Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D.
Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D. — award-winning speaker & NY Times Bestselling author — is a noted advocate for personal and world peace, as well as children’s & families’ needs and rights in health & education. The author of “Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs,” Jeni’s inspirational message about hope, peace, disability, hospice, grief, support, parenting, collaboration, motivation, and spirituality has been carried by all media outlets.
Like her son, the late bestselling poet & peace advocate, Mattie J.T. Stepanek, Jeni has a rare neuromuscular disease, and relies on a ventilator and wheelchair for breathing and mobility. A noted guest on Good Morning America, Oprah, Larry King and the MDA Labor Day Telethon, Mattie created poetry and essays from age 3 until he passed away in 2004 at age 13, and published 7 books that became NY Times Bestsellers. Mattie is the youngest of Jeni’s four children. All four — Katie, Stevie, Jamie, & Mattie — died during childhood due to complications of the genetic neuromuscular disease Jeni unknowingly passed on to the children before she was diagnosed.
Today, Jeni works as an inspirational speaker, a peace advocate, and a research and editorial consultant. She serves as a National Vice President for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and a Governor for the We Are Family Foundation. From 2005 until 2010, Jeni served as the Chair of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, and has served as the Executive Director since 2010.
She earned her Ph.D. and M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Maryland where she is currently a faculty research associate. She works as an Education Specialist with Connections Beyond Sight and Sound (the Maryland Deaf-blind Project) and as the Program Evaluation Specialist for Personnel Preparation in Early Childhood Special Education. Her B.A. was earned in psychology and journalism from The Catholic University of America.
Also known as “Mama Peace,” Jeni is dedicated to mentoring international teens who are committed to creating projects that tend to the basic needs of people around the world. To date, she works with 147 teens from nearly 40 countries on 6 continents who have 1 purpose: peace.
In her free time she enjoys photography, journaling, and watching the world grow forthward. When she grows up, Jeni wants to be 83, and a beach chair philosopher.
For more information about Jeni or Mattie Stepanek,
please visit www.MattieOnline.com
or e-mail HeartsongBooks@gmail.com.