Board of Directors

Larry Krell – President

Larry Krell has been working on the philosophy and practical applications of Communio for approximately 40 years. He has had extensive experience in inner city work as executive director of Bicentennial Civic Improvement Corporation and the community organizer of Mullanphy Area Rehabilitation Corporation in St. Louis, MO. As director, he received many accolades for his work in urban St. Louis, most notably, from famed architect and city planner Albert Mayer. Of Krell’s work in urban rehabilitation, Mayer wrote, “[He has] been able to do many important things at a number of levels, which have meshed together to produce an unusual and perhaps unprecedented total result in urban life. Mayer went on to write that, “it would be a very good move indeed to involve [Krell] in any leadership situation where great dedication, imagination, insight, and experience are important.”

Krell also served as a consultant for Urban America out of Washington, D.C. As a consultant to the Urban League of Omaha, NE, he started the Urban League Housing Foundation program. He rehabilitated, built or consulted on HUD 235 single family dwellings, 221(h) rehabilitation of single family dwellings, 236 multifamily units, housing for the elderly and conventionally financed units in large metro areas, small towns and rural areas. Larry has a B.S. in Agriculture and a B.A. in Philosophy. He also served in the Army Intelligence in Germany for 13 months.

Larry is the father of two adopted children with intellectual disabilities, Donny, 36 years old, and Thomas, 18 years old, who has Down syndrome, plus five other adopted children.

Fr. Val Peter, JCD, STD – Vice President

Fr. Val Peter was the executive Director of Boys Town for twenty years. At the present time he is the Associate Pastor of the Dowd Chapel, Boys Town, NE. He attended Gregorian University, University of St. Thomas, and Lateran University, all in Rome. Previous assignments include: College of Saint Mary Omaha; University of Nebraska, Omaha; Creighton
University, Omaha; Boys Town; defender of Bond and Judge, Archdiocesan Matrimonial Tribunal; and official notary for Vatican II 3rd (1963) and 4th (1964) sessions, Rome.

Fr. Peter also received numerous awards and was part of a number of organizations including: Who’s Who in America; presidential award from the National Association of Homes and Services for Children in 1999; Nebraska Foundation’s 2007 Nebraskalander of the Year; 2000 Wallenberg Humanitarian Award (New York Chapter); chair of the Board of the North American edition of the International Review Communio; translator for Monitor Ecclesiasticus, decisions for the Sacred Rome Rota; and member of 11 boards.

Erin Brandenburg – Secretary

Erin Brandenburg taught for six years in the J.P. Lord School, which specializes in dealing with children with severe mental and physical disabilities. She has been affiliated with the Munroe-Meyer Institute for 10 years. The Munroe-Meyer Institute is in alliance with the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE. Brandenburg is currently an Adaptive Therapy Specialist at The Munroe-Meyer Institute where she works with intellectually disabled persons of all ages. She has her B.A. in Elementary Special Education and M.S. In Curriculum and Learning.

Michael Krell – Treasurer

Michael Krell is the biological son of Larry Krell. Having lived with both Donny and Thomas, he has hands-on experience with the everyday living of those who are intellectually disabled. Krell is currently the operations manager of The Stephen Center in Omaha, NE. Many of the clients at this emergency homeless shelter are intellectually disabled and suffer from mental illness. He has his B.S. in Economics.

Mary Schutt

Mary Schutt has worked for ENCORE (Eastern Nebraska Office of Retardation and Developmental Disabilities) since 1980, and is currently the vocational coordinator for the work sites in the Central Area of Region 6 of ENCORE. Schutt has been chosen to be one of the upcoming representatives of Region 6 for ENCORE. She has her B.A. in Special Education and Therapeutic Recreation.

Patricia McGill Smith

Patricia McGill Smith is the former executive director of the National Parent Network on Disabilities, and was responsible for establishing the first office for the organization in Washington, DC. Before serving as executive director, Smith was the acting assistant and deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the United States Department of Education. In addition, she is the former deputy director of the National Information Center on Children and Youth with Disabilities.

Smith was also the first paid parent coordinator for the Pilot Parent Program in Nebraska, which has been replicated nationally and internationally. She spent 5 years as the parent activity consultant for the Munroe-Meyer Children’s Rehabilitation Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Smith currently serves as senior advisor for the National Down Syndrome Society.

Smith is the mother of a child with multiple disabilities, as well as six other children, and the grandmother of an adopted grandson with Down syndrome.

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