advisory board

ELIZABETH ALVARADO, Vice President of Operations for Wheels of Progress, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker-R with 20 years of clinical practice working with individuals, families, and groups.  Her areas of specialization include: clinical assessment; treatment and long term planning across the continuum of care; end of life and palliative care; group work with cancer survivors; geriatric case management; working with people with a traumatic brain injury.  She has provided clinical supervision and administrative oversight to five community based programs serving the homebound elderly, caregivers, people with mental health disorders, and the chronically medically ill with physical and cognitive impairments.  Elizabeth was an adjunct professor at Columbia School of Social Work and is currently at the Graduate School of Social Work at Hunter College and also at Boston University.  She is on the Board of The Helen Rehr Center for Social Work Practice and does private consulting work in New York.

APRIL COUGHLIN has helped many young people with spinal cord injuries get back to “living” life fully—as she herself has done.  Paralyzed for 27 years, she is an accomplished athlete who also mentors newly injured individuals at Mount Sinai Hospital’s SCI Rehabilitation Department with knowledge, caring, and sensitivity.  April has been a powerful advocate, speaking to medical students and educators about the most pressing issues and concerns of those in the disability community. She worked for six years as a high English school teacher in New York City. Disturbed by the way students with physical disabilities are often treated and neglected in schools, April went on to complete a second Master’s degree in Disability Studies. She is currently pursuing a PhD program in Education and Disability Studies and plans to focus her research on adolescents with physical disabilities and their identity development.

PHILIP GORMLEY, Vice President of Peacock Apparel (Bill Blass, etc.), has helped raise millions of dollars for charitable causes: the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; MAC Angels (which helps families of those with ALS improve their quality of life); ALS Warrior for Life; the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  He has done this through fundraising events like the Hudson River Swim for Life.  Phil, a certified Triathlon coach who has taught hundreds of adults and children, knows that a disability is a challenge but not a deterrent to participation.  He understands the dire need to have appropriate housing for young persons with spinal injuries so they can participate fully in society and reinvent themselves.

JULIA HAHN-GALLEGO is the President of Sceno Interior Design.  Her corporate and private clients include:  the Guggenheim Museum (since 2003), Continuity, Inc, Phoenix Productions, and Paul Winter. Her expertise includes Universal Design: every space is created to be used by all, regardless of his or her ability.  Julia earned a Master’s of Fine Arts in design from The Academy Minerva in the Netherlands.  She has volunteered her design skills to Daniel's Music Foundation since 2006 and the Appalachian Service Project in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee over several years.  She has been involved with Wheels of Progress from the beginning.

JOSE HERNANDEZ is a perfect example of what a person living with a disability is capable of doing with motivation and will.  As a result of an accident at the beach when he was 14, Jose sustained a spinal cord injury which rendered him a quadriplegic.  He went on to excel academically and complete his Bachelor’s  degree in Computer Science at St. John's University.  He has volunteered as a peer-mentoring coordinator for over a year and has played quad rugby.  After his mother passed away, he was at risk of being placed in a nursing home, but he mustered all his resources and stayed in the community.  Once Jose learned about the mission of Wheels of Progress, he was determined to fight against the institutionalization of young people with physical disabilities by using his extensive Computer Science skills to further develop and manage the Wheels of Progress website.

JOANNE PAGE has for 21 years been at the helm of The Fortune Society, a non-profit organization recognized by researchers and policy makers as a pioneer in assisting former prisoners to reintegrate into society.  With the groundbreaking Fortune Academy, a nationally recognized residence for men and women who have been released from prison into homelessness, JoAnne took an abandoned drug den and eyesore to the community and turned it into a place of hope and understanding.  While this project was initially met with resistance from the community, it has since been embraced; those who were once outside the building waving picket signs are now inside breaking bread with the residents.  A graduate of Yale Law School, JoAnne is a frequent speaker at conferences and a featured interview guest on CNN, Court TV, NBC News, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc.

DR. JOEL STEIN was appointed Physiatrist-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Professor and Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Professor and Chief of the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in September 2008.   Prior to that, Dr. Stein had been a member of the medical staff at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston for 16 years, where he served as Chief Medical Officer from 2000, and was the medical director of the stroke rehabilitation program.  He also served as a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School.   He has authored or coauthored two books on stroke recovery and rehabilitation for stroke survivors and their families, and edited a multi-authored medical textbook on “Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation.”   Dr. Stein expressed interest in Wheels of Progress when he learned of the mission.  He is physician who has compassion as well as extraordinary expertise.

LEANNE SUMMERS, an IBM Global Financing Sales Executive, is involved in many humanitarian efforts.  In 2010, IBM recognized Leanne with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her involvement in hands-on activities for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Appalachia Service Project, etc.  In 2011 and 2012, Leanne participated in relief efforts in Prattsville, NY, the Catskill community that was demolished with floods during Hurricane Irene as a member of United Methodist Core on Relief.  Leanne and her family are also active in Families with Children from China to provide cultural and mentoring activities for children adopted from China who now live in the U.S.  Leanne is passionate about the Wheels of Progress mission because—as her other activities show—she feels everyone is deserving of the basic comforts of home.

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