New Leadership for Check & Connect: Letter from Eileen Klemm

We are sad that Jean K. Echternacht recently left the University of Minnesota, and thankful for her years of leadership and service. We are also excited that Eileen Klemm, national Check & Connect trainer since 2012, has taken the helm. Read her letter below providing vision and context to her new role as Check & Connect program manager.

I am thrilled to now serve in the position of Check & Connect program manager. After nearly five years as a Check & Connect (C&C) project coordinator and national trainer, I am ready and motivated to grow the impact of C&C nationally and even internationally. I have a vision for expanding the array of C&C training and technical assistance opportunities available to mentors, coordinators, and certified local C&C trainers. I want to support the dedicated professionals who are implementing and providing training on this evidence-based model. I am also eager to put into practice what I am learning through my doctorate in evaluation studies at the University of Minnesota (the working title of my dissertation is Ensuring Fidelity of Implementation of Check & Connect: The Role of Evaluation).

Life is truly a journey, so how did I get here? I began my professional career 26 years ago as a volunteer coordinator at a residential facility for adults with physical disabilities. A few years later I decided to embark on an uphill climb through graduate school. Earning my M.A. landed me in the Saint Paul Public Schools and later in a nearby suburban school as a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Thirteen years later, I was ready for another uphill challenge. I enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota in evaluation studies. During this time, my career path took me to the Minnesota Department of Education and ultimately to Check & Connect at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.

Since then, not only have I been able to help grow C&C, I have also recently reached the milestone of Ph.D. candidacy, so I am ready to embark on my dissertation. I begin my new role just as C&C is reaching three milestones:

  1. Perhaps the most exciting milestone is the imminent release of the C&C APP this fall. This online system provides an avenue for monitoring student progress, tracking interventions, and ensuring fidelity of implementation.
  2. Secondly, we will soon add Montana as our 8th state utilizing the C&C train-the-trainer model, as professionals in that area become certified local C&C trainers this coming year.
  3. Lastly, we are hosting our second biennial C&C conference on October 12-13 on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. I hope to see many of you there.

Here’s to a great start to a new school-year!


Photo of Eileen Klemm
Eileen A. Klemm
Check & Connect Program Manager

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