By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
CLINTON —Since the start of the year, L’Arche Clinton has welcomed three new members to its team. Devin Land is the new community leader and executive director, Jean Bormann is the new development director and Amanda Eberhart serves as board president.
Founded in 1974, L’Arche Clinton is a faith-based nonprofit that supports 16 adults who have intellectual disabilities in family-like homes and apartments. It 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 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 Sister Teresa Judge, OSF, 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.
Bormann first encountered L’Arche more than 30 years ago when she and her husband were exploring living situations for his sister, who has Down syndrome. It left a lasting impression. When a friend alerted her of the job opening, she knew it was a perfect fit. Since starting March 1, Bormann said she has experienced peace and tranquility in her new role.
“To work in an environment that embraces prayer in today’s world is so refreshing,” she said. She is also enjoying relationships with the core members, who she says offer her unconditional love.
Prior to joining L’Arche, Bormann worked in advertising. She also has experience in creative layout and design, and volunteer fundraising for nonprofits.
Amanda Eberhart holds a bachelor’s degree in business education from Ashford University. Early in her teaching career she taught middle and high school computer and business courses. The students with special needs were some of her favorites to have in class. “I developed a love for individuals with intellectual needs during my time at the school,” she said.
She has known some of the core members from L’Arche Clinton since the early 1990s through her parish, Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace-Clinton. When she changed careers in 2013 and became the development director for the Sisters of St. Francis, the connection became stronger.
In addition to her desire to advocate for and with people who have intellectual disabilities, Eberhart said L’Arche helps her “imagine the world differently.”
Through L’Arche, she has learned to connect with others on a more spiritual level and sees the world as a more peaceful place. “I am realizing that there are challenges in each day, but they aren’t challenges that can’t be overcome.”