Jim Caffry, ESQ of Caffry Law, PLLC

Jim will be discussing "Future & Estate Planning for Survivors & Families" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference!

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Jim received his Law Degree from Albany Law School in 1994 (J.D. cum laude) and his Masters of Environmental Law in 1993 (M.S.E.L. magna cum laude). He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Colgate University in 1988. He has been licensed to practice law in Vermont since 1995.

Prior to opening Caffry Law in 2011, Jim practiced law at Darby Stearns Thorndike Kolter & Ware, LLP from 2000 to 2010.  Jim was also Assistant General Counsel for the American Skiing Company and a Land Use Attorney for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

Jim is an active member of the Special Needs Alliance (SNA). In addition to the SNA, Jim is also a member of the Vermont Bar Association,   the American Bar Association and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). Jim is also a member of the Autism Society of America.

Closer to home, Jim has been involved with numerous groups and boards in Vermont that deal with issues that impact individuals with disabilities and their families. He was a member of the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council from 2009 – 2014. He is a former member of the Vermont Autism Task Force (2007 – 2010). Jim is also a frequent participant at meetings of several Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) committees, including the DAIL Advisory Board and the Developmental Disabilities Services State Program Standing Committee.  Jim is currently a member of the board of directors of Champlain Community Services and a board member of the Mad River Valley Community Fund. He is a former board member of the Mad River Valley Health Center, Inc. and Camp Dudley YMCA, Inc., and a former member of the Waitsfield Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Jim lives in Waitsfield, Vermont with his wife Amy, their son, two daughters, and a semi-retired Autism Service Dog. When not at work, Jim likes to enjoy the outdoors with his family.

 John Richards, MSW, MBA

John will be discussing "Reaching for Positives" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference!

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John is a lifelong resident of New Hampshire who has worked in human services for over 30 years. His career took an unexpected turn in August 2000 when he sustained a cerebral cavernous malformation, more commonly known as a brain bleed. Consequently, he has been on both sides of the disability conversation, having worked to support people with brain injuries and other disabilities, and then to become a survivor himself. 

He has worked with the Brain Injury Association of America, Crotched Mountain Rehab Center and was the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Governor's Commission on Disabilities.  

Mostly, however, John has been actively involved in the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire for a long time; he presently works for the Association on a variety of special projects.

Tim Feeney, PhD

Tim will be discussing "Rehabilitation as a Social Imperative" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference.

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Tim Feeney is the Chief Knowledge Officer for Belvedere Health Services in Albany, NY and the Director of the Mill School in Burlington, VT. Tim has assisted numerous agencies in the development of system-wide changes in order to provide sustainable, high quality, and cost-effective education and rehabilitation services and has consulted in the development of comprehensive educational services in over 200 school districts around the world. For 20 years he was the Project Director of the New York Neurobehavioral Resource Project, a CMS identified best practice model program developed to support individuals with brain injury and significant behavioral challenges to live successfully in their home communities. 

Over the course of the past 25+ years, Tim has worked in a variety of capacities in human services including: special education teacher, program director of a state program for individuals with autism, coordinator of educational services, coordinator of behavioral services, staff psychologist, consulting behavior specialist, a tenured Associate Professor of Special Education, and a Clinical Associate Professor for Rehabilitation Services. He has been responsible for the procurement and coordination of over $15,000,000 in grant-funded programs serving individuals with challenging behaviors, autism, and persons with brain injury and challenging behaviors. Tim has authored over 50 scholarly journal articles and book chapters, is co-author, with Mark Ylvisaker, of the book Collaborative Brain Injury Intervention: Positive Everyday Routines, and travels the world over speaking to audiences about collaborative services designed to support individuals with complex needs.

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Porter will be discussing "Getting Papers in Order" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference!

