Board of Directors
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
Carole Schwartz continues to work beyond "retirement" as adjunct faculty at RUSH University, co-advising, Occupational Therapy doctoral students in their research project. This research is related to Schwartz’s area of publication interest:: Improving Healthcare for Persons with Loss or Reduced Cognition and/or Communication Abilities. In 2022 Schwartz co-authored two publications now in The Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with additional related co-authoring work in process. In 2022, she is co-authoring a second edition chapter titled, “Physiological and Neurological System Changes with Aging and Related Occupational Therapy (OT) Interventions” within an OT textbook in its final draft. Schwartz is an advisor on three Consortium Action Networks for Dr. Sarah Ailey’s (PI), ACL grant: Partnering to Transform Health Outcomes w/ Persons with IDD (PATH-PWIDD) project. I
In 2019 & 2020 Ms. Schwartz was a panel member (lead by Sarah Ailey PhD, RN, Rush University Medical Center) at two annual American Association of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) national conferences. In 2019 her self-directed project at Ray Graham Association, yielded content used to win a grant by Ray Graham Assoc. to improve healthcare for persons with IDD; also serving on the RGA steering committee for that grant. Schwartz has participated as a reviewer on a NIDILRR for a RRTC grant awarding project. Ms. Schwartz has over 20 years of combined professional clinical and research experience with acute and post-acute care rehabilitation populations. Including team work on quality measurement development at Research Triangle Institute, International (RTI). Schwartz also 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 loss or reduced cognition and/or communication abilities are admitted to ED or hospitalized.
Ellen Bannister is the mother of two children with developmental disabilities. She is Academic Programs Coordinator of the Center for Learning and Leadership/ Oklahoma’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC). Her formal training was in the humanities, but her life experience of caring for children with developmental disabilities has inspired her current work: improving access to high-quality health care for people with developmental disabilities. Ellen Bannister received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English literature at the University of Kansas. She completed her coursework for a Ph.D. at Boston University. Before joining the Center for Learning and Leadership staff, she taught at the University of Oklahoma for many years in the English Department. In 2013, she received the Integrity Apex Award from the University of Oklahoma Integrity Council for her work in fostering high-quality scholarship and promoting academic integrity. In 2014, Ellen received the Emerging Leaders Scholarship to the AUCD national convention.
Ellen acts as liaison for the UCEDD’s academic partners, Faculty Associates, and the seven colleges of OUHSC. She coordinates the Oklahoma UCEDD/LEND Consumer Advisory Committee and is a member of the OUHSC Interprofessional Educators and Practitioners Association (IEPA). Currently, she is Co-PI on the Self-Advocates/Family Advocates as Medical Educators (SAME/FAME) project that uses a steering committee composed of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, family caregivers, interdisciplinary healthcare faculty, and healthcare students to develop a course for healthcare students at OUHSC: “Collaborative Teamwork with Patients with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and Family Caregivers.” She is Secretary of the Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education and a board member.
Andrew Symons, MD
Dr Symons (2022) is President of the NYS Academy of Family Physicians. He stated "I am a family physician at UBMD Family Medicine where I provide comprehensive care for children and adults. Health maintenance is a cornerstone of my practice, at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, together with a team of resident physicians, I care for adult patients who require hospitalization. I maintain excellent relationships with subspecialists and can coordinate consultation with them when my patients need specialized care. My research is focused on medical education, particularly as it relates to determinants of student choice to pursue careers in primary care.
I serve as the vice chair for medical student education in the Department of Family Medicine and have a special interest in teaching students about the central role of family medicine in providing high quality, cost-effective health care. I direct the first-year clinical skills course in the medical school and routinely lecture in that course on the fundamentals of performing a patient interview and physical exam.I developed and implemented a curriculum to teach students to care for patients with disabilities. In addition, medical students participating in their family medicine clerkship and clinical skills course accompany me as I see patients, in order to deepen their understanding of patient care.
I also supervise residents at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. Teaching students and residents keeps me sharp: it informs my practice of medicine, while my practice of medicine assures that I remain relevant as a teacher.