ABIN folks understand what we're going through in ways even doctors don't. So incredibly valuable especially when doctors in AK won't help us in ways specialists outside say we need help.

Board of Directors

ABIN’s Board of 16 directors represents all regions of Alaska, and at least 50 percent are TBI survivors or family members. The ABIN Board serves as the TBI Advisory Board to the Department of Health and Social Services and serves an adjunct board to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. The ABIN board members are also responsible for non-profit governance related to the Alaska Brain Injury Network.


Dr. Adam Grove, Vice Chair – Anchorage, Alaska

Dr. Grove is a Naturopathic Physician in general family practice where he focuses on children with autism, ADD/ADHD and other developmental disorders as well as adults with brain injury. He is an experienced Craniosacral Therapy practitioner who works on both children and adults. Dr. Adam Grove is also the Director of The Neurocognitive Brain Center which diagnoses and treats brain-based disorders in adults and children. The center’s mission is to provide Alaskan’s with the best options for post-acute traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.He is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.He is a frequent presenter on topics of Autism, Brain Injury, Environmental Medicine and topics in pediatrics. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering (University of Arizona, 1985), a Masters of Arts degree in Soviet Area Studies (Naval Postgraduate School, 1992) and a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine (Bastyr University, 2002).  He operates Head to Toe Hollistic Healthcare here in Anchorage.

Martha Moore, Board Chair – Juneau, Alaska

Martha Moore has been a member of the Alaska Brain Injury Network since its beginning, and originally became involved when she was State Trauma Registry Coordinator and manager of Alaska’sTBI Surveillance Project for the CDC. She brings her expertise and experience in injury surveillance and injury prevention to the board. “I have learned a great deal about TBI through my participation on the board and the TBI trainings and conferences I have attended. But my greatest education has come from those who speak at TBI public testimony, the TBI survivors in the local TBI support group, and from those who contribute to the on-line listserv, Alaskan Brain Matters.” Martha is retired and lives in Juneau and enjoys biking, skiing, swimming, hiking, knitting, and reading.

Elena Rath – Ketchikan, AlaskaSecretary/Treasurer

My sister survived a hit and run incident in 1983 by drunk driver in rural Alaska. While her broken bones were repaired, her brain became changed forever. We knew she was different after the incident, and attributed those changes to adolescence and growing pains. Ten years later, we realized her brain needed rehabilitation. Serving on the Alaska Brain Injury Network allows me to bring my experience having lived in Bethel, Anchorage and now Southeast, as well as having a family member living with traumatic brain injury, towards its goals of developing long term rehabilitation to Alaska, even to rural Alaska. I’ve worked within the human services disability field for over twenty years beginning with children in headstart, adults in independent living and finally coming full circle with elders in adult day.

Kate Burkhart – Juneau, AlaskaKate Burkhart

J. Kate Burkhart is Executive Director of the Alaska Mental Health Board and Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Prior to this, she has served indigent, elderly, and disabled Alaskans as a public interest lawyer with Alaska Legal Services Corporation and an assistant ombudsman with the Alaska State Ombudsman. She is a graduate of Tulane Law School and Ursinus College.

Jos Govaars – Ketchikan, AlaskaJos Govaars

My name is Josephus Govaars, normally called Jos, but more often “Hey you.” I now reside in Ketchikan, Alaska with my wife Riekie. Together we have 5 kids that are spread over two continents. Back in 1986 my car was hit by a truck and at that time I acquired a traumatic brain injury, but I did not know it at the time. Years later, I was properly diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. Not long after, I realized there was little help for TBI victims in Alaska. I was asked to participate in an advisory board for TBI victims and I have been hooked since. Through a cooperative of many people and agencies, progress has been made.

Denise Daniello – Juneau, AlaskaDenise Daniello

Denise Daniello is the Executive Director for the Alaska Commission on Aging, an agency under the Department of Health and Social Services charged with planning, advocacy and public awareness on behalf of older Alaskans. Denise has more than 10 years of experience in senior services. She is the former executive director for the North Star Council on Aging Senior Center in Fairbanks and was the program manager for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geriatric Education Center. Denise holds a M.A. degree in anthropology and B.A. degrees in sociology and anthropology.