Porter is a dynamic and popular presenter, life-changing consultant, and author of two books: Organized to Last: 5 Simple Steps to Staying Organized and Get Paid to Win Clients: Public Speaking as a Marketing Tool. A nationally-recognized industry leader, she was one of the first in the nation to achieve the credential of Certified Professional Organizer®, and developed the industry’s flagship education courses, “Introduction to Professional Organizing” and “Starting an Organizing Business.”

An active member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), she has been one of NAPO’s most popular conference presenters, and has twice been nominated for the prestigious “Founders Award.”

Porter holds a degree in Political Science from Middlebury College. She worked for several years in the environmental field, establishing county-wide recycling programs and teaching waste reduction, composting, and alternatives to household hazardous products. In 1996, after years of creating order out of chaos for friends and family, Porter started her own company to put her productivity skills to work, and has since helped thousands of business professionals across the country.

Porter is an avid equestrian, foxhunter, and hiker. As a Board member of the Bristol Recreation Club, she is spearheading the effort to create the Bristol Trails Network, a consortium of trails in and around the community. Porter also volunteers for the Vermont Refugee Assistance Program and is a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem in Addison Family Court. A graduate of Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont), Porter lives in Bristol, Vermont with her husband and their two sons. 

Amanda St Ivany, PhD, RN

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Amanda will be discussing "TBI from Intimate Partner Violence" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference.

Amanda St Ivany, PhD, RN is a postdoctoral research fellow at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Hitchcock.  Dr. St. Ivany’s research interests include understanding the clinical and social conditions of women who are living with brain injuries from gender-based violence, exploring how having a brain injury could be a risk factor for experiencing or perpetrating violence, and public health and health equity.  She has published multiple manuscripts and has presented her work at national and international conferences. She is a member of multisite teams researching structural violence and health equity.  

Research estimates that 75% of women with a history of IPV have sustained TBI from IPV with nearly 50% women reporting receiving multiple TBI.  Three concepts will be used to aid in describing TBI from IPV as a health inequity: intersectionality, syndemics, and structural violence. Intersectionality explains how the interactions between identities of race, class, ability, and gender affect individual experiences, opportunities, and social value.  Structural violence is a phenomenon wherein a policy, structure, or institution prevents someone from accessing resources to meet their needs. Syndemics can be described as the ways in which two or more diseases interact in social conditions to create an excessive burden on health. These concepts are defined and explained as an equation to visualize how individual-level labels and characteristics (intersectionality) interact with sociocultural systems-level discrimination (structural violence) to lead to increased health risk and burden in communities (syndemics).  Violence and trauma prevention must be priorities at community and policy levels with approaches that are tailored to account for the fact that certain populations are at increased risk for multiple TBI. This theoretical reframing can lead to developing a more nuanced operationalization of structural violence and trauma-informed care with implications for research, practice, and policy for women living with TBIs from IPV.

Patricia Fontaine

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2019 CONFERENCE MATERIALS: Writing as Healing by Patricia Fontaine

Patricia will be discussing "Writing as Healing" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference!

With Masters in Counseling Psychology and Transformative Language Arts, Patricia Fontaine has facilitated workshops for many years. As someone with a complex cancer story, she knows art and writing can be a creative refuge. Patricia currently teaches expressive art and writing classes, and has led numerous workshops on creativity and resilience. She self-published a book of cancer poems, Lifting My Shirt, and edited two collections of student work called Healing Art & Writing: Using Creativity to Meet Illness.  

Writing As Healing: The natural ability of the body to heal can be enhanced by artistic expression, and writing is a form of art accessible to all of us. Using simple writing techniques, participants will leave with some concrete tools and resources to begin or enhance their own writing practice. No experience necessary!

Kyla Pearce, PhD

Kyla will be discussing "Yoga & Meditation for ABI: Evidence & Innovations" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference!

Kyla has blended her expertise as a yoga teacher and researcher to develop a TBI-focused yoga curriculum that integrates gentle yoga, meditation, pranayama, and psychoeducation. This curriculum, now offered in yoga studios across the United States and Canada, is designed based on the science underpinning resilience, and empowers people with TBI to become more active participants in their healing process.

