About the Belin-Blank Center

The mission of the Belin-Blank Center is to empower and serve the international gifted community through exemplary leadership in programs, research, and advocacy.

The Belin-Blank Center:

  • Identifies gifted, talented, and artistic learners;
  • Offers specialized educational opportunities for students;
  • Increases awareness and use of acceleration to enhance learning;
  • Provides assessment, counseling, and consultation services;
  • Develops curriculum resources and materials;
  • Facilitates the professional development of educators;
  • Disseminates information through conferences and publications;
  • Enhances educational opportunities through technology;
  • Collaborates with the worldwide gifted community;
  • Promotes access, diversity, and equity in developing talent in accordance with the University of Iowa's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan.

Meet the Staff

In The Media

Dr. Alissa Doobay featured on the Neurodiversity Podcast

What is the process of evaluating a child for autism? What does the profile of an autistic twice-exceptional person look like? Why are girls’ autism symptoms often missed? Dr. Alissa Doobay from the Belin-Blank Center joins the Neurodiversity Podcast to talk about autism, on episode 70 of Mind Matters.

Alissa Doobay featured on the Neurodiversity Podcast

Dr. Assouline Inducted into 2E News Hall of Fame

In this 2e Hall of Famers video feature Tom Ropelewski chatting with 2e Hall of Famer Susan Assouline of the Belin-Blank Center about the appropriateness of acceleration for twice-exceptional students.

2E News article featuring Dr. Assouline

Hiding in plain sight

A twice-exceptional (2e) child’s giftedness can overshadow their disability—or vice versa.

Twice Exceptional Story

NAGC Discusses Residential Programs

Students Move Home, But Residential Programs Continue to Provide Support

NAGC: Residential Programs

Education Week Features the Belin-Blank Center's Guide Gifted 101

What Exactly is Gifted Education? What does it mean to be gifted? How is talent development different from gifted education? What are acceleration and enrichment? A new guide from the Belin-Blank Center, Gifted Education 101: The Basics, attempts to give clarity to a misunderstood field.

Education Week: What Exactly is Gifted Education

Small Town, Big Talent

With advances in technology, students across the world have access to a range of educational opportunities unthinkable even a decade ago. But even as global connections and new modes of teaching proliferate, place still matters.

Gifted Students with Autism Find an Intellectual Oasis in Iowa

How one Iowa high school is teaching more students in Advanced Placement classes

More students of color taking classes than before at Iowa City's West High

Iowa City West High School senior Isabella Hoeger-Pinto raises her hand with other students after answering a question

Gifted Students with Autism Find an Intellectual Oasis in Iowa

Educators refer to teens like Alex as "twice exceptional." "I have a large degree of skill in almost every subject of learning," says Alex, who is 16. "But I also have autistic spectrum disorder."

Gifted Students with Autism Find an Intellectual Oasis in Iowa

Bright Now: Twice Exceptional

Megan Foley Nicpon, counseling psychology professor at the University of Iowa and researcher at the Belin-Blank Center, joins CTY's Jonathan Plucker for a wide-ranging discussion of twice-exceptional learners, including what "twice-exceptional" (or "2e") means, the unique barriers and challenges 2e students face, and how their needs differ from those of other high-ability learners.

Twice Exceptional

Advisory Board

Board Members

Pat Ballou Urbandale, IA
Laurie Belin Des Moines, IA
Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan Woody Creek, CO
Julius C. Carter Chicago, IL
Nicholas Colangelo Iowa City, IA
Bob Downer Iowa City, IA
Tracy Drew Plymouth, MA
Dick Ferguson Iowa City, IA
Ann Hoffman Cedar Rapids, IA
James E. Hoffman Cedar Rapids, IA
Alyssa Levitz Seattle, WA
Randi Levitz Iowa City, IA
Heidi Molbak New Orleans, LA
Jeffrey Perry Washington, DC, MD
William Perry White Plains, NY
Barbara Ross Belin New York City, NY
Theodore (Bob) Scarborough Wheaton , IL
Sarvjeev Sidhu Cedar Rapids, IA
Shabana Sidhu Iowa City, IA
Ann Smith Burlingame, CA
Don Swartz Mission Hills, KS
Gregs Thomopulos Iowa City, IA
Paul Thompson Denver, CO
Bret Ulery Columbia, MO
Alex Vacca Annandale, VA
Gregory Walker Chicago, IL


