Advocacy and Public Speaking



Member of Iowa Helping Community Policy Group, July 2020-present.

Member of Iowa City School District Disability Sub-committee on Equity Advisory Committee, Spring 2021.

Participant in Roundtables and Facebook Live discussions with presidential candidates as part of the Caucus for Kids Coalition, 2019 caucus season.

Organized Children’s Mental Health Justice Summit for NAMI Johnson County, June 7, 2019.

Spoke at Iowa Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee on the proposed legislation for a Children’s Mental Health System in Iowa, February 27, 2019.

Mothers on the Frontline, Co-founder and President, 2017-present.

NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) Johnson County. Founder of the NAMIJC Children’s Coalition (2018). Chaired the NAMIJC Children’s Mental Health Committee (2014-2016).

NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) Iowa. Member of the Legislative and Advocacy Committees 2018. Chaired  Iowa Children’s Mental Health Committee, (May 2014-December 2017).

Iowa Children’s Mental Health and Well-being Advisory Committee, September 2017-2018.

Iowa Children’s Mental Health and Well-being WorkgroupSeptember-December 2015 and September-December 2016.

Iowa Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council. October 2014-2018.

Coalition for a Children’s Mental Health Redesign in Iowa. Co-chair and co-founder of this coalition of over 45 member organizations and 90 mental health professionals, advocates, and stakeholders. October 2014-August 2015. The coalition produced the Statewide Call for Action: A Strategic Plan for a Children’s Mental Health Redesign in Iowa.”

Regional Autism Assistance Program Advisory Committee, March 2015-2018.

Parents Creating Change in Iowa, March 2014-present.

Ethics Committee, Mayflower Retirement Community, Grinnell, Iowa, 2008-present.

Media Coverage:

Interviewed on “Local Talk” Radio Show on KHOI Community Radio with Charlie Bruner and Alex Waters to discuss the Iowa Helping Community Policy Group, March 25, 2021.

Covered in “Student seclusion reports kept secret by Cedar Rapids, Iowa City School Districts,” by Erin Jordan, The Gazette, January 19, 2020.

Covered in, “Andrew Yang Makes Autism, Disability Policy a Key Campaign Issue,” by Skyler Romero, Parentology: Parenting in the digital age, January 7, 2020.

Interviewed for “Andrew Yang Puts Autism in The Spotlight, but Policy Questions Linger,” NPR, January 3, 2020.

Interviewed for “Iowa City school board hits pause on police offices in schools,” by Molly Duffy,  The Gazette, April 23, 2019.

Interviewed for “Idea to put police officers on campuses gets cold reception from Iowa City School Board,” by Aimee Breaux, Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 23, 2019.

“Iowa City school board hits pause on school resource officers in schools,” by Molly Duffy, The Gazette. April 23, 2019. 

“‘I’m going to help some kids’ Cedar Rapids school resource officers look to be positive influence,” by Molly Duffy, The Gazette, April 20, 2019.

“Jones, Nyden, and Scott to Pursue Innovation Fund Project,” The Scarlet and Black, February 2, 2018.

“Iowans are talking about mental illness, but who will act”? by Kathie Obradovich, Des Moines Register, November 17, 2017.

“Schools Punished Kids by Putting Them in Solitary Boxes,” by Angelica Lai,, October 13, 2017.

Letter to the Editor: “Community mental health services are less expensive than incarceration,” by Tammy Nyden, Des Moines Register, June 27, 2017.

“After Mentally Ill Son Throws Computer at His Teacher, Mom Reaches Out to Families with Disabilities…” by Angie McPherson, Independent Journal Review, January 27, 2017.

“She foresaw disaster when her young son threw a computer at his teacher. How she helped him and other mentally ill kids,” by Sara Maraniss Vander Schaaff in The Answer Sheet Blog: The Washington Post, January 11, 2017.

“Nyden Wins Award for Children’s Mental Health Activism” by Megan Tcheng, The Scarlet and Black, November 11, 2016.

“Violence usually triggers use of seclusion rooms – but not always,” by Erin Jordan,   The Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 18, 2016.

Interviewed on River to River by Ben Kieffer, Iowa Public Radio, June 9, 2016.

 “State mental hospital ends pediatric program, cuts jobs,” by Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, June 3, 2016.

“Murder suspect needs treatment, victim’s friend says,” by Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, March 18, 2016.

