(click to view each bio)
Bruce E. Wexler, MD
Professor, Yale School of Medicine; Director of Neurocognitive Research Laboratory, Connecticut Mental Health Center
Bruce E. Wexler is a Professor at Yale University. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, studied psychiatry at Anna Freud’s Hampstead Clinic, neurology at Queen’s Square Institute of Neurology, and psychiatry at Yale. Author of over 125 scientific articles, Professor Wexler is a world leader in harnessing neuroplasticity to improve cognition through brain exercises. He and colleagues developed the first program that integrates computerized brain exercises and physical exercises to improve executive function in young children, a program in use by thousands of children in schools across the U.S. Dr. Wexler and colleagues have also developed programs that are effective treatments for ADHD and geriatric depression. Dr. Wexler was a visiting professor at Peking University in 2008, and has given multiple invited lectures throughout China, Korea, Japan and Europe as well as North and South America.
Stephen Shore, EdD
Internationally-recognized Autism Speaker/ Professor Adelphi University, School of Education
Diagnosed with “Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies” and “too sick” for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism. In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. He is a current board member of IBCCES, Autism Society of America, and Autism Speaks.
Eric Haas, MD
Senior Medical Director, Clinical Affairs, Florida Blue
Dr. Haas is Florida Blue’s Senior Medical Director of Clinical Affairs. In this role, Dr. Haas is responsible for strategic and operational effectiveness of the Medicare Advantage membership. He is also is the clinical lead for the new Place of Delivery Model that brings a local care team focus on the highest risk Medicare Advantage, ACA and Fully Insured Commercial membership.
Dr. Haas is a physician leader with over twenty years of clinical, hospital, pharmaceutical and managed care experience. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Haas earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Kent State University and his Medical Doctorate from Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. He then completed his Family Medicine Residency at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, Pennsylvania. Upon completion of training Dr. Haas practiced two years in Washington, D.C. Dr. Haas remains actively Board Certified in Family Medicine since 1988.
After relocating to Florida, Dr. Haas served as managing partner of his six doctor Family Practice group. Once his practice merged into a Physician Hospital Organization, he was elected Chairman of Board of this 150 doctor organization. Post 12 years in clinical practice Dr. Haas transitioned into pharmaceutical research and then managed care.
As the Senior Regional Medical Scientist of Glaxo Dr. Haas was responsible for setup of phase 3 & 4 research studies, development of key thought leaders and interface with manage care on pharmacoeconomics. Next in his career track Dr. Haas took on the role of Network Medical Director and Aetna/Prudential serving a commercial population then onto WellCare Health Plans where he oversaw the Medicare and Medicaid population. In these roles Dr. Haas was responsible for improvement in quality, as well as cost of medical care. He also was instrumental in NCQA and AAAHC accreditations and Aetna and WellCare respectively.
Prior to joining Florida Blue, Dr. Haas served as Vice President of Clinical Affairs of FPG/ Family Physicians Group where he provided Medical Director Leadership to a 90 doctor MSO in Central Florida.
T. Richard Fort, PhD
Dr. Fort began his career in the space shuttle program at Kennedy Space Center where he worked for Martin Marietta, Lockheed and NASA in the areas of organizational development, leadership and total quality management. In 1995, he founded Education Sales Management, which quickly grew into the premier enrollment center for Sylvan Learning Centers, proprietary colleges, and online programs across the country. Recently, he served as President & COO and as Chief Science Officer of CereScan Corp. CereScan is a brain imaging company that specializes in advanced technologies for diagnosing a wide variety of brain dysfunctions. Today, he continues to serve on the CereScan Board of Directors and on the Boards of several other life science companies.
Founder, The Caring Project
Steve Tonkin is President of Steve Tonkin and Company and Managing Partner of Evalq Technologies. He develops person-centered training and software solutions for healthcare systems and disorder-focused agencies, financial services, and general corporate training utilizing his intrinsic motivation model. His work seeks to translate the best available research into practical how-to solutions. As the creator and author of The Caring Project, his team offers training to help medical professionals and other clinical providers determine their unique caring style and how they best connect with their patients. His unique background as a youth worker and corporate financial controller provides the catalyst to seek solutions from different angles. Steve earned a BA in Youth Ministry from Colorado Christian University, a M.Div with emphasis on education from Denver Seminary, and an advanced accounting certificate from the College of DuPage, in Illinois.
