Who We Are
With locations in Lincoln, Omaha, and surrounding rural areas, Extended Families of Nebraska provides high quality habilitative services both residentially through the Shared Living model and vocationally at our day service Abilities. In both settings, we provide each person served with a positive, supportive environment free of abuse, neglect, harassment, and exploitation.
We do this by employing experienced and qualified direct support staff and subcontractors. EFN is confident that they will provide quality, person-centered services to the people we support. As much as possible, we aim to give people every opportunity to make choices and help them live fulfilling and meaningful lives.
Founder & CEO
Cindy has over 30 years of professional experience working in the field of Developmental Disabilities (DD) and a lifetime of personal experience, having an older sister she adored with Down Syndrome. She has three undergraduate degrees and was working on her Masters in Business Administration. Cindy truly has a rounded background in the field of DD.
As a child, Cindy worked with her sister Karyn to assist her in learning, growing, experiencing life, and being a good sister. Later, she served as Karyn’s guardian. Cindy worked direct care in both day and residential settings. She managed group homes and in-home services. She was a surveyor for the State of Nebraska–assessing compliance for providers and assisting them to meet those requirements. Cindy went back to the private sector where she provided quality assurance activities and training for a local DD provider, later becoming the Area Director for their Lincoln program. Cindy was then recruited by a national DD provider. She served as their State Director for seven years, before deciding she was not really corporate material. Her family also opened their home to an elderly man in services, providing Extended Family Home services, now known as Shared Living.
As the months passed, many of Cindy’s staff contacted her asking when she was going to start her own agency, so they could transfer to her. Cindy opened Extended Families of Nebraska, LLC on 01/01/2011, contracting with Shared Living Providers. Abilities, EFN’s day services, opened its doors on 04/14/2014. Cindy is very proud of her amazing leadership team, our dedicated Shared Living Providers, and all of EFN’s staff, who work very hard to provide the highest level of quality of care possible.
On a personal note, Cindy has one beautiful, amazing daughter who is grown and on her own, two sweet little Pomeranians who keep her company in the evening, a canary who is an amazing singer, and a gecko, who well, is her daughters and Cindy’s for now. Cindy loves being outdoors, gardening, swimming, and traveling to our national parks, as well as relaxing on the beaches of the Gulf coast.
Most importantly, Cindy wants to be sure that Extended Families of Nebraska provides the best quality of care possible for people living with disabilities and treats all subcontractors and staff with a high level of dignity and respect, striving towards “Making a Positive Difference, One Family at a Time!”
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Human Resources Director
Lia started working as an Administrative Assistant at Extended Families of Nebraska in May of 2017, and in 2019 enjoyed the role as Activities Coordinator at Abilities. She used her skills in painting, drawing, and crafts to entertain and to come up with some fun activities to do with individuals. In the spring of 2022 Lia transitioned into the role as EFN’s Human Resources Director. Emilia also continues to help to organize events and activities in the community.
Lia enjoys nature, animals of all kinds, and loves to paint, draw, and do any type of arts and crafts whenever she gets the chance to do so. Lia has been around individuals with developmental disabilities her whole life and loves to care for people. She has always enjoyed this field of work and wants to continue to build a career for herself around this field. She is a fast learner who is very willing to learn and help our team!
Lisa joined Extended Families of Nebraska in July 2022 as their Business Director. With over 30 years of experience in the Human Services field, Lisa brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role. After completing her studies in Business Administration/Accounting at Southeast Community College, she initially pursued a career in Accounting and Human Resources. However, it was her later transition to an Office Manager position in the Human Services world that ignited her passion for the mission, the people, and the teams she has had the privilege to work with throughout her career. Lisa’s creativity extends beyond her professional life, as she also holds a degree in photography and enjoys capturing the world around her through her lens. In her free time, Lisa, along with her husband Troy, finds joy in hosting dinner parties and spending quality time with their family, friends, and beloved fur Kids.
Sarah grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska. She started volunteering as a teacher’s aide for the special education department in 6th grade and continued throughout high school. This helped her form some great relationships with people she would go on to support as a DSP at ILC in Grand Island. She started her associate degree in Grand Island, stayed at ILC for 3 years, and then decided to continue her education. That brought Sarah to Lincoln, where she finished her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Criminal Justice.
She transferred to the ILC here in Lincoln, where she moved up and stayed for almost 7 years. While with ILC, she held the role of a Vocational DSP, a Residential DSP, Vocational Manager, and finally a Residential Coordinator. Sarah plans on using her variety of experiences in the field to continue helping one family at a time, extending more person-centered options to people supported in rural settings, and continuing to build top-notch day programs with well-trained and appreciated staff.
In Sarah’s spare time, she loves to spend time with her wild toddler, significant other, family, and friends. Traveling, planning trips, reading, her planner, and attempting to keep plants alive are a few of her favorite things. Having worked a variety of different part-time jobs throughout the years, nothing has ever come close to filling my cup the way the DD field does. She often jokes, “I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t involved with people with disabilities”, but it’s not really a joke. She loves her job and how no two days are ever quite the same. She is very excited to be onboard as the Area Director of a company that places the focus on person-centered supports with such a well-qualified team of people carrying out the mission.