“Schizophrenic ‘murders his mental health advocate mom, 63, and 91-year-old grandmother,” by Hannah Parry,, March 21, 2016.

“Mental illness doesn’t excuse murder, prosecutor says,” by Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, March 23, 2016.

“For violent, mentally ill youth, Iowa has few options,” by Lee Rood, Des Moines Register, October 10, 2015.

“Iowa Parents call for a Children’s Mental Health System by 2020: Reform, they say, will save taxpayers money in the long run,” The Gazette, September 17, 2015.

“Parents: Iowa needs children’s mental health care system,” by Erin Murphy, Quad City Times, September 17, 2015.

“Supporters want more mental health support for kids,” by Mark Newman, Ottumwa Courier, September 4, 2015.

“Four Oaks offers mental health help, hope for troubled youth,” by John Skipper, Globe Gazette, August, 23, 2015.

“Registry aims to ease search for mental health care,” by Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, July 19, 2015.

“Nyden named ID Action’s 2014 advocate of the year,” by Paul Deaton, Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 15, 2015.

“Fix Iowa’s broken mental health system for children,” guest columnist for The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, May 21, 2015.

“New state committee to look at children’s mental healthcare,” by Erin Murphy, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, April 24, 2015.

“Mentally ill wait as hospitals struggle to find available beds,” by   Erin Jordan, The Gazette Eastern Iowa , February 22, 2015.

“Waiting lists for disability services continue to grow,” by Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, January 14, 2015.

“Parents rally for more help in dealing with mental illness,” by Pat Curtis, Radio Iowa, December 4, 2014.

“Parents of Mentally Ill Children Rally Iowa Capital,” by Sarah Boden, Iowa Public Radio, December 3, 2014.

“Mentally ill kids need state help, families say,” by Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, December 3, 2014.

“Parents of Mentally Ill Children Rally Iowa Capital,” by Sarah Boden, December 3, 2014.

Talk of Iowa by Charity Nebbe and Lindsey Moon for “Iowa’s Children’s Mental Health Care Crisis”, Iowa Public Radio, May 21, 2014.

Public Speaking:

“The Intersection of Race, Mental Health, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” presentation to teachers at the Iowa City School District, April 26, 2021, (virtual presentation).

“Iowa Helping Community Policy Group Presentation to the Iowa Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council,” presented with Charles Bruner, March 17, 2021, (virtual presentation).

“Children’s Mental Health Justice and the School-Prison Nexus,” Presented to the Iowa City School District Equity Advisory Committee, February 10, 2021, (virtual presentation).

“Children’s Mental Health Justice 101:Navigating Fractured Systems and Advocating for Justice,” presented with Angela Riccio and Dionne Bensonsmith at the National Foundation of Families for Children’s Mental Health 2020, , November 12, 2020, (virtual presentation).

“The Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline & the Need for Children’s Mental Health Justice,” #Scholarstrike Virtual Teach-In, September 9. 2020, (virtual presentation).

“Children’s Mental Health Justice” part of panel on Mental Health at South District Neighborhood Association, October 2, 2019, Iowa City.

“The Disproportionate use of School Discipline on Children with Autism,” Family and Autism: An Honest Conversation with Andrew Yang, December 14, 2019.

Keynote, “The Cradle to Prison Pipeline,” IJAN (Iowa Justice Action Network) Annual Conference, Coralville, November 7, 2019.

Guest Lecture (teleconference) Claremont Graduate University in Dionne Bensonsmith’s Feminist Research Methods Graduate Seminar, October 22, 2019.

“Children’s Mental Health Justice: What Would it Look Like?” NAMI Johnson County Children’s Mental Health Justice Summit, June 7, Coralville Public Library, June 7, 2019.

Panel member after film screening of, “The Kids We Lose”, Iowa City Public Library, April 10, 2019.

“Getting a Conversation Started: Advocating for Change When No One Seems to Be Listening,” Webinar Presentation for the Iowa Family Leadership Program, University of Iowa, March 28, 2019.

Presented on our work on the Digital Story Archive and Data Archive for the Innovation Grant on the School-to-Prison Pipeline at the Obermann Center “Archievs & Social Justice” Working Group, University of Iowa, March 28. 2019.

“NAMI Johnson County Children’s Coalition,” Obermann Conversation on Local Disability Initiatives, Iowa City Public Library, March 27, 2019.