Thomas Belin Los Angeles, CA

Ex-Officio Members

Susan Assouline Iowa City, IA
Daniel Clay Iowa City, IA
Montserrat Fuentes Iowa City, IA
Bruce Harreld Iowa City, IA
Lynette Marshall Iowa City, IA
Linda Snetselaar Iowa City, IA
Art Spisak Iowa City, IA
Tanya Uden-Holman Iowa City, IA

Founders (In Memoriam)

David Belin West Des Moines, IA
Connie Belin West Des Moines, IA
Myron Blank Des Moines, IA
Jacqueline Blank Des Moines, IA

In Memoriam

Joy Corning Des Moines, IA
Michael New Iowa City, IA
Carmen Sosa Ankeny, IA
Jocelyn Wallace Poughkeepsie, NY
H.B. Wallace (Honorary) Scottsdale, AZ
Ted Wheat Des Moines, IA
Darrell Wyrick Iowa City, IA
Ann York Iowa City, IA

Our Story

John F. Kennedy

All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talent.
John F. Kennedy

The Belin-Blank Center owes its existence to the vision and philanthropy of our founders, David and Connie Belin and Myron and Jaqueline Blank. The Belins and Blanks believed talented and gifted students were not adequately served in school, and they hoped to support efforts to improve the situation. The two families made significant financial commitments while joining forces to secure state funding for the creation of a comprehensive center.

Founded in 1988, the Belin-Blank Center quickly developed into an internationally-respected powerhouse providing innovative programming for gifted and talented students in addition to our groundbreaking work with teachers. As we grew, the Center added counseling services and programming for twice-exceptional children--those who are both gifted and have a diagnosed disorder that impacts their learning or social-emotional development. We also moved into our award-winning building, the Blank Honors Center, built through private donations.

Jacqueline Blank

We tossed a small pebble, and it made a big splash.
Jacqueline Blank

The Perry family of New York are longtime supporters of the Belin-Blank Center. For the Perry family, the Belin-Blank Center has been a source of pride for four generations. Beverly Perry’s parents were Mike and Jackie Blank, who, along with David and Connie Belin, provided the foundational support that launched the Belin-Blank Center. The Perrys, including Beverly, her children Jeff and Shoshana, and Jeff's son William, have been long-time donors to the Center. Among other things, their generous donations have enabled us to establish and make scholarships available to students for the Perry Research Scholars Institute

Henry B. and Jocelyn Wallace of Scottsdale, Arizona, have also been outstanding advocates for gifted students and longtime supporters of the Belin-Blank Center. The Assessment and Counseling Clinic was made possible by a generous gift from Henry B. and Jocelyn Wallace of Scottsdale, Arizona. This Clinic testifies to their generosity and vision that gifted children and their families would have opportunities to receive counseling services. Their generous donation has enabled us to make grants available to students in our summer programs that cover up to one-half of the program cost.

Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan is a longtime friend of the Belin-Blank Center, and many of her generous gifts have supported the arts. Specifically, she has supported specialized programming for students as well as the acquisition of works of art for the Center’s public collection. The daughter of a well-known art collector, the late Melva Bucksbaum, as well as an artist herself, Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan is committed to supporting the ongoing emphasis on the arts in the Center’s student programs. A generous gift from Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan and Patrick Scanlan, honoring Mary’s parents, Martin and Melva Bucksbaum, established the Bucksbaum Early Entrance STEAM Academy. The Bucksbaum Academy puts the ideas the Center champions into motion via early admission to the University of Iowa for bright high school sophomores and juniors. This program seeks talented and gifted students in the arts in addition to those who excel in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). As a result, the Academy is a STEAM program, with the A representing the arts.

Philanthropy has been one of the wonderfully unique successes of the Belin-Blank Center. The tremendous generosity of those who believe in providing opportunities for gifted students and their teachers has marked our founding and history. Underlying the stewardship of our founding families’ vision and the generosity of all of our donors is the belief that gifted students hold enormous potential to solve intractable problems, discover the unimaginable, and create beauty when their talents are appropriately recognized and fully nurtured.

To contribute to the Belin-Blank Center online please visit the University of Iowa Foundation.