training. She is passionate about teaching, connecting people with one another, and creating curricula that is engaging, challenging, and inclusive. As a licensed psychologist, Soumya sat on the leadership team for the mental health division at the University of Wisconsin, served as adjunct faculty training students in multicultural counseling, and headed an assessment clinic at a non-profit organization. Currently, she serves as a Medical Consultant for the Wisconsin Disability Determination Bureau and as a National Trainer for the National Council for Behavioral Health.


Mari Reynolds is a Family Support Coordinator employed with ASK Resource Center for the past 14 years. Mari has worked with hundreds of families of children with disabilities to help them understand their rights for support in school. She develops and provides training and resource materials to empower families to advocate for their child’s needs. Mari has served on the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Council, and the Trauma Informed Care Stakeholders group, and has worked with many families and educators on problem solving around behavior issues in school. She has a younger brother with multiple disabilities who she has assisted with independent living and employment goals.


Diane Zaerr Brenneman, DMin, Family Peer Support Specialist, is the parent of kids with special needs. She is happy to find a way to use her lived experience by coaching other families of kids with disabilities. She has been a teacher, pastor, administrator and farmer (thankfully, not all at the same time). A thread that weaves through all is the amazing resilience of the human spirit. Children and their families truly can thrive despite what life has thrown at them. She feels privileged to walk alongside families in their journeys.


Martha Hanley, MA, Family Peer Support Specialist, is Program Manager for Family Engagement in the Division of Child and Community Health at the University of Iowa. She is Iowa’s Title V delegate to the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) and received training in AMCHP’s Family Scholar program. She is chair of AMCHP’s Family and Youth Leadership Committee and family faculty in the Iowa Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Project. Among her 5 children and 12 grandchildren are some with mental health diagnoses.


Lauren Vorwald is a Certified Mental Health Peer Support Specialist (MHPSS) and works in the Division of Child and Community Health (DCCH) at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC). Lauren studied broadcast journalism at the University of Northern Iowa. She worked at several TV stations prior to serving as a consulting associate for North American Television for an international media consulting firm. A career change to banking ten years ago helped Lauren enhance her interpersonal communication skills. Lauren has been involved in the development and implementation of the Iowa Peer and Family Peer Support Training Program. She appreciates the strengths-based, person-centered approach of peer support. Lauren is a graduate of the Connecticut Community For Addiction Recovery (CCAR) Recovery Coach Academy (RCA) and trained as a CCAR-RCA facilitator.


Peer & Family Peer Support Advisory Committee Members, Brenda Husman, Sara Knox, David Lange, Jim Norman, Ruth Hart, Michelle Zuerlein, Patty Erb, Lee Ann Logan, Susan Gill, Cindy Burney, Brenda Lechner, Sharon Rettinger


Appalachian Consulting Group
University of Iowa National Resource Center For Family Centered Practice
ASK Resource Center
University of Iowa Child Health Specialty Clinics
Sally Chai, Item Writer
Institute For Public Health Practice, Learning Management System
Dyton Learning Inc., Instructional Design
University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Office of Patient Experience