“Talking About Mental Health Justice,” co-presented with Dionne Bensonsmith at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy conference, Hampshire College, March 13, 2019.

“The School-to-Prison-Pipeline,” University of Iowa, Iowa City, “American Dream: A Theme Semester”, February 26, 2019.

Keynote, “Stigma Runs Deep”, in Keynote Session: “Sharing Perspectives on: Anger, Aggression, and Violence! Can we create civility in schools?” Annual Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, Kansas City, February 22, 2019.

“Why Stigma Runs Deep,” Annual Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, Kansas City, February 22, 2019.

Co-facilitated the Digital Stories for Social Justice Workshop: The School-to-Prison Pipeline Archive, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, October 26-27, 2018.

“The School-to-Prison Pipeline,” Keynote address at the Iowa City Human Rights Commission Award Breakfast, Iowa City, October 24, 2018.

Panel Participant, “Careers Connection Science and the Social Good,” Grinnell Prize Week, Grinnell College, October 4, 2018.

Panel Participant, “Engaging in the Election Process,” Make Your Mark Conference, Rathbun Lake, Iowa, September 27-28, 2018.

Panel Participant, “Digital Projects Panel,” Grinnell College, August 16, 2018.

Panel Participant, “Using Digital Stories in our Teaching,” Digital Bridges Summer Institute, University of Iowa, May 29-June 2, 2018.

“Storytelling for Healing,” Together We Can Conference, Ask Resources, Des Moines, Iowa, May 5, 2018.

“Children’s Mental Health Care Legislation in the State of Iowa,” Mental Health Forum sponsored by the The League of Women Voters, Grinnell Iowa, April 5, 2018.

“What is Happening with Advocacy for Kids? or Why we can no longer wait?” NAMI Iowa Day on the Hill, Des Moines, February 21, 2018.

“The Status of Children’s Mental Health in Iowa,” Speaker at Community Connections, NAMI Greater Des Moines, January 16, 2018.

“The State of Children’s Mental Health in Iowa,” NAMI Iowa Annual Conference, Des Moines, November 17, 2017.

Co-Presented with Dionne Bensonsmith: “Mothers on the Frontline: Story Telling as Advocacy,” Federation of Familes for Children’s Mental Health National Annual Conference, Orlando, Florida, November 10, 2017.

“Mental Health and Special Education: A Parent’s Perspective,” Guest Speaker at Grinnell College Education class, October 25, 2017.

“The Power of Our Stories: Achieving Mental Health and Criminal Justice Transformation Through Women’s Stories,” Grinnell Prize Week Panel with Mothers on the Frontline and the Essie Foundation, October 3, 2017.

“Making our Stories Count: Advocating for Children’s Mental Health in Iowa,” The 2017 Iowa Parents of Children with Behavioral Health Conference by  Please Pass the Love, September 9, 2017.

“Advocacy: Mothers’ Stories,” Guest Speaker at meeting of University of Iowa Children’s Specialty Clinics Family Advisory Council, June 15, 2017.

“Never Underestimate the Power of Your Voice,””Go There, Lean In — How to lobby your legislators” University of Iowa Teach-In, Sociology Dept. March 22, 2017.

“We Are All in this Together: Positive Systems Change for Iowa’s Children,” 3rd Annual Iowa School-Based Mental Health Conference, Des Moines, October 16, 2015.

“What Works: School Programs for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbance,” Member of Parent Panel. 3rd Annual Iowa School-Based Mental Health Conference, Des Moines, October 16, 2015.

“Ways to Advocate for Children’s Mental Health,” Guest Lecture for Bengu Erguner-Tekinalp’s Graduate-level Practicum for Clinical Mental Health, Clinical Rehabilitation, and School Counseling Students, Drake University, September 30, 2015.

Webinar Speaker, Prevention of Disability Webinar, January 30, 2015.

“The State of Children’s Mental Health in Iowa,” presented at Iowa Health and Disability Advisory Board Meeting, January 27, 2015.

Keynote speaker at NAMI Iowa Walk, October 4, 2014.


Designing Powerful Solutions, online course at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) at Eastern Mennonite University, February 16 – March 18, 2021.

Youth Mental Health First Aid, June 2015.

ID Action Capital Day Advocacy Training, March 2014.

NAMI Smarts Advocacy Training, September 2014.

NAMI Basics Teacher Training: A NAMI peer education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents with mental illness, October 2014.