Board of  Directors

Dr. Sarah Ailey, PhD, RN, CDDN, FAAN



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.

Teresa Moro, PhD, AM, LSW

Vice President


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). 

Ellen Bannister



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 Co-Secretary of the Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education and a board member.

Andrew Symons, MD



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.