Training: Since the inception of the LYB Yoga program in 2015, Kyla has trained over 1,000 yoga teachers and clinicians in how to adapt yoga, meditation, and pranayama for TBI, including physical, cognitive, and social modifications. Specifically, Kyla leads comprehensive in-person and online trainings designed for yoga teachers, clinicians, and TBI advocates who want to gain knowledge and skills in how to adapt these practices to address the unique needs of those with brain injury. Kyla has completed trainings in vinyasa, ashtanga, adaptive yoga with Matthew Sanford, Lakshmi Voelker Chair Yoga, iRest Level 1 yoga nidra, mindfulness meditation with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, Yin Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation with Sagel Urchel, Self-Compassion with Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer, among others.

Teaching: Kyla has been teaching yoga, pranayama, and meditation to groups of individuals with TBI and their support people since 2014. She has been an invited faculty at several conferences related to using yoga for improving physiological and psychosocial outcomes, including at the Yoga for Traumatic Stress Conference in Sedona, AZ and the Yoga Service Conference in Rhinebeck, NH. Kyla also curates and contributes to the LoveYourBrain Foundation’s Meditation Movement, a series of TBI-focused audio-recorded meditations available for free on the LoveYourBrain Foundation’s website.

Research: Kyla is a post-doctoral research scholar at Dartmouth College, through which she investigates the effectiveness of yoga for populations with different neurological conditions, including TBI and MS. She also leads LoveYourBrain’s research portfolio in the application of yoga and meditation for community-based rehabilitation for TBI. She led the design and implementation of a pilot evaluation of an 8-week gentle yoga program from people affected by brain injury, published in the peer-reviewed journal, Brain Injury. She also led a qualitative study, published in Disability and Rehabilitation, exploring the experiences of participants in the LoveYourBrain Yoga program. To support clinicians to integrate yoga and meditation into their clinical practice, she also conducts academic presentations (e.g., Brain Injury Rehabilitation Conference) and in-service presentations (e.g., Craig Hospital, Shepherd Center, Scripps Memorial Hospital) describing the evidence of using these practices to support TBI rehabilitation. 


Katherine Elmer, Herbalist

Katherine will be discussing "Herbal & Nutritional Support for Healing from TBIs" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference!

Katherine Elmer grew up in the green hills of Central Vermont and revels in the opportunity to connect with clients around a shared love of place and nature through whole foods nutrition and herbal medicine via her clinical work at the Burlington Herb Clinic and her community education efforts at Spoonful Herbals. Although Katherine welcomes clients of all genders, she specializes in supporting clients who identify as women to access their highest potential and quality of life through their healing journey. Katherine is co-founder of Burlington Herb Clinic and RAILYARD Apothecary. Katherine teaches Herbal Medicine and advises the Student Herbalism Club at the University of Vermont. She also participates in the UVM Medical Center's Integrative Health Program. In addition to her efforts as a clinically-trained Community Herbalist, she is a childbirth mentor (Birthing from Within), and a mom to her 7 year old son, Liam, and a labradoodle named Maatje.


Sambit Mohapatra, PT, PhD

2019 CONFERENCE MATERIALS: Concussion or mBI: What have we learnt so far?

Sambit will be discussing "Concussion or mBI: What have we learnt so far?" at our 31st Annual Brain Injury Conference!

Dr. Mohapatra’s primary area of expertise is in the development of rapid, mobile and reliable screening tools for mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) in student athletes and veterans. Specifically, his approach is a unique and multidimensional utilization of standing balance, cognition and eye tracking as primary indicators for mTBI.

Dr. Mohapatra is also passionate in designing novel rehabilitation paradigms to improve recovery of motor functions post-stroke. He is trained in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and uses this technique to correlate neurophysiology with specific motor outcomes.