Pamela R. Rollins, MS EdD, SLP
Professor & Robotics Researcher, University of Texas at Dallas
Dr. Rollins, Associate Professor, is a faculty member in the Communication Disorders program within the School of Behavior and Brain Sciences at UTD/Callier Center for Communication Disorders. Dr Rollins’ early research focused on the critical evaluation of language measures and the development of new communication tools that could be used with typical children and children with ASD. She uses these tools to define learning and communication processes associated with acquisition of social communication and language. Her current focus is on developing and evaluating interventions for children at risk for and diagnosed with ASD. In addition, she works with a team of autism experts and robotics designers to create Robots4Autism and conducts research to understand the effects of Robots on communication skills in children with ASD.
Benjamin Brown, MD
Neurosurgeon, Mayo Clinic
Dr. Benjamin Brown is a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. He received his medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and has been in practice almost 10 years. Dr. Brown specializes in Neurological Surgery, and has received the Dr. John Jackson Award for best clinical research presentation at the Louisiana State Neurosurgical Society Meeting, and the 2011 TEAM Recognition Award at LSU Hospital, where he was awarded for “commitment to excellence in the care and treatment of our patients.”
Ricardo A. Hanel, MD, PhD
Endovascular Neurosurgeon, Baptist Health System
Ricardo A. Hanel, MD, PhD, neurovascular surgeon with Lyerly Neurosurgery and Baptist Health, is director of Baptist Neurological Institute at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. He is internationally known for his skills in treating brain aneurysms, acute stroke and cerebrovascular conditions with ground breaking, minimally invasive techniques performed from inside the blood vessel. His areas of expertise are endovascular neurosurgery, brain aneurysms, brain & spinal arterial venous malformations, brain & spinal arterial venous fistulas, acute stroke intervention, cerebrovascular disease and skull base neurosurgery. Dr. Hanel obtained his medical degree from Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil and did his fellowships at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
Robert A. Naseef, PhD
Psychologist, Alternative Choices Counseling & Psychotherapy
Robert A. Naseef, Ph.D is seasoned by 25 years of professional practice as an independent psychologist with Alternative Choices in Philadelphia. Dr. Naseef’s specialty is working with families of children with autism and other special needs. He has published in scholarly journals and other publications. He has a special interest and expertise in the psychology of men and fatherhood. Robert relates to community and professional audiences and is a sought after speaker around the country and internationally and who has appeared on radio and television. In 2008, Robert was honored by Variety, the Children’s Charity for his outstanding contributions over the past 20 years to the autism community.
Ron B. Minson, MD
Ron B. Minson, MD received his medical degree from UCLA School of Medicine and is board-certified in Psychiatry and Neurology. His general medical background includes serving as a family physician and health center Medical Director and clinical psychiatrist. Dr. Minson served as Chief of Psychiatry for Presbyterian Medical Center and Director of Behavioral Sciences at Mercy Hospital in Denver.
In 1990, Dr. Minson learned of the effectiveness of sound therapy after witnessing the successful treatment of his own daughter for severe dyslexia and depression. Dr. Minson subsequently studied a number of sound therapy techniques before developing his own, Dynamic Listening Systems (DLS), which he integrated into his psychiatric practice. With the advent of digital technologies, iLs – Integrated Listening Systems was launched in 2007 to provide a more affordable and effective therapy (sound combined with visual, vestibular and movement) which could be used in homes and schools as well as clinics. Dr. Minson currently practices psychiatry in Denver, CO, serves as the Clinical Advisor for iLs, and presents domestically and internationally on the therapeutic application of sound.
Christine Sapienza, PhD
Dean, Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences at Jacksonville University
Since 2014, Dr. Christine Sapienza serves as the Dean of the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences at Jacksonville University. Under her leadership, JU has launched enhanced health sciences program offerings to address emerging market demands, and has raised the standing and reputation of both the University and the BRCHS in the region. Through her vision, the College of Healthcare Sciences has been reorganized into a cohesive brand that includes School of Nursing, the School of Applied Health Sciences and the School of Orthodontics.
Dr. Christine Sapienza serves as the Dean of the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences at Jacksonville University. Through her vision, the College of Healthcare Sciences has been reorganized into a cohesive brand that includes School of Nursing, the School of Applied Health Sciences and the School of Orthodontics.
Amy M. Williams, Ph.D.
