Virtual Community Forum


Making a Difference:

Peer Support in IDD Services

Making a Difference: Peer Support in IDD Services

Individuals with an intellectual and / or developmental disabilities (ID/DD) disproportionately experience mental health conditions. Reasons often include stress related to frustrating social challenges and trauma such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect and bullying. These inherent challenges create a unique susceptibility for the development of mental health conditions. Peer Support Services provide an opportunity for people with ID/IDD to develop social skills, learn how to advocate for their needs and give and receive mutual support from others with lived experience.

On Thursday, March 30 at noon, Integral Care invites you to join us for a virtual Community Forum, “Making a Difference: Peer Support in IDD Services.” Experts from across Texas will discuss the following topics.

  • What Peer Support is and what Peer Support Specialists do
  • How Peer Support Services for IDD came to be
  • The current status of Peer Support in Texas, what’s on the horizon and how you can get involved


  • Louise Lynch, Provider Network & Authority Officer, will moderate the panel.

Our expert panelists include:

  • Jordan Smelley, Mental Health Peer Support Specialist
  • Debbie Kizer, Founder, CEO of Imagine Art
  • Terry Wendling, Program Specialist, The Office of Disability Services Coordination, Texas HHSC

Audience members can submit questions in advance of the forum as well as ask questions directly to our panelists at the end of the discussion. Learn more about our panelists and moderator below.

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Thursday, Mar. 30
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CST


Photo of Jordan SmelleyJordan Smelley, Mental Health Peer Support Specialist

Jordan Smelley is a Mental Health Peer Support Specialist in Texas and a person in long-term recovery from Intellectual and Developmental Differences with Co-occurring Mental Health challenges. Jordan defines his own recovery in relation to the opportunities available to present and educate the community on topics around supporting individuals with IDD. Jordan prioritizes his ability to advocate for himself and others, as well as find robust resources to address ongoing issues that may present. Jordan has created and delivered various presentations and has been involved in IDD Peer Support projects throughout Texas. 

Photo of Debbie KizerDebbie Kizer, Founder & CEO, Imagine Art

Debbie Kizer has served the organization for 26 years.  She describes her role as the perfect job in which she can pioneer new pathways for disability services in Texas while leading an artist to embark on a new series of artwork – all in the same day. Program design is among her favorite activities and in 2018, she designed a program called Training 4 Transformation, a program that trains and certifies Peer Specialists with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities. The program actively employs 6 peer specialists who are working full time, in the art studio setting, with a focus on person centered planning and education on navigating disability service systems. She is a writer and a painter, working primarily in acrylic on canvas with themes of illustrative storytelling. She has self-published a handful of mini-books, including My Canvas Without Edges which are on the adult zine shelf of the Austin Central Public Library. She is married to Brad and mom to two children, Julie Blue (age 17) and Jesse (age 30).  Jesse is a person living with an intellectual developmental disability. He is living a cowboy dream in Round Top Texas. Together, they offer a live presentation, The Cowboy Life, which speaks on natural approaches to person centered planning and building circles of support. 

Photo of Terry WendlingTerry Wendling, Program Specialist V, Person Centered Practices, CPCT Trainer and CPCT Mentor Trainer Candidate, Office of Disability Services Coordination, Community services Division, Chief Program and Services Office

Terry’s career includes 20 years of experience in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities, working for a Home and Community Based Provider in Oklahoma and Tennessee. Terry’s professional journey included positions held as Vocational Program Manager and Area Director while in Oklahoma, Regional Director and Executive Director of operations in the State of TennesseeTerry’s educational studies included attending Oklahoma State University and Northeastern State University and receiving his AS Degree in Business Administration at Connors State while in Oklahoma. Terry received his certification as a Person-Centered Thinking Trainer in June of 2019 and is currently working on his Mentor Trainer Certification. Terry has made it his passion to deliver training and supports to All people in need within the scope of services provided in Oklahoma and Tennessee as well as within the context of his work with HHSC in Texas. Terry works for The Office of Disability Services Coordination and joined the Person-Centered Practices Team with HHSC in Texas in June of 2020. Terry is currently working on his Mentor Certification as a Person-Centered Thinking Trainer. He looks forward to his continuation of supporting people with compassion, dignity and respect and expanding his Person-Centered growth and expertise within the Great State of Texas.


Photo of Louise LynchLouise Lynch, Provider Network & Authority Officer, Integral Care

Louise Lynch serves as Provider Network Authority Officer at Integral Care where she implements expansion of the organization’s external network to enhance consumer choice and best value. She joined Integral Care in 1987. Lynch has an extensive background serving individuals with intellectual disabilities and is a lecturer and field faculty for The University of Texas at Austin. Lynch holds a Masters of Science degree in social work from The University of Texas at Austin and is a licensed social worker with advanced practice recognition. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and is past president of the Texas Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Integral Care supports adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Travis County. Integral Care’s services include a 24-hour helpline for anyone who needs immediate support, ongoing counseling to improve mental health, drug and alcohol treatment to help with recovery, and housing to regain health and independence. Integral Care helps provide a solid foundation for well-being. Founded in 1967, Integral Care is Travis County’s Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority.