BIAPA Honors Nine at the 2022 Conference

One highlight of the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania’s annual conference is the presentation of awards that recognize the achievements and contributions made by individuals, institutions and families to Pennsylvania’s brain injury community.  Nine recipients were honored at the 2022 Conference, which was held in June in Lancaster.  Since the 2021 Conference was cancelled due to Covid-19, some 2021 Awards recipients were recognized at this year’s event.

The honorees were Amanda Burgy Allemang, Paul Brooks, Jack Cavanaugh, Madeline DePasquale, Eileen Fitzpatrick-DeSalme, Allyson Diane Hamm, Kara Latshaw, Cheryl McCutcheon, and the Steinberg Family.

Amanda Burgy Allemang received the 2022 Service to the Association Award, which recognizes a person who has, through volunteerism, fundraising, and other efforts, supported the mission and vision of BIAPA and contributed to the ongoing success of the Association. Amanda has been a Brain Injury Resource Line volunteer for seven years, as well as a volunteer Brain Injury Ambassador serving three facilities in the Pittsburgh area.  Additionally, she is a member of the BIAPA Fundraising Committee and supports brain-injury related events in the community. Amanda also created and facilitates the “Lost and Found” support group in Pittsburgh, which she describes as “support for the warriors of brain injury and the caregivers who love them.”

Paul Brooks received the Leadership Award, which is presented to an individual, agency, or group of individuals whose far-reaching impact on the field of brain injury rehabilitation has been widely recognized. The recipient is willing to “go the extra mile” in promoting the cause and goal of improving each and every life.Paul Brooks is the founder and CEO of Progressive Health of Pennsylvania. He has been involved in the development and advancement of brain injury programs since the early 1980’s. He was responsible for establishing one of the Commonwealth’s first comprehensive post-acute trauma facilities, Head Injury Recovery Center at Hillcrest. He also developed a unique vocational program – Head Injury Technical School – which involved training and educational pursuits for individuals with ABI.  In 1994 he established Progressive Health of Pennsylvania, which is dedicated to a “community based” rehabilitation model.

Jack Cavanaugh received the John Sears Inspiration Award, named for the late artist and teacher John Sears, who, despite the challenges of a traumatic brain injury received in a bicycling accident, continued to make art and teach. Jack Cavanaugh suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury in September 2013, when he fell from a 12-foot balcony.  He was discharged from Moss Rehab the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in a wheelchair. The next three years, he was in outpatient at both Moss Rehab and Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital. He set many goals for himself: to be able to walk again, run in a race, learn to drive again and return to college. He not only learned to walk again; he ran in his first SK to raise funds for Moss Rehab. He graduated from West Chester University with a B.S. in Business Management cum laude in December 2019. He has volunteered at Moss Rehab and Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital, where he has mentored patients on the neuro-rehabilitation unit and educated families about neurological disabilities. Jack is currently an active member of the Pennsylvania Center for Adaptive Sports, participating in rowing, indoor and outdoor rock climbing.

Madeline (Maddie) DiPasquale received the Dan Keating Pioneer in Brain Injury Award, which is named for former BIAPA Board President Dr. Dan Keating and honors an individual whose initiative, expertise, and creativity have led to the development of services and supports in the field of brain injury rehabilitation. Dr. DiPasquale received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology from Drexel University in Philadelphia. She has been involved in several significant research projects at Drucker Brain Injury Center of MossRehab Hospital that have addressed such topics as strategies for cognitive intervention, assessment of minimally responsive patients, use of computer technology to improve performance of activities of daily living, transdisciplinary treatment planning, and multi-center clinical trials to advance treatment for persons with prolonged unconsciousness. At the Drucker Brain Injury Center, Dr. Pasquale has served as a clinical neuropsychologist, providing individual therapy and family education and developing assessment techniques for use with patients with severe disorders of consciousness as well as those with varying functional disabilities. She is currently the Clinical Neuropsychology Supervisor of Drucker Brain Injury Center’s Ambulatory Programs, and she been responsible for performing neuropsychological evaluations for persons with acquired brain injuries and substance misuse and/or psychiatric issues, as well as incarcerated individuals or other marginalized or underserved persons.

