Board of Directors

Our Board members share our passion for engaging with and advocating for the SCI community.


Dallas Disbro, Fundraising Committee Chair

Dallas Disbro has been a board member for the Metro DC Chapter of United Spinal since April 2017, and he currently serves as the Fundraising Committee Chair. Dallas sustained a spinal cord injury in May 2016 when he broke his neck in a diving accident, and he still receives ongoing outpatient therapy at MedStar NRH.

Dallas currently works as a Financial Advisor for Merrill Lynch/Edge at a Bank of America branch in downtown Washington, D.C. He is 28 years old and has lived in the D.C. area for the past 6 years. Prior to moving to D.C., Dallas graduated from the Virginia Military Institute where he was recruited to play soccer. During his cadetship, he transitioned to becoming a springboard diver with the men’s swim team.

Jessica Loeser, Secretary

Jessica Loeser has been working as an inpatient occupational therapist at MedStar NRH since March 2016. She began working with the SCI team that summer and greatly enjoys empowering others to live independent and meaningful lives post-injury. She is certified in PAMPCA to assist regaining strength and range of motion through the use of modalities and has taken courses related to functional mobility, manual therapy, and pain management to ensure quality care for her patients. She also participates in therapy groups at NRH, including teaching upper extremity and wheelchair skills to assist patients in gaining new abilities and adaptations for greater independence.

Recently, she implemented a weekly SCI support group for inpatient rehab due to the high need to address the mental health concerns of her patients. Some topics have included grief and loss, stress management, advocacy, and sleep hygiene and sessions are often run with a psychologist and SCI peer mentor for additional support. Mental health and advocacy have always been high interests of hers, and outside of work she volunteers as a Sexual Assault Response Advocate in VA to support those who survive sexual assault. She has found her home living in the DC region and is now interested in being more involved with United Spinal Association to better serve her community.

Jessica holds a BS in Health Behavior Science from the University of Delaware and Masters of Occupational Therapy from Nova Southeastern University.

Kent Keyser, Public Policy Fellow

Prior to coming to the United Spinal Association, Kent had a 37-year career working for a member of Congress doing everything from a summer internship to serving as Chief of Staff. Kent came away with a strong commitment to constituents that he has put to work advocating for United Spinal’s legislative agenda. In 2007, Kent sustained a level C-3, C-4 spinal cord injury from a fall in his home.

Shannon Minnick

At 21, Shannon Minnick was in a car accident that changed her life. Twenty-seven years later, her mission is to help others who feel like they can’t achieve a fulfilling and active life with a disability. As Ms. Wheelchair 2010 and her work as the Assistant Coordinator of the Ms. Wheelchair Maryland organization, she co-founded the Women on Wheels Support Group to empower women with disabilities. Shannon believes that increasing the awareness and use of health and social services can improve the level of community participation, integration and quality of life.

Shannon currently works as the Youth Programs Coordinator at Independence Now and serves on the boards of the Governor’s Interagency Transition Council for Youth with Disabilities (Maryland), the Spinal Cord Injury Consortium, MontCo Accessible Cabs, and Getting around the County.

William Peterson

As the Executive Director of the Office of Accessible Systems and Technology (OAST), William Paterson is responsible for improving the usability and accessibility of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) electronic and information technologies.

Prior to joining DHS, William spent more than eight years at the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), in the Department of Education, where he served as one of NIDRR’s principle scientific program managers in the areas of biomedical and rehabilitation engineering. William is also the founding co-Chair of the Interagency Committee on Disability Research, Subcommittee on Technology, where he served from 1996 to 2005, and was the Department of Education’s liaison to the U.S. Access Board from 1997 to 2005.

William holds an undergraduate and graduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Arizona State University.

Elizabeth Kumar

Elizabeth Kumar is the Communications Manager at the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia where she does website development, publications, event planning, fundraising and development. She also mentors others with disabilities. As a community resource and advocacy center run by and for persons with disabilities, ECNV’s mission is to END dependence by empowering people with disabilities to live independently. Elizabeth graduated from UMBC Baltimore County in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a certificate in Elementary Education. She was a classroom teacher for Howard County Public Schools until 2004.  

Elizabeth started her master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Business and Education and finished her degree at Walden University in 2008 after an illness that left her a paraplegic. Elizabeth continued her career as a teacher at Kingsbury Day School for students with learning disabilities. In 2016, Elizabeth got a chance to explore a career in acting by doing several commercials for the Department of Labor, Homeland Security and the Discovery Channel. This gave her a chance to speak about disability rights and issues and the importance of seeing people beyond their disability. After getting the opportunity to teach older adults with disabilities at Kingsbury Day School, she realized she needed to do more and decided to work at ECNV to mentor others to help them reach their goals of independence.

Whitney Chou Ong

Whitney Chou Ong has been working as an Inpatient Occupational Therapist at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital since April 2017. with prior experience in skilled nursing, home health, and community level therapy services. She is actively involved in MNRH’s spinal cord injury, pediatric, and burn management programs. She has professional interests in environmental design and holds an Executive Certificate in Home Modifications through the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, which she has been able to utilize towards improving accessibility with multiple MNRH hospital renovation projects.

Whitney holds a BS and MA in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California. She has additional certifications in lymphedema management, LSVT BIG, physical agent modalities.

Stephanie Hernandez

Stephanie Hernandez has been an occupational therapist for over 5 years. She has worked at MedStar NRH for 3 years and has worked on the SCI team from the start. She recently received a certification in assistive technology and is now a certified assistive technology professional (ATP). She has presented poster and short course presentations at various professional conferences on topics related to smart home technology, phone, computer, and tablet access. She is also one the SCI mentors for the American Occupational Therapy Association Neurological Fellowship program and has mentored two fellows. Stephanie holds a BS in Health Science and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from the University of Florida.

Lindsey Yingling

Lindsey Yingling, PT, DPT, NCS is employed at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital as a Physical Therapist Clinical Specialist. She is a certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist with a passion for the treatment of spinal cord injury/disorders. She previously worked at The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago and Craig Hospital in Denver where she gained significant experience and knowledge to the treatment of spinal cord injuries (SCI). At the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, she treated patients in inpatient rehabilitation, wheelchair and seating clinic and conducted research specific to stroke and SCI for which she is published. She was also facilitator at the annual SCI course and served as a mentor to therapists.  She also received a Nielsen grant to formulate and implement a SCI education program for inpatients to optimize their readiness for discharge into a community setting.

Lindsey received a BS in Human Performance from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Northeastern University. She is happy to call Virginia her home now, and is excited to be a board member. She is passionate about advocacy and community re-integration to promote an independent and healthy lifestyle. She is excited to serve the United Spinal Association community.

Sam Troia

Originally from Omaha, NE, I came to NRH as an occupational therapy student while completing my 2nd three-month rotation. I was on the spinal cord team as a student and fell in love with working with individuals after their injury. After I completed my doctorate in occupational therapy in May of 2018, NRH offered me a position on staff in inpatient rehab bringing my wife and I back to DC. I have been working on the spinal cord team for the last three years now and continue to feel the same excitement to come to work each day as I did as a student. I am excited and ready for the opportunity to contribute to the greater SCI community outside of the hospital. Outside of work, I am a passionate sports fan (Go Chiefs, Cubs, and Creighton Bluejays) and am flirting with the idea of being a semi-professional chef for my wonderful pregnant wife. Being on the board for United Spinal is the opportunity I have been looking for to better understand the needs, desires, and obstacles facing individuals living with a SCI.

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