Dr. Sarah Ailey, PhD, RN, CDDN, FAAN
Immediate Past President
Dr. Sarah Ailey is a professor in the Department of Community, Systems, and Mental Health Nursing at Rush University, Chicago, IL. Her research and scholarly practice are concentrated on improving the lives of people with disabilities, in particular intellectual disabilities, by translating research into practice within community and inpatient hospital settings. She is the Principal Investigator for the Partnering with Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to Transform Health Outcomes (PATH-PWIDD) Program, funded by the Administration for Community Living. The program addresses gaps in health professions training programs by embedding disability-related content on the health care of individuals with IDD into an interprofessional health education curriculum. Advocates with IDD and family advocates are active in all components of the program. Sarah is also the Principal Investigator for the Steps to Effective Problem-solving (STEPS) program in group homes, funded by an R01 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute. She has been the advisor and/or content by translating research into practice within community and inpatient hospital settings expert for at least 40 PhD, DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) and MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) students on projects related to the care of people with disabilities, mostly related to intellectual disabilities.
Doreen Bestolarides, R.N.
Doreen is a retired R.N. Active Board member and AADMD executive Board Parent Advocacy; Doreen is an active member DDNA on Nursing Practice Committee. National speaker on topics related to IDD health equity. Doreen also is a parent and professional advocate with over three decades of hospital nursing experience, with a focus in critical care. She has dedicated the direction of her nursing career, by developing a nursing role, to better serve hospitalized patients with Developmental Disabilities. She has continued that advocacy in her personal life to not only be a resource and educator in her own community, but to pursue her vision on the national stage through organizations such as DDNA- Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association on the Practice Committee, defining Nursing practice standards; AADMD - American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry and serving as Board member for ADHCE- Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education. She is the 2021 recipient of the AADMD Family Advocacy Award. She retired from hospital nursing in 2020.
Priya Chandan, MD, MPH, PhD
Priya Chandan, MD, MPH, PhD is a physician-scientist who engages in research that addresses health disparities experienced by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is also passionate about medical education, including teaching Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation residents and medical students about the research process and about delivering quality healthcare for people with disabilities.
Dr. Chandan serves as Project Director for the National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine (NCIDM), a five-year partnership between the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) and Special Olympics International (SOI), with resources from a cooperative agreement funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal of this project is to provide training to medical students in the field of developmental medicine - the care of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) across the lifespan.
Dr. Chandan serves as Global Clinical Advisor for Special Olympics International's MedFest program, which provides free sports physicals to Special Olympics athletes worldwide.
Peppar Cyr, MPhil
Peppar Cyr is a disabled MD/PhD student at Washington University in St. Louis, who is passionate about disability inclusion in medicine - both caring for disabled patients and making medicine itself more accessible and welcoming to disabled providers. Her thesis research is on using multimodal neuroimaging in very preterm infants to better predict individual motor outcomes through age 10 years. Alongside her studies, Peppar is heavily involved in changing how her medical school teaches about disability. She plans to become an academic pediatric subspecialist, working to help disabled children meet their own goals for a happy and meaningful life.
Melissa (Gridley) Desroches, PhD, RN
Dr. Desroches is an Assistant Professor of Community Nursing at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth/Johns Hopkins Building for Scale Scholar. She stated "I am a passionate, motivated registered nurse and scientist-educator. My mission is to improve nursing care through education, research, and policy. I believe that education is liberation... if it is done right. Preparing future nurses to be engaged lifelong learners and critical and reflective thinkers is top priority. In my research, I focus on the influence of nurses' attitudes and emotions toward caring for adults with intellectual disabilities. I am specifically interested in how nurses' beliefs influence nursing care and health disparities. My specialized training in nursing research, nursing education, health policy, and leadership has given me the tools to partner with people
with disabilities, their families, and communities to promote lasting change. When nursing care is improved for our most vulnerable, it is improved for us all."
Alina Engelman, DrPH, MPH
Dr. Engelman is an Associate Professor of Health Sciences at California State University, East Bay, and on the Community Health Commission for the City of Berkeley. She is an affiliated researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on health disparities for people with disabilities. She received her DrPH at UC Berkeley, her MPH at Yale and her BA at Brown.
Dr. Joan Earle Hahn, PhD, RN/APRN, GCNS-BC, GNP-BC, CNL, CDDN
Founding Board Member Chair, Task Force, Alliance Core Competencies Chair, Google Group - 2021 Co-Chair, Google Tech Group 2021 Board Member, 2019 – present
Dr. Hahn earned baccalaureate degrees in psychology and in nursing from the University of Rochester, masters and PhD degrees from Rush University, and a post master’s certificate for gerontological nurse practitioner at UCLA. Dr. Hahn developed a passion for promoting and maximizing the well-being of older adults living with disabilities when she began her nursing career as a rehabilitation nurse at Rush University Medical Center’s Johnston R. Bowman Health Center for the Elderly and worked as a research associate in the early years of the RRTC on Aging and Disability at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She holds ANCC certification as a Clinical Nurse Leader and in advanced practice nursing roles as Clinical Nurse Specialist and Nurse Practitioner in gerontological nursing and earned certification in the specialty practice of developmental disabilities nursing from DDNA. Dr. Hahn’s prior academic appointments were at the University of Cincinnati, at UCLA, and in the University System of New Hampshire. Dr. Hahn held affiliated faculty roles at three University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. She is a world-renowned expert on development and testing of home-based nurse-led intervention models to promote health and wellness among people aging with intellectual disability. She is a founding board member of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association and the Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education and is a leader in the development of curriculum and competencies on disability in nursing and health education. Dr. Hahn joined the Walden University faculty in health sciences and nursing in 2018. She is the Academic Research Coordinator for the Walden DNP program. and was elected as the first founding board member of the Alliance to rejoin the Board in 2019. Dr. Hahn is a faculty fellow of the inaugural 2021-2022 Golisano Fellowship in Developmental Disability Nursing program.
Teresa Moro, PhD, AM, LSW
Dr Moro is a social worker and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work in the College of Health Sciences at Rush University in Chicago. Her work focuses on integrating social care into health care with a specific focus on the impact of the environment and lived experiences on chronic illness, disability, and aging. Her primary focus has been exploring larger questions about the health of individuals with intellectual disabilities. At Rush, she is also a program coordinator for the Center for Health and Social Care Integration and as a project coordinator for Dr. Ailey’s Steps to Effective Problem-Solving (R01 HD086211-01A1; PI: Ailey). Dr. Moro is also a member of the Steering Committee for the Partnering with Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to Transform Health Outcomes (PATH-PWIDD) Program (90DNHE0001-01-00; PI: Ailey).
Arielle Silverman PhD
Arielle Silverman is a consultant working to promote a fuller understanding of the disability experience. She collaborates on research and training activities designed to improve the attitudes of healthcare providers toward people with disabilities. Arielle received her doctorate in social psychology from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2014 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington. Currently, Dr. Silverman works full-time at the American Foundation for the Blind.
Former Board Members
Ken Robey - Founding President of The Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education, Inc.
Suzanne Smeltzer (past president)
Susan Havercamp (past president)