Meet The Team
Wendy Elliott-Vandivier is a certified SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) with a diverse background in government civil rights enforcement, managing human resources in private industry, and community advocacy. Elliott-Vandivier has been a leader in the disability civil rights community for over 30 years. In her professional work, she has successfully managed human resources, employee relations, EEO, Affirmative Action and Diversity issues for several large businesses.
Before joining the private sector, Elliott-Vandivier worked for nine years for the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, where she managed the agency’s Regional Technical Assistance Staff. She played a lead role in the implementation of federal civil rights statutes in a six-state region.
Her strong commitment to enhancing opportunities for women, minorities and people with disabilities extends beyond her professional experience. She is a former Board Member of the American Association of People with Disabilities, and the former Chair of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, where she advised the Mayor and Assistant Deputy Mayor with respect to existing and proposed policies, programs, and services for people with disabilities, and informed the public at large about the needs of the disability community. She was also the Co-founder of MOM Center (Making Options for Motherhood) at Thomas Jefferson University.
Elliott-Vandivier has a BFA from Temple University, Tyler School of Art. Her paintings explore issues of family, memory and experiences as a disabled woman. Her autobiographical cartoons focus on attitudinal barriers and stereotypes regarding disabilities, and some of the micro-aggressions that disabled people experience while living normal, un-inspirational lives. She is also a photographer of micro-scale monuments in nature and is often inspired by close-up images that people often do not notice in daily life – tree bark, dead leaves, flower anatomy, and water.
Marie Protesto has been a coordinator of the Spinal Cord Injury Peer Mentor Program at Magee Rehabilitation since 1999 and living with a spinal cord injury for over 30 years. Since her disability, she has been involved with a number of organizations striving to better the lives of people with disabilities such as Barrier Awareness of Delaware County, Global Abilities Foundation, Patients with Disabilities as Teachers (P-DAT) at Thomas Jefferson University, and Inglis Foundation.
Janet Parker, a physical therapist at MossRehab Hospital, has served as a Board member on the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the United Spinal Association since its founding in 2012. Janet graduated from Arcadia University in 1994 with a Masters in Physical Therapy and has spent 25 years at MossRehab primarily specializing in caring for individuals with spinal cord injuries. She regularly lectures and mentors other health care professionals on spinal cord injury-related topics. Janet understands many of the challenges that individuals with spinal cord injuries face particularly when they are newly injured and values her role in assisting them to return to a full and meaningful life. She sees her activities on the United Spinal Association Chapter as a continuum of this work, allowing her to support and advocate for individuals with spinal cord injuries and other neurologic conditions who are living in the Greater Philadelphia community.
Caitlin Chasar serves as a Board member of United Spinal Association of Greater Philadelphia. She was born with spina bifida and grew up playing wheelchair basketball. She was a scholar athlete at Edinboro University and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Art in Communication and a Master’s of Art in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling. She considers herself a disability rights advocate. She serves as Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2022. Caitlin is a Grants and Policy Development Coordinator at Liberty Resources Inc. She currently lives in Philadelphia and plays on the Magee Rehab 76ers Wheelchair Basketball team.
Dave Driscoll is a survivor of a spinal cord injury following surgery to his cervical spine. After spending time at Moss Rehab in both the inpatient and outpatient settings, both Dave and his wife have become peer mentors at Moss. Being a peer mentor has allowed Dave to help others with their disability.Dave is a 30 year employee of PECO Energy with his current position as a foreman in the emergency department. Dave has also held board positions on local little league and youth basketball organizations in his township, having held the position of President of the basketball program. Dave enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons.
Megan Mueller is a clinical occupational therapist as well a professor of occupational therapy. She has been working with individuals who have SCI/D at Moss Rehab in Elkins Park for the past 6 years with a speciality focus on sexuality. She also lectures at local universities on the topic of spinal cord injury as well as sexual expression/participation. Megan is honored to be a part of United Spinal and support the members by focusing on their interests and organizing monthly educational webinars.
Educational Webinar Committee Head
Sarah Lamberton has been working as a Physical therapist at MossRehab in Elkins Park for ~4 years with experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She has experience treating patients with spinal cord injuries both in the outpatient and inpatient settings. She is currently part of the full time staff on the inpatient rehab unit. She is the only certified user of the Eksoskeleton Robotic device on the Spinal Cord Injury unit at MossRehab. She enjoys empowering others to regain their mobility and confidence after injury along with returning to previous life roles. She is actively involved with the SCI/D Peer Mentorship program at MossRehab to further facilitate recovery. Sarah has been a board member since 2020 and serves as chair of the Membership Committee as well as participates with event planning such as the Wash N' Tune.
