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Peer Support Trainings

Find the list of upcoming trainings below:



Adult Peer Support Specialist Training

November 13-17, 2017

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The Hotel at Kirkwood Center

7725 Kirkwood Boulevard SW, 52404

Applications will be accepted from Sept 18-Oct 6


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 in 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 MSW, 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 has 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.

Curriculum Consultants

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. She dedicates her work life to advocating for marginalized and vulnerable groups.  Most recently, Diane is 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.

Jill Kluesner, MA, CRC has worked 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, has worked 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 creative 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, headed an assessment clinic at a non-profit organization, and provided Mental Health First Aid trainings to local communities and school districts. 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.

For more information or to request an application, please visit

What is Peer Support and Why is it Important?

Peer support is the process of giving and receiving encouragement and assistance to help others achieve long-term recovery. Peer Support professionals offer emotional support, share knowledge, teach skills, provide practical assistance, and connect people with resources and opportunities. This is an integral and invaluable facet in the recovery journey. Navigating the mental health system, advocating for your needs and finding the best resources can be a difficult process, but a peer support specialist uses their knowledge and experience to help those in recovery with their needs.

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