Supporting Families Course Faculty Biographies and Contact Information

Course Directors

Dr. Rory A. Cooper

Distinguished Professor, FISA/PVA Chair, Department of Rehabilitation and Technology, University of Pittsburgh 
Director, Human Engineering Research Laboratories
VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence fore Wheelchairs and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering
Pittsburgh, PA

Contact Information
Human Engineering Research Laboratories
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
6425 Penn Avenue, Suite 400
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 822-3700 

Rory A. Cooper, PhD received the BS and MEng degrees in electrical engineering for California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1985 and 1986, respectively. He received the Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering with a concentration in bioengineering from University of California at Santa Barbara in 1989. He is FISA & Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Chair and Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, and professor of Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physical Medicine & Rehab, and Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Cooper is Founding Director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence in Pittsburgh. He is also the Co-Director of the NSF Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center, a joint effort between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

He is the Editor of the journal Assistive Technology and the AT Research Book Series of IOS Press. Dr. Cooper serves or has served on the editorial boards of several prominent peer-reviewed journals in the fields of rehabilitation and bioengineering. He has received multiple prestigious awards to include the Olin Teague Award, Paul Magnuson Award, U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, James Peters Award, Maxwell J. Schleifer Award,DaVinci Lifetime Achievement Award, Veteran’s Leadership Program Veteran of the Year, and a member of the inaugural class of the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame. Dr. Cooper has authored or co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed journal publications. He has ten patents awarded or pending. Dr. Cooper is the author of two books: Rehabilitation Engineering Applied to Mobility and Manipulation and Wheelchair Selection and Configuration, and co-editor of An Introduction to Rehabilitation Engineering, Care of the Combat Amputee, and the Warrior Transition Leader Medical Rehabilitation Handbook. Dr. Cooper is an elected Fellow of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Dr. Cooper has been an invited lecturer at many institutions around the world, for example the National Academies of Sciences Distinctive Voices Lecture, and was awarded Honorary Professor at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Xi’an Jiatong University. He has also been elected to Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi honorary societies.   

Dr. Cooper is a former President of RESNA, and a member of the RESNA/ANSI and ISO Wheelchair Standards Committees, and IEEE-EMBS Medical Device Standards Committee. In 1988, he was a bronze medalist in the Paralympic Games, Seoul, Republic of Korea. He was on the steering committee for the 1996 Paralympic Scientific Congress held in Atlanta, GA, and the Sports Scientist for the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team in Beijing, China. In 2009, Dr. Cooper was featured on a Cheerios cereal box for his many achievements. He has been a member of theU.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – Medicare Advisory Committee, Steering Committee of the Academy of PM&R on Research Capacity Building. and Chair of the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, and National Academy of Sciences Keck Foundation Initiative on Human Health Span Steering Committee. Dr. Cooper is a U.S. Army veteran with a spinal cord injury and a Director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Research Foundation. He currently serves as a member of the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Prosthetics & Special Disability Programs Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Defense Health Board Subcommittee on Amputation and Orthopedics, and the Board of Directors of Easter Seals. Dr. Cooper has actively collaborated with the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre on increasing access to quality services and devices for people with disabilities in India and throughout developing countries.

COL Paul F. Pasquina


Colonel (RET), U.S. Army Medical Corps
Residency Director and Chair, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation  
Director, Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Contact Information
Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
8901 Wisconsin Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20889


Paul F. Pasquina, M.D. is the Residency Director and Chair, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  Dr. Pasquina retired from the United States Army Medical Corps in 2012 as Chief of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research (CRSR) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS).   He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and USUHS.  In addition to being board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R), he is also board certified in Electrodiagnostic Medicine and Pain Medicine.  He completed a fellowship in sports medicine and remains interested in all aspects of musculoskeletal medicine especially as it applies to individuals with disabilities.  He is the specialty consultant to the Army Surgeon General for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and a Secretarial appointee on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Advisory Committee for Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Programs.  Dr. Pasquina has authored multiple book chapters, journal articles and policy papers.  He has served as the PM&R Residency Program Director and Medical Advisor to the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command for quality healthcare. He has received multiple military awards, as well as awards for teaching and mentorship, including the U.S. Army’s “A” Proficiency Designation for academic excellence, the Order of Military Medical Merit, and Honorary Fellow of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

Guest Faculty

Laura J. Bauer, MPA
Director of National Initiatives
Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University

Ms. Bauer is the Director of National Initiatives for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) at Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) in Americus, Georgia.