Membership Committee Head
My name is Alan Bronstein. I’m a T-3 para due to an auto accident in January, 1985. I’m married with 2 adult sons, a lawyer in NYC and a brewer in St. Croix, USVI. My wife is a still practicing accountant. After my injury I played “independent investor/trader” for a couple of years, but then decided I had to get out of the house and be around people. Long story – short: I became a chemistry teacher and drama sponsor at my old high school in Philly. Over the 25 years I taught I was honored with 2 teaching awards (picture attached of my presentation for the Freida J. Riley Award) both of which I feel very honored to have received.
After retiring 7 years ago, I found I missed the kids. So, now I volunteer and substitute at the school. I also join some professors at Temple U. each December to perform a “demothon,” i.e. putting on a show of chemical demonstrations for middle school kids.
Perhaps it was because I was the Drama sponsor, I began to view teaching as putting on a new show everyday for 180 days... and since I was teaching chemistry, it could be (sometimes) a magic show, as well. I tried to make it interesting for me as well as for the kids. Maybe that’s why I’ve missed it – it was fun.
Mary Salisbury has been involved with United Spinal Philadelphia since 2020. She assists with social media management as well as marketing. In 2017, she sustained a spinal cord injury due to a spinal stroke and is now a wheelchair user. She spent time rehabilitating at Magee Rehabilitation, both inpatient and outpatient where she learned about United Spinal. She is a graduate of Temple University (2017) and is currently a full-time graduate student there as well set to graduate in 2022.
Rachael Houtman, PT, DPT, NCS, ATP began career in spinal cord injury rehabilitation began at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA in 2012. She has worked in the acute care setting, inpatient rehab, and outpatient for over 10 years specializing in providing care for individuals with spinal cord injuries. While she continues in both hospital settings per diem, she is currently focused in home and community based environments where she works primarily with individuals who have experienced SCI/D and other neurologic injury assisting patients as they transition home and navigate life within the community. Rachael is a member of the APTA, a current board member of the Therapy Leadership Council (TLC) of ASCIP, and is excited as she begins her involvement on the board for the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the United Spinal Association.
Fundraising Committee Head
Samantha Twining is a full time Political Science Student, a Public Speaker, storyteller, and Disability Rights Advocate who works with individuals and organizations seeking a better understanding of accessibility, The ADA, and a disability perspective.
At age 21, she was in a car accident that caused a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), which left her paralyzed from the waist down. “As someone who navigates through this world in a wheelchair, It’s important for me to share this perspective so that there is a human understanding behind The ADA,” says Samantha. She has an array of platforms that she speaks on; and tailors the structure of her story in a transparent, relatable, yet powerful way aiming to amplify individual power within those who are watching.
Samantha’s professional background is in sales and sales training, but her SCI has increasingly swayed her in the direction of advocacy and policy - which inspired her to go back to school at 36 to complete her degree. Samantha is serving in her first term as a Housing Commissioner in Delaware County where she the committee chair for Accessible Initiatives. She is also an active member of the Advocacy Committee at the United Spinal national level where they work to develop policy for a more inclusive world.
During her speaking engagements, she uses her skills to captivate and engage with the crowd, leaving them with an honest interpretation of her everyday hurdles. Samantha has spoken to students of all ages, from 1st graders to medical students. “Jefferson Health has ultimately been the most fulfilling platform. Speaking with medical students as they learn their trade is important. The patient's perspective is crucial, and hearing personal stories makes them more attentive professionals.”
Janet Hertz is a neuro physical therapist at Magee Rehab’s Riverfront campus. Janet completed a 6-month internship at the Riverfront in in 2015 during her final year of Arcadia’s DPT program, and she has been there ever since! Janet is passionate about advocacy for individuals with SCI/D and she has served as a Board member for the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the United Spinal Association since 2020. Back in January 2021, Janet was matched with a facility dog named Oona; she is an adorable lab/golden mix. Oona was trained by Canine Companions and she now works alongside Janet each day at the Riverfront.
Bio to come