2022 National Rehabilitation Association – Elections!!!
The National Rehabilitation Association is embarking on our Centennial Year of Celebration in 2023! These are the candidates for office vacancies who will lead us into our 100th year as the most established rehabilitation association for professionals! The Nominations Committee is pleased to present each of these candidates who have submitted their credentials and are qualified to hold the position for which they are a candidate.
The Nominations Committee thanks each candidate for their willingness to lead in our organization and thanks each of you for your membership in the National Rehabilitation Association
Candidate Bio's with Ballot at Bottom of page
Russell Thelin, M.S., LVRC, CRC, CRL
For consideration toward candidacy for NRA President-Elect
As a 32-year Rehabilitation professional, I have worked in several capacities including, but not limited to Rehabilitation Counselor, Supervisor, District & Regional Manager, Agency Coordinator, General VR Division Director, and Executive Director of the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation. For the past seven years I have been a Senior Research and Policy Fellow for the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston as a research and subject matter expert for rehabilitation and related agencies across the country on the topics of VR, IDD, SSA, corrections, mental health, the workforce innovation system, business relations/engagement, and organizational transformational leadership. I co-developed and authored the Transformational Rehabilitation Leadership Training (TRLT) program, its associated curriculum, and industry recognized Certified Rehabilitation Leader (CRL) credential in partnership with CRCC and the University of Wisconsin-Stout. I am a nationally Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), Licensed Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (LVRC), and Certified Rehabilitation Leader (CRL) with a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and bachelor’s degree in sociology. I am an NRA member and am a past-president of the National Association of Rehabilitation Leaders (NARL).
As President Elect my goals would be to:
• Establishing and operationalizing relevant purpose, vision, and values statements for NRA for the current time; for a clear internal identity that encourages committed and active members, advances membership, and reinforces identity as rehabilitation professionals.
• Continue the stabilizing fiscal and organizational efforts of past and current leadership and launch strategic plans to grow NRA, Divisional, and state chapter membership and engagement.
• Make connections with other professional organizations to establish common strategies and innovations to unify the profession and give voice to rehabilitation professionals to influence public policy regarding our field.
For consideration towards candidacy for NRA Secretary
I am Amanda Adams Gann and I am running for National Rehabilitation Association Secretary. I have a Bachelors in Psychology from The University of Southern Mississippi. I have been a member of the National Rehabilitation Association since 2009. I have been employed by the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services since 2008. In my time with MDRS, I have been an Independent Living counselor across most of our state covering a wide range of demographics and seeing first-hand the issues that confront them. From 2014 to present, I have been an Internal Auditor, working to improve our service provision. I have also assisted in the review and approval for grant proposals for the TBI/SCI Trust Fund in our state. In this time, I have served as a board member and conference registration chair for the Mississippi chapter of NRA (Rehabilitation Association of Mississippi) and I am currently the Treasurer. I have served on the advisory council of a local non-profit, LIFE of Mississippi. I am also a member of our agency’s ABLE task force to spread the word about the ABLE Act around our state. I would love the opportunity to utilize my knowledge and skills on a national level.
Dr. Shengli Dong
Candidate for Board Member at Large
Dr. Shengli Dong is an Associate Professor of Psychological and Counseling Services at Florida State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Counselor Education (focus on Rehabilitation Counseling) from University of Maryland College Park. His current research focuses on workplace and academic accommodations, transition issues to work and postsecondary education for youth with disabilities, mindfulness in counseling, multicultural counseling, and social justice issues. Dr. Dong has published around 50 papers in various professional outlets such as Journal of Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation Psychology, Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, Career Transition and Development for Exceptional Individuals, Journal of College Student Development, and Mindfulness. In addition, he has conducted more than 60 professional presentations at international, national, state, and local levels. He has been recently awarded a NIH federal grant to foster wellbeing and prevent depression for immigrant youth through using mobile health application. Dr. Dong serves as editorial board members for several flagship journals in his research areas such as Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, Journal of Rehabilitation, and the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation. Furthermore, he serves on the Council on Diversity and Equity and Research Committee for the National Council of Rehabilitation Education. Dr. Dong is the recipient of the Sylvia Walker National Multicultural Award of 2020 from the National Rehabilitation Association.