Clinic director, Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Metrocare
Amy M. Williams, Ph.D., is the clinic director of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Metrocare. Prior to opening the clinic in 2016, she was a clinical psychologist in independent practice in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area. She received her B.A. in psychology from Texas Tech University with a minor in business management. Dr. Williams received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Texas. She completed her predoctoral internship at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center. While there, she trained at the National Center for PTSD, a Stanford-affiliated unit in the area of serious mental illness, and in the areas of family therapy, substance use, and geriatric psychology. Her postdoctoral training at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with Dr. Patricia Resick, focused on research and treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder with Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Prolonged Exposure. Following her training, she returned to Texas and was employed as a graduate-level instructor at the University of North Texas before starting her private practice in 2006. Dr. Williams has published articles in the area of grief, trauma, and constructivism. Her area of expertise is in anxiety and depression including trauma-related difficulties. Dr. Williams is an approved CPT-Facilitator in the VA Health Care System’s efforts to implement CPT and empirically based treatments. She has served as a primary liaison and consultant in the State of Texas CPT rollout. She has conducted workshops in the area of self-care among mental health providers involved in the provision of trauma-related specialized care. She is currently a member of APA, ISTSS, and volunteers for American Red Cross as a disaster mental health team member.
Eric Sauvageau, MD
Endovascular Neurosurgeon, Baptist Health System
Eric Sauvageau, MD, neurovascular surgeon with Lyerly Neurosurgery and Baptist Health, is director of the Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. Dr. Sauvageau specializes in minimally invasive endovascular and cerebrovascular techniques and skull base neurosurgery for the treatment of stroke, brain aneurysm, cerebrovascular disease, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), arteriovenous fistulas and carotid artery disease. He also has expertise in the treatment of microvascular compression syndrome, including trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm.
Dr. Sauvageau obtained his medical degree from the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada and did his fellowships at the State of New York at Buffalo and the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
Nima Aghaebrahim, MD
Interventional Neurologist, Baptist Health System
Nima Aghaebrahim, MD, interventional neurologist with Lyerly Neurosurgery and Baptist Health, specializes in ground-breaking endovascular therapy that can be performed from inside the blood vessel to treat cerebrovascular disease. His areas of expertise are acute stroke intervention, brain hemorrhages, brain aneurysm, carotid or vertebral artery disease, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and arteriovenous fistulas.
With a medical degree from the University of South Carolina, Dr. Aghaebrahim did fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh and is board certified in board certified in both neurology and vascular neurology.
Jodi Morgan, MA CCC-SLP
Manager, SLP, Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center
Jodi Morgan is a speech-language pathologist and manager of the newly opened Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center. She also serves as Clinical Assistant Professor in Department of Communication Sciences at Jacksonville University. She teaches courses in adult language disorders and cognitive disorders and rehabilitation. Her research interests and publications are in the area of aphasia and cognition-linguistic rehabilitation in adults. Jodi has received multiple ASHA Ace Awards and is an active member of multiple special interests divisions through ASHA. She is a member of JASPA and FLASHA and has recently received JASPAs personal achievement award. She is on the Academic Advisory Team for AphasiaAccess. She presents both nationally and at a state level in the areas of aphasia, supported communication, cognitive disorders and improving functional communication in adults with cognitive disorders. She is very active in the community promoting advocacy for individuals and their families with cognitive-linguistic disorders.
Tracy Packiam Alloway, PhD
Psychology Professor, University of North Florida
Dr. Tracy Alloway is a Psychology professor and internationally recognized Author. She was the recipient of the prestigious Joseph Lister Award (for outstanding skills in communicating to a non-specialist audience) from the British Science Association. Tracy’s research has contributed to scientific understanding of working memory and specifically in relation to education. She has shared her research to national organizations, such as the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and as well as internationally to organizations such as the Japanese Society for Developmental Psychology and the Center on Research on Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk in Germany, among others. She also provided advice to the World Bank on the impact of memory and learning in deprived populations. In addition to over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, 7 books, and 2 standardized test batteries on the topic of working memory, her work has also been featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, and Newsweek, and many others. She blogs for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post.
Psychologist, St. Johns County Schools
As a success coach and nationally certified school psychologist, Brandy Killian believes in helping others to achieve and be at their best. Brandy has served children in special education for over 15 years. As a parent herself to a child with Down syndrome she has developed a passion for understanding this engaging and remarkable population of students.
Dr. Michael Pizzi
Medical Director of Neuroscience ICU, Assistant Professor of Neurology, University of Florida
Dr. Michael Pizzi is currently the medical director of the neuroscience intensive care unit and assistant professor of neurology at the University of Florida in Jacksonville. Dr. Pizzi completed his neurocritical care fellowship at Mayo Clinic, after completing his residency in neurology at the University of Florida in Jacksonville where he also served as chief resident. During medical school Dr. Pizzi was selected for a clinical and research externship at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where his work on nanoparticles to facilitate axonal regeneration won the Sara Baskin award for best research project. Prior to medical school, Dr. Pizzi conducted research on axonal regeneration for his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation. Dr. Pizzi has multiple publications in the fields of neuroscience, neurology and neurocritical care from neurochemistry and molecular biology to societal barriers affecting patients with epilepsy.
