Board Members

Doreen Bestolarides, R.N.


Doreen 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


Priya Chandan is a physician-scientist who specializes in community-engaged research that addresses the health disparities experienced by people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, in medical education research about disability, and in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) health services research.  As an Assistant Professor in the Division of PM&R at the University of Louisville, Dr. Chandan is passionate about teaching PM&R residents and medical students about delivering quality healthcare for people with disabilities.  She received her MD and MPH from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and is currently a PhD Candidate in Health Services Organization and Research at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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

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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.

Winston Kennedy DPT, PhD Candidate 


Winston Kennedy is a licensed physical therapist and is a trained public health professional. He is currently a PhD Candidate at Oregon State University. He has expertise in multiple areas of focus in Physical Therapy, including orthopedics, pediatrics, neurological disorders and geriatrics. Dr Kennedy also has experience in the field of Kinesiology; specifically, adapted physical activity, motor development, lifetime physical activity, and strength and conditioning. His public health experience is in the realm of health promotion. Additionally, he has over six years of work experience in acute care, out-patient, and home health settings, as well as experience in pediatric and skilled nursing settings. Currently Dr. Kennedy is focusing on finding solutions to provide access to healthcare resources for marginalized groups, with an emphasis on people with disabilities.

Rebecca Kronk, PhD, MSN, CRNP, ANEF, FAAN, CNE


Dr Kronk’s nursing career has focused on children with a range of developmental, genetic, and behavioral concerns and their families. Her training received as a fellow in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) at the University of Pittsburgh, was used to orient and target her research and practice in the area of genetic conditions and developmental disabilities. Programs she was chosen for include: NINR Summer Genetics Institute (2011), NINR Sleep Methodologies Boot Camp (2013), NINR Big Data Methodologies Boot Camp (2015) National Human Genome Research Institute Summer Workshop (2015). She is a pioneer in the field of pediatric genetics and disability nursing. Her work as a 2016 Sigma Theta Tau Internationals (STTI) Emerging Educational Administration Institute (EEAI) scholar applied the Delphi methodology to establish a set of BSN competencies to care for people with disabilities since none currently exist. This work was presented at the 2017 STTI International Convention and has the potential to equip nurses to care for individuals with disabilities across the lifespan. Presently, she is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Duquesne University School of Nursing, Pittsburgh PA

Carole Schwartz MS Gerontology, OTR


Although Carole Schwartz is currently retired she is an adjunct faculty, co-advising RUSH University, Occupational Therapy doctoral students research project. The student project is related to Schwartz’s White Paper: Improving Healthcare for Persons with Functional Impairment in Cognition and/or Communication. She’s presented as a panel member (led by Dr. Sarah Ailey) at two AADMD national conferences. In 2019 her self-directed project at Ray Graham Association, yielded content later used by RGA to win a grant for improving healthcare for persons with IDD. She serves on the RGA steering committee for that grant. Schwartz participated on a grant review panel for the NIDILRR for a RRTC grant awarding project. Ms. Schwartz’s career history includes over 20 years of combined professional clinical and research experience with acute and post-acute care rehabilitation populations. This included team work on quality measurement development at Research Triangle Institute, International (RTI). RTI work was linked to prior project work at, Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research (CROR). Projects included leading Medication Reconciliation Quality Measure development to meet the requirements of the IMPACT Act (e.g. conducting pilot testing, analyzing CMS technical report data, training manual content development informing data collection). She contributed to development and implementation of the standardized, post-acute care, patient assessment for self-care and mobility quality measures; conducting national provider training and provider training manual content. For three years, she served as Senior Policy Advisor at the IL Department on Aging. She states her greatest teacher about the lived experience with disabilities, was her late step-daughter who couldn’t use words or sign language to communicate. Her step-daughter’s many hospitalizations due to chronic health complications and profound IDD thoroughly informed Ms. Schwartz of the gaps in healthcare when persons with functional impairments of cognition and communication are admitted to ED or hospitalized.

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.

Former Board Members


  • Catherine Graham

  • Joan Hahn

  • Susan Havercamp (past president)

  • Paula Minihan

  • Ken Robey (Founding President of  The Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education, Inc. 

  • Suzanne Smeltzer (past president)

  • Carl Tyler

  • Laurie Woodard