Lauren M. Jones M.S., CRC
Candidate for Board Member at Large
Lauren M. Jones received her Master of Science with a focus in Rehabilitation Counseling from Troy University. Shortly after becoming employed in state vocational rehabilitation, she obtained her CRC certification. As a counselor, she worked in transition and served students with disabilities. Lauren has several years working in both public and private sectors in relation to rehabilitation services. Lauren currently serves as a Transition Supervisor with Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. Lauren is dedicated to working with individuals with disabilities and helping them ensure that they can successfully obtain and maintain employment. Lauren also enjoys developing new professionals in the field of vocational rehabilitation and counseling which is perfect for her in her current position. Lauren also recognizes the importance of building relationship with outside agencies and service providers in order to be most effective when working with clients. Lauren Jones has made multiple presentations, through employment and at conferences, concerning issues related to the field. Lauren recently passed the National Counselor Examination and will be obtaining her LPC to continue serving her community in multiple capacities. Lauren is optimistic, compassionate, hardworking, and a team player. Please vote for Lauren M. Jones for Board Member at Large as she understands how imperative it is to have a voice for the voiceless in order to implement positive changes that best serve our clients and ultimately our communities.
Karma Marshall, MRC, CRC
Candidate for Board Member at Large
I consider it a great privilege to be nominated to serve as Board Member at Large for NRA. In 2010, one could say I encountered a crisis of identity, and I made a commitment to begin to live a life more congruent with my values. I attended the University of South Carolina’s Master of Rehabilitation Counseling program and earned my MRC. I found my calling. I have a passion for Vocational Rehabilitation and the intrinsic value of work. I’m committed to advocacy and communities of diversity and inclusiveness. I am committed to the field of Rehabilitation Counseling.
I began my rehab career working for Goodwill Industries of South Carolina. I then worked at South Carolina’s general VR agency as a counselor for the deaf/Deaf. Finally, I landed at The South Carolina Commission for the Blind. At SCCB I have had the opportunity to advance from a Transition Counselor to a Regional Director to my current position of Consumer Services Director. While my heart is with the consumer, my strengths as a leader allow me to mentor and develop rehabilitation counselors; thus, expanding my impact.
My credentials include; Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Vison Specialist in Vocational Rehabilitation. During my time at SCCB, I’ve worked to develop stronger partnerships with WIOA partners, facilitated an innovative summer program for teens, and implemented a Staff Advisory Council consisting of staff members with visual disabilities.
While new to NRA, I am eager to be at the table to further the work of the Association. I hope to expand membership and involvement in South Carolina. I am committed to preserving the value and integrity of this profession and if elected to serve I would be honored to do so along side so many esteemed colleagues. Thank you for you consideration.
Ralph Roach M.S., CRC, L.P.C.
Candidate for Board Member at Large
Ralph has been currently functioning as the 2022 past-President of the National Rehabilitation Association, Mid-Atlantic Region (MAR). He served as President and board member from 2017 to present. He was a board member and past President of the Pennsylvania Rehab Association (PRA) in 2018. In these capacities he has prepared materials for other state chapters (Delaware DRA Jan 2022) to increase their recruitment and state chapter member and student retention success, assisted in developing and improving the PRA annual Professional Development Institute, including the addition of an annual Dr. Ralph Pacinelli Policy Forum. He has served in Pennsylvania VR as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Business Services Specialist, Division Chief, Policy Chief, Central Operations Manager, Acting Central Operation Director and as the current Special Projects Manager for the agency. Ralph has 35 years of community-based human services experience, and he has expertise in Student Assistance Work in elementary and secondary public schools: as a Behavioral Specialist and Outpatient Therapist; and with Community Rehabilitation Programs with employer outreach and job coaching. Ralph is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), and PA Licensed Professional Counselor (PA-LPC), who earned a Master of Science Degree (M.S.) in Psychology from Shippensburg University (1985), and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)from Messiah College (1982). He is a current member of the National Rehabilitation Association; past member in the National Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM); and a past member of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM). He has been trained as an emergency responder through the Notional Office of Victim Assistance (NOVA) and in critical incident stress debriefing.