Dr. Ann Marie Leonard-Zabel
Full Professor of Psychology, Curry College
Dr. Ann Marie Leonard-Zabel is a Full Professor of Psychology at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. In May 2015, Dr. Leonard-Zabel received two awards from Curry College: “Person of the Year” and “Excellence in Teaching-Research.” In addition, she owns a private international practice specializing in evaluations and consultation for neuro-behavioral learning disabilities, neuro-developmental disorders, emotional-behavioral difficulties, forensic examiner evaluations and substance abuse. For the past 10 years, she has served as a clinical instructor and supervisor for a Post-Graduate/Post-Doctoral Hybrid Model Program for the KidsInc School Neuropsychology Certificate Program. She assists with training professionals in the United States and abroad to be a board certified Diplomate by the American Board of School Neuropsychology. She holds national, international, diplomat and fellow licenses/certifications in the field of School Neuropsychology, School Psychology, Disability Analysis, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Homeland Security, Forensic Counseling, Clinical Counseling, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and Addictions.
Carol S. Weinman, Esq.
Attorney and Legal Consultant
Carol S. Weinman is an independent attorney, autism specialist, author and founder of Autism Advisors and Advocates LLC. A seasoned attorney, practicing over 25 years, Ms. Weinman specializes in criminal law and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She represents the interests of those with ASD who are arrested in the state and federal courts. Ms. Weinman began her legal career as a Philadelphia Prosecutor and in 1998 embarked on a new path after she diagnosed her 3 ½ year old son as autistic. Combining her legal and autism expertise, Ms. Weinman serves as an Autism Legal Consultant for lawyers, psychologists, educators and parents. She conducts trainings and presentations to community, law enforcement, universities, lawyers and professional audiences on Autism and Criminal Law.
Karen Custer, PTA
Founding Director, Stroke Active Recovery Therapy (StART)
Karen Custer, PTA is the Founding Director of StART (Stroke Active Recovery Therapy), an intensive therapeutic and recovery program for stroke and neuro injury survivors. Over the last 5 years, Karen has worked with over 100 survivors of stroke and neurological injuries, helping them to recover their physical and daily activities and to have a fulfilling life. She created a program that integrates intense physical therapy with social and cognitive skills that has enabled survivors to go from wheelchair bound to skiing or driving cars.
International Branding Specialist
Lida Citroën is an international reputation management and brand specialist who designs and enhances the identities of companies and executives globally. After a 20-year career in corporate branding, strategic marketing and international communications, in 2008 Citroën formed LIDA360, a Colorado-based consulting firm, to meet the demand of international professionals seeking to differentiate themselves and their businesses in increasingly competitive and global markets. In 2009, Citroën began leveraging her expertise to help transitioning military service members build their civilian careers. Citroën is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Veteran Serving Organizations (NAVSO), writes for Military.com, collaborates with LinkedIn on veterans’ issues, and volunteers with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR).
Kerry Magro is an award-winning disability advocate, best-selling author, movie consultant, non-profit founder and full-time employee at Autism Speaks. Magro who was completely non-verbal until 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at 4 had to overcome countless challenges. Today Magro travels the country as a national motivational speaker discussing his journey on the autism spectrum. In 2014, based on his speaking efforts he received accreditation from the National Speakers Association as one of the only professionally certified speakers with autism in the country. His career in speaking which has included giving 2 TEDxTalks later led to a stint in television where he hosts his own local cable TV show called the “Different is Beautiful Show” to highlight people who overcome adversity in their local communities.
The Institute For Music and Neurologic Function, Light Elixir, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Moby
Luci Butler is an acclaimed musician that has toured with Moby and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and now conducts music therapy through a private practice following nine years with the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in New York City, where she specialized in treating neurological injuries and illnesses of all kinds including head injury, stroke, aphasia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, autism, developmental delay, palliative care, and more. Her newest project, Light Elixir, is comprised of music therapists who understand music’s timeless power to transcend culture, race, age and status and unite human beings worldwide. Both musicians from a young age, Luci and her partner, Sam Williams, use guitar and piano to create the rock-pop-folk blend. Light Elixir aims to take audiences on a journey of self-discovery and beauty, combining memorable melodies with uplifting lyrics.
“Research has over-and-over demonstrated the importance of cognitive problems in limiting success in school and life. Now new research is establishing increasingly effective methods to help children and adults with cognitive deficits succeed despite the deficits, or even reduce the deficits themselves. This conference brings together many people who are in the forefront of these important efforts.”
-Dr. Bruce Wexler, Senior Research Scientist, Yale School of Medicine; Director of Neurocognitive Research Laboratory, Connecticut Mental Health Center