Staff Development Quality Improvement Coordinator
Savino joined Extended Families of Nebraska as the new Day Service Coordinator in April 2021. Savino has worked with the DD community for about four years. In 2017, he started off in the field as a Direct Support Professional, and was promoted to Residential Manager within three months at EFN. He continued to expand his knowledge and growth within that company until he saw the exciting opportunity to broaden his knowledge further as the Staff Development Quality Improvement Coordinator at EFN.
Savino brings with him a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Nebraska, a bright shining smile, and a can-do attitude. Savino is very pleased with the welcoming environment at EFN. His goals for his future are to continue to expand the Day Service program at EFN and to keep giving individuals who attend the day program a reason to smile.
Savino has been in Nebraska since his mid-teenage years. Prior to living in Nebraska, he spent years in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and Hampton, Georgia. In his spare time, Savino is a dedicated family man. He is married to his amazing wife, Rebecca, and recently, they added a new light to their lives, a daughter, Saige. When Savino is not busy attending to his family and work, he loves to spend time cooking in the kitchen.
Elizabeth is a native of Lincoln, NE, residing in Eagle, NE for the last 12 years, and a graduate of Lincoln East High School. Elizabeth earned her Bachelor’s degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University in Biology. Elizabeth has enjoyed her work in the DD field since 2001.
“I enjoy working with others, especially those with disabilities. They are more accepting of others than ‘regular folks,’ and they don’t judge you for being awkward and silly–they embrace it.”
She has experience working residentially for 3 1/2 years and vocationally for 9 years. Elizabeth has also served as an Extended Family Home Provider for 11 1/2 years. Elizabeth started with Extended Families of Nebraska in February 2018 as a Residential Coordinator.
Personally, Elizabeth has been married for 14 years, has a four year old daughter, and a German Shepherd/Bernese Mountain Dog named Stella Blue. Her favorite colors are purple and turquoise, and her favorite animal is a hippopotamus.
Elizabeth has been a Master Gardner with the UNL Extension office for almost seven years. Her focus in the program is plant diseases and insects. Her nickname at the EFN is “Mother Nature.”
In her free-time, she enjoys sleeping, being outside, camping, gardening, playing with her house plants, and roller skating. Elizabeth has been a member of two different Roller Derby teams in the past 10 years; the No Coast Derby Girls and the Cass County Roller Girls.
Heather Short comes to Extended Families of Nebraska with 30 years of experience in the field of Developmental Disabilities. Heather started her career by assisting in moving individuals out of institutions in North Dakota in the mid-1980s. Since working in North Dakota, Heather has worked in several states as a Direct Support Professional, Coordinator, and a variety of other positions. Heather has been an Extended Family Home Provider for more than 10 years.
Heather’s philosophy is, “it helps to have a sense of humor.” Heather received her Bachelor’s degrees in Education and Psychology from the University of North Dakota. When not at work, she enjoys relaxing with her family, traveling, and reading post-apocalyptic science fiction.
Day Services Team
Day Service Coordinator
Irina’s Bio will be update soon.
Tim started his work as an Administrative Assistant at Extended Families of Nebraska in 2017. Tim is a native of Missouri who came to Lincoln at the age of 14 years old.
Before working at EFN, Tim held the position of Lead Supervisor in the UNL cafeteria grill for nearly four years. Tim was responsible for ensuring the staff he worked with greeted students and guests. Tim also worked to keep the grill clean and learned to follow health codes.
Tim has also worked at Best Buy where he worked as a Customer Service Representative and assisted with cleaning duties.
As an Administrative Assistant, Tim assists with greeting and gathering information about new applicants and potential providers. Tim is passionate about having a part in finding people who will provide quality service. He says,
“I like helping to find applicants that integrate individuals as part of their family.”
Tim also excels in taking incoming daily phone calls, ensuring office equipment is functional, setting up service calls as needed, assisting in filing, running errands, and maintaining a presentable and clean work environment. Tim’s attitude and work ethic helps create a positive, encouraging, and fun work environment.
In his free time, Tim enjoys watching and playing sports, especially basketball, softball, flag football, and volleyball, listening to music and attending concerts, and collecting and watching movies, especially D.C. and Marvel movies.
Tim also enjoys spending time with his mother and her wife, his sister, his brother-in-law and niece, and his brother and sister-in-law who all live in Lincoln. Tim also enjoys animals and currently lives with a dog and four cats.
Kallen grew up in Clarinda, IA on a farm. She raised dogs, cattle, horses, Pygmy goats, and ducks on the farm. After graduating from high school, Kallen attended Peru State College, where she majored in Elementary Education. Following her graduation, she moved to Nebraska City and worked at a daycare while also substituting as a teacher for a few years. It was during this time that Kallen developed a deep passion for the field of DD services after meeting a friend whose child was receiving these services. Kallen then relocated to Lincoln and began working at ILC, where she filled various roles including DSP, vocational manager, and SLP. Taking a brief break from work, Kallen subsequently joined EFN as an office manager.
Kallen’s free time is dedicated to her recently purchased home, where she enjoys the company of her corgi, black lab, and cat. However, her greatest joy in life comes from spending quality time with her niece and nephew. When not working, you can find Kallen engrossed in a good book, singing, cherishing moments with loved ones, or exploring new destinations through travel.