Recently, Ralph has been working on several key initiatives for PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), including acting as the liaison for the Agencies services to veterans and other state agencies with Vet programs, initiatives with the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Conservation Corps internships for students with disabilities (SwD), OVR Complaints and Appeals Officer, OVR Customer Satisfaction Survey coordinator, liaison to the PA Dept. of Human Services Disability Integration Task Force (DITF) that addresses the needs of people with disabilities (PwD) during a natural disaster or PEMA event, Continuity of Operations Planner (COOP), and had past leadership roles with the implementation of PA Employment First law (Act 36), Job Retention policy during the pandemic, as well as, acting as a consultant with PA partners in the Bureau of Workforce Development, Council of State Administrators (CSAVR) national employment team (NET)and collaborating with local and national businesses on a variety of important hiring initiatives for SwD, and PwD.
Ralph is also a passionate fisherman, outdoorsman, husband, and father of two. All this makes him uniquely qualified to serve NRA in the capacity of Board Member at- Large.
Dr. Barbara Schoen
Candidate for Board Member at Large
Barbara Schoen is an Associate Professor at the College of Counseling and Rehabilitative Sciences at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Schoen has a commitment to serving marginalized populations for well over thirty years. In 1997, she was in a motor vehicle accident and acquired a high-level spinal cord injury and an enhanced desire to address the complex needs of individuals with disabilities. She obtained her masters in Rehabilitation in 2003 and her doctorate in Rehabilitation Counselor Education from Michigan State University in 2010. Between degrees she completed an advanced internship at the University of Michigan Model Spinal Cord Injury Care System leading a Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation funded project to disseminate resources to rural consumers with SCI. Because of her service, the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) presented her the 2009 Earl Walden Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Advocacy. Dr. Schoen’s history of service includes university and community-based organizations. She currently serves as a co-chair for the National Rehabilitation Association Public Policy committee and has held numerous other offices. While at The University of Texas at El Paso (2010-2017) Dr. Schoen was the Principal Investigator of projects funded through The National Institute of Health, National Library of Medicine and Department of Education totaling over $1,000,000. In 2018, The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities funded her to identify strengths and challenges encountered by Rio Grande Valley individuals with developmental disabilities. Dr. Schoen has taught over 20 courses including, Cognitive, Behavioral and Psychological Aspects of Disability, Career Development, Ethics and Grant Writing. She has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and presented at local, state, and national conferences. She looks forward to addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities and the field of rehabilitation as a Board Member at Large for the National Rehabilitation Association.
Candidate for Student Rep
Regan Browne is in her third semester of the Rehabilitation Counseling program at the University of North Texas. She aspires to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC). She has worked for five years at Solutions of North Texas, which is a non-profit substance use treatment center. She has been sober for six years and continues to support others through their sobriety journeys. Regan’s passion for rehabilitation counseling and advocacy work stems from growing up with a family member who has a disability. She was recently hired as a research assistant for The University of North Texas (UNT), where she will research women of color with a mental illness who have faced police brutality. Regan is also on the board for the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP) as a student representative.
Professionally and academically, my qualifications in the field of rehabilitation started as a consumer/client of the Arkansas Rehabilitation services as a Master of Rehabilitation Counseling student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, in May 2020. This program was the first time I realized that just because I was disabled, it did not mean that I had to live handicapped. My psychosocial education I have attained so far has helped me become the Rehabilitation Counseling Student I am today. My five core values, I learned from the first Virtual ARA Fall Conference in 2020, are competence, creativity, challenge, change, and education are literally what have kept me alive since I started this incredible journey. This journey started at the State level where I have been on the Outreach Committee and Student Committee as a student member representative and prepared a presentation over Co-Occurring Disorders. This is the area of Rehabilitation I want to continue my education and become a future leader in. I have been involved with the NRA national level by serving as a student member to both the NRA Social Media Committee and the Policy and Legislative Committee, where I can advocate for students and disabled individuals, like myself, but have learned real life skills from some of the greatest minds and leaders of this field.
I was also a student member in several Divisions such as the NARL, and plan to one day be published in their journal. My journey started as a disabled student that felt handicap and never imagined, I would make it this far, but I have learned a lot about hard work, persistence, being resilient in times of great adversity, and the how to rise to each challenge I meet with competence, creativity, education, and change that consistently shows growth.
Cast your Ballot Here