Meet Members of the Iowa Youth Leadership Academy - The Time to be Awesome is ALWAYS

April 21, 2022

self-advocacy SESSION


Here is an introduction to three of the experts you will learn from in our Self-Advocacy sessions. Don’t forget, there is also an Exhibitor Fair with more than $1000 in prizes at our 10th Annual Together We Can Conference!


Michael Hoenig serves as a Program Coordinator with the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development. He coordinates trainings for various health sciences professional training programs, supports individuals with disabilities enrolled in the Iowa Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (ILEND) graduate training program, administers a program which supports the transition of individuals with disabilities from segregated to community-based settings, and leads self-advocacy training activities. He utilizes his first-hand experience of living with blindness and supporting a family member with mental illness to enhance his work.


Bill Kallestad is the Public Policy Manager for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council representing Iowans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is known for his extensive service provision, advocacy efforts and versatile leadership style. Through the Iowa DD Council and the Iowans with Disabilities in Action program, Bill leads outreach and shapes policy to improve the lives of those he serves. He has also advocated at the state and federal levels to achieve agency priorities and policies. Bill holds a master’s degree in public administration from Drake University.



Edward Esbeck serves as a Self-advocacy Coordinator for the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development. In the fall of 2017, he became ILEND’s first self-advocacy trainee. He drafted a series of recommendations for improving curriculum accessibility and created a self-advocacy trainee handbook. Edward became the first non-clinical ILEND trainee to win the prestigious Alfred Healy Leadership Award. He used funds from this award to travel to his native country, Uganda, where he shared his lived experience and taught classes about self-advocacy to families and students. Edward works on a variety of UCEDD projects related to health care, education, and transition, and is active on many boards and councils.

self-advocacy SESSION:
The Time to be Awesome is ALWAYS


This session will provide an overview of the many self-advocacy opportunities available in Iowa. The session presenters are members of the Iowa Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) training team. Each of them is involved in various self-advocacy networks and will inform participants about how to get connected too.