Patrick Reinhart – Anchorage, AlaskaPatrick

After working as a commercial fisherman in Kodiak in the 80s while in college, Patrick Reinhart decided to move to Alaska in 1983 and has lived in Anchorage ever since. He joined the Governor’s Council in January, 2009 as the Business Industry Liaison then became the Planner / Director of Public Policy before becoming Executive Director in October 2014. Prior to joining the council, Patrick was the Executive Director of the Alaska Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) for 11 years.  Prior to that he was Executive Director of Challenge Alaska, an organization that provides sports and recreation opportunities for persons with disabilities and is currently serving as Treasurer of the Board of Directors for Challenge Alaska. Patrick has a Bachelor of Science degree in Outdoor Education from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.Originally from Green Bay, he is an avowed “cheesehead” and loves to ski, hike, fish, and golf.

Sue Norton, Member at Large – Kotzebue, AlaskaMember At Large

I was born and raised in Noatak and finished grade school there. I went off to boarding school for high school and graduated in 1972. When I returned after graduating, I started to look at options for getting higher education in order to reach my goals. Growing up, we have had hard times. I was taught to respect your elders and to listen to their advice. After finishing my vocational education, I sought a job in the community I now live in. Most of my jobs were in wellness and safety and followed my cultural subsistence ways of life. In the early 70s, there were no safety regulations for riding on ATVs, and even today people don’t follow or keep safety ordinances. This is causing many accidents for our younger generation. I had a sister who is one of those affected. She had a fatal accident. In telling my story, I got involved in finding help and direction for those with brain injuries.I have five children; three of them I adopted. The youngest is two years old. I love being outdoors subsistence hunting, fishing, berry picking; I love to sew, read, and sing my gospel songs. I enjoy finding ways to a better, safe, healthy lifestyle for my family and teaching young people the important ways of life that are safe and healthy. I enjoy teaching anyone who wants to learn anything I can teach them.

Cindy Shults, Secretary/Treasurer – Barrow, AlaskaCindy Shults

Cindy is a TBI survivor, a mother of a TBI survivor, and has been a board member since April 2009. She also sits on the ICAS Vocational Rehabilitation Advisory Board. She retired with 21 years in the Alaska Air National Guard and is currently employed by the State of Alaska, Department of Labor, Employment Security Division, as the Barrow Job Center Manager. She also works for the City of Barrow as a Recreation and Administrative Specialist. Cindy has 35 years working in an Educational and multi-cultural environment and has coordinated, advised or chaired numerous organizations, projects and clubs, such as; Natural Helpers, Rare-T (Reduce Aids Effectively in Teens), REACH America, Student Assistance Program, S.A.D.D., Mat-Su Safe Home Program, GMS Substance Abuse Aftercare Program and five Summer Computer and Digital Media Camps. In her spare time, Cindy is a Freelance Photographer and owns Windows to the World Photography Studio in Barrow and donates much of her time, energy and Photography to her community and around the state.

Lael Venta – Anchorage, AlaskaLael Venta

Lael Venta is one of the Board’s founding members. He doesn’t like labels and he doesn’t like to talk about himself, so we were all surprised at a meeting at Alyeska when he off-handedly remarked that he had run the power lines to the ski resort and all the lifts. A coincidence? Well, not really. Several decades ago Lael ran power lines virtually all over Alaska, over mountains, through valleys, remote communities and even on the ocean floor. A craving for adventure and hard work lured Lael to some of the most dangerous and physically demanding occupations Alaska has to offer – from fishing to logging to construction to explosives and everything in between. When one day he dropped out of a lift and sustained a head injury, he was just doing his job. Lael misses his ballroom dancing, speed skating, running and skiing, you name it. But one thing that didn’t change in his life was his drive to help others. He used to coach teens in hockey and he was a volunteer for the Sand Lake Fire Department. We’re fortunate that what Lael has chosen to do at this stage in his life is volunteer his time and vast experience to non-profits like People First, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (S.A.B.E.), and ABIN, building bridges for Alaskans who all too often have been left out.