Co-author of the RCI’s signature training program, Caring for You, Caring for Me – Education and Support for Family and Professional Caregivers, 2nd Edition; Laura has co-authored journal articles in Health & Social Work (2006) Educational Gerontology (2004), Generations (2010), and Aging Today (2012) and contributed chapters to Voices of Caregiving (LaChance Publishing, 2008) and Re-Creating Neighborhoods for Successful Aging (Health Professions Press, 2008).  Laura is a Certified Trainer in 5 evidence-based caregiving interventions: Savvy Caregiver, The Future is Now, RCI REACH, Care Consultation, and Operation Family Caregiver (Problem-Solving Training for Family Caregivers of Returning Service Members). She also teaches 3 courses in the RCI’s Certificate in Caregiving Program at Georgia Southwestern. 

Laura has previously worked as a counselor for at-risk youth at an outdoor therapeutic program and as a child abuse investigator. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Public Administration from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia and also holds a Certificate in Gerontology from GSW. Laura sits on the Board of Governors for the We Are Family Foundation in NYC and on the Board of Directors for the Mattie J. T. Stepanek Foundation. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Alpha Alpha, and the American Association of University Women.

An advocate for social justice, the environment, caregiving issues, and peace; Laura enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, photography, bird-watching, dancing, and music of all genres. She and her dog Katie are a certified Pet Partner animal therapy team; regularly volunteering their services at local elementary schools, hospices, hospitals and nursing homes. 

Susan Charlifue, PhD FACRM
Senior Principal Investigator
Craig Hospital

Dr. Charlifue has over 30 years of experience in SCI research and quality assurance.  She completed her doctorate in Health and Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado, Denver in 2004.  She has successfully managed and completed seven major collaborative investigations of SCI and aging in the US and Great Britain, and currently is PI on two studies of caregiving in SCI funded by NIDRR and the Department of Defense.  She coordinates the SCI research clinical trials at Craig Hospital and has managed Phase I, II and III investigations.  Dr. Charlifue is Chair of the Scientific Committee of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS), and serves on the Editorial and Education Committees of that organization as well.  She is on the Board of Directors for the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA), is past chair and current member of the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Special Interest Group (SIG) on Aging, is Chair-Elect of the SCI SIG of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) and also serves on the International Networking Group of ACRM.  In 2012 she was recognized as a Fellow of the ACRM.  She is a member of the editorial boards for the journals Spinal Cord and Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation.  Dr. Charlifue also serves on the Executive Committee of the International SCI Data Sets.   She chaired the Steering Committee for the first-ever State of the Science Conference in SCI Rehabilitation Research held in Washington DC in June of 2011.  She has authored over 65 book chapters and manuscripts, and has been invited to make numerous presentations at national and international professional meetings and symposia.  Dr. Charlifue also serves on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund.

Allen (Al) Condeluci, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Community Living and Support Services (CLASS)

Dr. Condeluci is CEO of CLASS, a community based support system for folks with all types of disabilities in Pittsburgh, PA.  He holds an MSW and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, where he is on faculty in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the School of Social Work.  He has authored 7 books, including the acclaimed, Interdependence: The Route to Community (1991) and the soon to be released, Power and Potency of Social Capital (2014). Among his other credits: 