Eileen Fitzpatrick-DeSalme received the 2022 Service to the Brain Injury Community award, which recognizes an individual who has shown extraordinary and exemplary service in educating and raising social awareness of the needs of persons with brain injury and their families. Dr. Fitzpatrick-DeSalme is a clinical neuropsychologist who has spent over 30 years devoted to the clinical care of people with brain injuries at MossRehab’s Drucker Brain Injury Center. Much of this time has been spent in the acute inpatient rehabilitation setting, helping patients and their families in the recovery from often very severe brain injuries. As a clinician, she has not only provided excellent care, but she has also been instrumental in the development of the Responsiveness Program at MossRehab. This program has pioneered the care of patients with disorders of consciousness in Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world. In addition to her truly outstanding clinical care, she has also played a major role in the training of clinicians and students in understanding the complex needs of persons with brain injuries. Dr. Fitzpatrick-DeSalme’s role as a clinician­educator and as a mentor has influenced the work of hundreds of clinicians, researchers, persons with brain injury and their families. She has been recognized for her scholarship, inquisitive nature, humor, persistence, and commitment to serving persons with brain injury, their families, and her colleagues.

Allyson Diane Hamm received the Direct Service Award, which honors a front-line staff member who provides exemplary service to individuals with brain injury. It recognizes the “unsung hero” who has worked for five years or more in the field of brain injury rehabilitation and has shown dedication and commitment to the individuals they serve.  Since she joined the staff at Success Rehabilitation, Inc. (SRI) in 2014, Allyson has placed great effort to learn and grow both personally and professionally within the TBI community. At SRI she is a Direct Support Professional Staff/Residential Program Coordinator and is responsible for supervising a home in the community and oversees the individual programs of 3 residents who reside within this home. She is actively involved in three committees at SRI: Mentor Committee, B Corp Environmental/Community Committee, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.  As a committee member, she works with team members on improving the company’s onboarding and engagement efforts to train and retain new direct-care support professionals joining the SRI team. She also plays an instrumental role in working with the team to implement new policies and procedures at SRI that create a judgment-free space for employees to come together and discuss equity, diversity and inclusion topics. She is respected by her peers for her years of service, advocacy efforts, and the energy/efforts she places in her role at Success Rehabilitation Inc.

Kara Latshaw was recognized with the 2021 Service to the Association Award. BIAPA’s administrator until her death in 2020, Kara was known for her enthusiasm and support for individuals with brain injury and their families. She consistently went far beyond her official role to guide BIAPA and its members.  No task was beyond Kara’s ability or deep commitment to support our mission and vision.  She creatively problem-solved issues; she worked collaboratively with staff, survivors, and their families; and she displayed organizational skills that allowed BIAPA to grow in securing grants and contracts to develop programs. Many will remember Kara for her strong advocacy efforts in planning our annual conference and assuring that survivors and their families were able to attend through scholarship support.  She also collaborated with the PA Department of Health and BIAPA staff to support several community programs in their pursuit of projects to provide services to the brain injury community.

Cheryl McCutcheon received the 2022 Service to the Brain Injury Community Award.  Following an automobile crash in 2017, Cheryl battled her persistent post concussive symptoms (PPCS) for several years. Aware of the challenges faced by others dealing with PPCS, Cheryl has established the Westmorland County Concussion Awareness Group (WCCCAG), to raise awareness, improve understanding, and subsequently enhance the well-being of those affected with PPCS.  She has created a resource book and led a sold-out Golf Outing at Arnold Palmer’s Latrobe Country Club. She has arranged a community education event featuring Tammy and Preston Plevrets for Brain Injury Awareness Month. With funds raised through her efforts, Excela Health offers an exercise class that is free for the PPCS community and an enhanced support group.  Cheryl has an aggressive schedule for WCCAG in the coming year, with the ultimate goal of raising awareness, increasing knowledge, and bringing resources to the area to better the lives of those affected, and prevent as many new injuries as possible.

The Steinberg Family received the Dennis Minori Family Tribute Award.  Named in honor of former BIAPA President Dennis Minori, this award is presented to a family with a member with a brain injury and who stands together in the face of hardship, works together to support each other, and strives to improve the quality of life for the person with brain injury.  Andy Steinberg sustained two brain injuries while in his 20s. His parents Joan and Mark have advocated tirelessly for Andy to receive the care that he needs and to be sure that he had every opportunity to learn, grow and participate in his community. Mark sold his dental practice so that he could be home with Andy. Joan worked part-time at her local community center and devotes much of her time to caring for Andy as well.  Whether it meant finding appropriate services for Andy, exploring treatments, care options, or activities to enrich Andy’s life, they are continuously advocating for their son. Throughout this journey, Joan became actively involved in the Brain Injury Community.  She served on the Board of the Acquired Brain Injury Network of Pennsylvania and volunteered by taking calls that came into that organization.  She also leads the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community Fundraising event in the Leigh Valley for BIAPA.  Currently, she serves as a volunteer ambassador for the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Ambassador Program, a collaboration between BIAPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  She is also working for BIAPA as a Research Coordinator for the STATBI project, a research project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University, to study the effectiveness of the BrainSTEPS School Re-entry Program.