Dallas-Lee Brower, Member at Large – Barrow, Alaska

Dallas-Lee is a long time resident of Barrow where she came to coordinate the Early Intervention and Developmental  Disabilities programs over twenty years ago.  Her tenure with the North Slope Borough Health Department culminated with her having been the Deputy Director for Physical Health.  She then spent nearly a dallas_fulldecade as the Director of the Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program for the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, the regional tribal government.  Prior to moving to Alaska, she was  an Administrative Director for the Children’s Aid Society, serving 100K children, where she focused on Head Start Programs in New York City.  Dallas-Lee’s sister, the noted Jazz Singer, Baby Jane Dexter had a concussion from a motorcycle accident decades ago, and has had to work through subsequent barriers caused by the accident at a time when little was known about TBIs. Though Dallas-Lee’s degrees are in education with a certification as a superintendent of schools, she has historically been an advocate for those with disabilities and TBI’s.

Dr. Amy Murphy – Anchorage, Alaska

Dr. Murphy is skilled in caring for patients with traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries, concussAmy Murphyions and patients in need of cognitive rehabilitation and specialized medical care. Dr. Murphy was born in Latrobe, Pa., and earned her doctorate in osteopathic medicine at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Va. She completed her residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation as well as a fellowship in brain injury medicine at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital/Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. She recently co-wrote a chapter for a new e-book detailing practice guidelines for brain injury medicine for physicians in the U.S. and Europe and is currently on an expert panel for the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, helping to establish a toolbox and guidelines for non-traumatic concussion management. “Having a very close personal friend who sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, I was inspired to help brain injury survivors,” sais Dr. Murphy. “Being a part of a new service at Providence while providing compassionate care to people after a brain injury is a wonderful opportunity to serve Alaskans.”

Korine Stellmach – Anchorage,Alaska

Korine Stellmach was born and raised in Minnesota. Seven years ago, as empty nesters, she and her husband, Jason, moved to Alaska. Korine loves the life the good Lord has gifted them here. They enjoy archery, hiking, fishing the Kenai and taking in the breathtaking scenery that only Alaska can offer.   She was born with a Korinesignificant congenital Chiari Malformation and Cervical Stenosis, both of which went undiagnosed until the age of 40. Korine promptly had decompression surgery. Most recently she has discovered that she has an Acquired Brain Injury, stemming from her life long brain compression. And in the face of a possible Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) from the surgery itself, she continually strives to live a fun and full life.   Since her diagnosis, surgery and subsequent move to Alaska, she has successfully navigated the health care system and after not working for many years, she has rejoined the workforce, putting to good use her twenty plus years of accounting experience.

 


Ex-Officio Mark Regan – Representing the Disability Law Center of Alaska

Mark Regan is the Legal Director at the Disability Law Center.  He grew up in Juneau, Anchorage, and California, and graduated from Service High School in 1976. He returned to Alaska after law school to work for Alaska Legal Services in Barrow, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, and Bethel.  Mark started work for Disability Law Center in October 2008.  He specializes in Medicaid issues and in Social Security litigation, including administrative hearings.

Ex-Officio Jetta Whittaker – Representing the Division of Senior and Disabilities ServicesJetta

The oboe may seem like an unlikely stepping stone to social service policy work, but it was the start of Jetta Whittaker’s career in the field. The music major got an MBA in public management, picturing a life as a state or city arts administrator. Instead, a stint in former Alaska Gov. Steve Cowper’s campaign led to a gig with the Office of Management and Budget, where she tracked social services legislation for the Division of Policy. From there, Whittaker was recruited to help research and develop the state’s home- and community-based Medicaid waiver program in the early 1990s.  Seeking a more flexible schedule while she raised her two children, she next worked in southeast Alaska’s nonprofit world, including six years as Southeast Senior Services’ regional coordinator, where she got to experience life on the provider side of the waivers.  Whittaker will now lead the team looking to bring new options created by the Affordable Care Act to Alaska: State Plan Home and Community-Based Services 1915 (i) and Community First Choice 1915 (k) waivers. (Alaska’s current Medicaid waivers are all under the Home and Community-Based 1915 (c) option.) The (i) and (k) waivers have the potential to fill a gap in Alaska’s service spectrum, supporting people with Alzheimer’s and traumatic brain injury, for example, who have more assisted-living than nursing-home level-of-care needs. Fortunately she’s comfortable with her policy team in Juneau and SDS subject matter experts in Anchorage, calling them solid professionals. “There’s a highly skilled workforce in both places,” Whittaker said. “I think the department’s lucky to have such a great staff within SDS.”  Whittaker said she doesn’t foresee much time for fun outside of work, but will continue to play oboe in the Juneau Symphony and serve on the boards for the symphony and a local birth center.

