Devin Land has been named Community Leader and Executive Director for L’Arche Clinton, a faith-based nonprofit that supports sixteen adults who have intellectual disabilities in family-like homes and apartments. He will begin his role on January 1, 2016.
Founded in 1974, L’Arche Clinton is one of the oldest of the 18 L’Arche communities in the United States. These communities provide homes and workplaces where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as peers; create inclusive communities of faith and friendship; and transform society through relationships that cross social boundaries. At the heart of L’Arche are the adults who have intellectual disabilities—known as “core members”—and the relationships that arise from a shared life.
Land received his PhD in Psychology from the University of Kansas in 2007. His graduate worked focused on cognitive psychology, which is the study of basic brain processes such as perception, attention, memory, and language that underlie everyday cognition. During graduate school he taught at the University of Kansas, and for the past five and a half years has worked as a psychology professor at Ashford University in Clinton. Prior to his career in psychology, Land worked for a decade as a mechanical engineer.
Land’s first introduction to L’Arche was through fellow Ashford University professor Sr. Teresa Judge, a L’Arche board member who helped facilitate a visit between the L’Arche community and Land’s psychology club. He resonated with L’Arche’s message of peace and social justice, equal rights, and respect for everyone.
“The people who choose to share life in L’Arche communities are living examples of how to make the world a better place,” Land said.
In April 2013, he was invited to join the board and has “been smiling about that decision since.” He became the board president in January 2015. (Land recused himself from the board when he put his name forward for the Community Leader position.)
“L’Arche Clinton has a thriving life in each of the homes, and an energetic community spirit,” Land said. “The goal is to tap into that spirit as we develop the leaders, friends, and support that will serve the community into its fiftieth year and beyond.”
L’Arche USA is part of an international federation of L’Arche communities that seeks to make known the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships. There are more than 145 L’Arche communities in 35 countries, including 18 in the United States.
In 2015, L’Arche founder Jean Vanier received the Templeton Prize, valued at $1.7 million, and honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Vanier believes that those who have intellectual disabilities, when fully welcomed in society, can be sources of healing, joy, unity, and peace in our world.