Shannon Leinert is an accomplished scholar, competitive runner, and entrepreneur. She earned her M.Ed. (’10) and Ph.D. (’13) from the University of Missouri in special education with an emphasis in autism spectrum disorders and positive psychology. She has over three years of experience researching, teaching, and designing goal oriented, positive behavior support plans for individuals with and without disabilities. Shannon teaches an array of courses from assessment to applied behavior analysis as an adjunct instructor in the College of Education at the University of Missouri, Mizzou Online. In addition, Shannon’s private consulting work specializes in behavior change, developing individual and family support plans as well as social competence programming.
In 2013, just shy of her 26th birthday, Shannon successfully defended her dissertation. Three days later she competed at the USA track and field championships, the most prestigious track and field meet in the country. Later that year, Shannon moved half way across the country to Eugene, OR, the mecca of running, to pursue a career in professional running. In 2014, after another successful run at the USA track and field championships, Shannon received an opportunity to train at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA under the guidance of Olympic gold medalist, Joaquim Cruz. Although Shannon has consistently shown to be one of the top 800m runners in the country, She is not without her struggles. Throughout her running career she has endured eight stress fractures, one in particular led to the termination of a college scholarship. These experiences and trials have made Shannon passionate topics on resiliency and advocating for NCAA reform.
In addition to her work in the autism field and running competitively, Shannon co-founded a nutrition science company with her dad, CEO of a biotechnology company. Shannon credits her passion for healthy living combined with the stressors associated with training for the Olympics while working on a Ph.D. to the development of an array of nutritional supplements designed to keep you focused and healthy. Currently, Shannon serves as the athlete ambassador and strategic planner for her company. She is also co-authoring a book aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle through the power of storytelling. Shannon has dedicated the next two years to training for the 2016 Olympic games while living a balanced lifestyle focused on education, sport, and health.