Ex-Officio Heidi Frost – Representing Statewide Independent Living Council

Heidi James Frost is a lifelong Alaskan who returned home after serving in the USAF for over 10 years. She has worked in the disability community for the past 13 years as a Business Liaison, Youth with Disabilities Program Coordinator, on Workforce Development issues, and on the program to help youth with intellectual or developmental disabilities go to college.  She is now staff to the Statewide Independent Living Council.  After returning home as a veteran and starting to work within the disability community, Heidi was crashed into by a drunk driver, resulting in a head injury.  Heidi has a loving husband (over 28 years together), two grown sons (James and Christopher), a few furry family members as well.

Ex-Officio George Girod – Representing the Division of Behavioral Health

George Girod, Master of Social Work, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Certified Chemical Dependency Clinical Supervisor. Mr. Girod has been employed in direct service in both the for-profit and non-profit arenas as a drug counselor, mental health therapist, and co-occurring services specialist. He has also been a clinical supervisor and has designed and operated programs serving persons having complex behavioral disorders. He has been a volunteer field instructor for human services students at UAA and has provided supervision for persons seeking independent clinical licensure in social work or counseling. He is currently employed as a Mental Health Clinician III in the State of Alaska Division of Behavioral Health where he does grants management and provides both individual and programmatic technical assistance to grantee agencies seeking to maintain persons having complex disorders in their communities.

Ex-Officio Natasha Pineda  – Representing the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority


 

Emeritus Board Member – Dr. Roland Torres – Anchorage, AlaskaTorres

Dr. Roland Torres is an accomplished neurosurgeon with years of experience. Prior to coming to ourbeautiful State of Alaska, Dr. Torres was the Chief of Neurosurgery at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a Level I Trauma Center, and  major teaching affiliate of Stanford University Medical School.  He  was also Clinical Associate Professor at Stanford University. Dr. Torres is a nationally recognized Neurotrauma and Neurocritical care expert. He received specialized training in head injury and completed a fellowship in complex spine surgery.
He is actively engaged in both the American Association of Neurosurgery (AANS) as well as the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) and the AANS/CNS Executive Committee on Neurotrauma and Critical Care, often invited to moderate scientific symposia. Dr. Torres has taught and continues to be certified in Advanced Trauma Life Support. He is also an invited guest speaker for the AANS Board Review courses where he teaches Neurotrauma and Neurocritical care. Dr. Torres has participated as a co-investigator with the National Institute of Health (NIH) in a multicentered Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trial (NETT) to research improvement in Neurocritical care to help each patient have the best outcome possible and avoid secondary brain injury.

Emeritus Board Member – Senator Lesil McGuire – Anchorage, AlaskaSenator Lesil McGuire

Lesil McGuire is a State Senator who represents Southwest Anchorage. She has served in the Alaska State Legislature since 2000 and she has been a member of the Alaska Brain Injury Board since 2006. She has worked diligently in helping brain injury survivors and their families as well as bringing attention to the importance of prevention to the public. In 2009, she introduced a resolution that names March as Brain Injury Awareness Month. And in 2010, she worked with ABIN to successfully pass SB 219 which establishes a traumatic or acquired brain injury program and registry in the Department of Health and Social Services. Most recently, Senator McGuire worked on legislation (HB 15) that relates to the prevention and evaluation of concussions in student athletes. She is a graduate of Willamette University.


In Remembrance of Eileen Kotyk – Juneau, AK Eileen Kotyk

The Alaska Brain Injury Network (ABIN) family would like to take a moment to remember and celebrate the life of Eileen Kotyk, who passed away in November. One of our long-term Advisory Board Members, Eileen became an advocate for TBI prevention after her daughter was involved in a car accident in 2000. She was actively involved with ABIN’s efforts to promote awareness, education and improved services for every Alaskan affected by traumatic brain injury.

Eileen’s contributions and caring spirit will be missed by all.  We wish her family the very best and thank Eileen for her passion and commitment to the Alaska Brain Injury Network.


 
 
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