            1973 – Joined CLASS as Program Director
            1984 – Awarded PhD from University of Pittsburgh
            1991 – Selected as CLASS CEO
            1992 – His book, Interdependence, wins AMA McMann Award
            1995 – Wins BIA-PA Hero Award
            1998 – Named to the Faculty at University of Pittsburgh
            2003 – Concludes successful $5 million Capital Campaign
            2007 – CLASS selected as “Best Place to Work”
            2008 – CLASS budget surpasses $30 million
            2010 – Winner of Frieda Shapira Medal – Outstanding Leader
            2010 – Launches the IN –
            2011 – CLASS again selected as “Best Place to Work”
            2011 – Winner of NABIS Public Policy Award
            2012 – Winner of Pitt Distinguished Alumni Award
            2012 –  Distinguished Member, Nat. Society of Collegiate Scholar

He lives in McKees Rocks, PA, just outside Pittsburgh, on the family hill with his wife, children and some 30 other members of the extended Condeluci family.  He can be reached at 412-683-7100 x 2122,, or

Chaplain (MAJOR) Lucy Der-Garabedian
BN Chaplain
Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Belvoir
United States Army

Chaplain (MAJOR) Der-Garabedian was born in Beirut, Lebanon.  She graduated from Central High School of Ashrafieh.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from Haigazian College in 1982.  She is a graduate of Near East School of Theology with Master’s of Christian Education in 1984.  She taught at Near East School of Theology in Christian Education Department.  She came to the United States to further her education.  She received her second Master’s Degree from Presbyterian School of Christian Education in 1989.  She worked with the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church USA as mission interpreter.  She went to Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and received her third Master’s in Divinity in 1993.

She is presently working on her Doctor’s Degree at Erskine Theological Seminary in South Carolina.  In 1993 she was ordained with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the Word and Sacrament and ministered in Michigan.  In 1996, she joined the US Army as a chaplain endorsed by the Presbyterian Council of Chaplains.  She served as Battalion Chaplain at Ft. Stewart, Georgia, then she was selected for Clinical Pastoral Education and had her training at Walter Reed Army Community Hospital in Washington, D.C. and Navel Hospital in Bethesda.  She served as the Hospital Chaplain at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.  She had a tour in South Korea, she completed Chaplain’s Career Course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in 2004, then she served as the Resource Manager at Fort Hood, Texas, supporting 130 chaplains. In April 2008 she completed Command General Staff College at Fort Lee VA, she was the Brigade Chaplain  with the 500 Military Intelligence Command at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. She was deployed to Iraq, in December 2010 she moved to Walter Reed Army Medical Center (Washington D.C.) as the Deputy Brigade Chaplain, ministering to Wounded Warriors. September 2011 she moved to Fort Belvoir VA as the BN Chaplain for Warrior Transition Unit. Chaplain Lucy M. Dergarabedian is grateful for the different opportunities of ministry around the world.

COL (RET) Derek Donovan, USMC
Vice President
Fisher House Foundation, Inc.

COL (RET) Donovan joined the Foundation in 2007 following 26 years of active duty service in the United States Marine Corps. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. A helicopter pilot by training, his last assignment was with the President’s Commission for the Care of America’s Returning Wounded Warriors.  In addition to extensive operational experience around the world he was also the first Marine selected as aide-de-camp to the Secretary of Navy and provided Presidential helicopter mission support as the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Air Facility, Quantico, Virginia. He also served with the Joint Staff for the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission and was responsible for the implementation of the recommendations impacting the Marine Corps.

Derek’s father was a 30-year Veteran of the United States Air Force and his mother served in the Army Nurse Corps. His wife Kathryn is an active duty Captain in the United States Navy currently serving at Naval Facilities Headquarters in Washington, DC. Their daughter, Emily, is a SeaBee assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 stationed in Gulfport, Mississippi and their son Morris is an Army and Navy Veteran currently working for BNSF Railroad in Colorado.

BG (RET) Rick D. Gibbs, MS
United States Army

Brigadier General (RET) Gibbs, a native of Austin, Texas, was commissioned as a 2LT of Infantry in 1982 from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Physical Education. He also holds a Master of Science in Management from Troy State University, and a Master in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.  

Brigadier General Gibbs' previous assignments include service with the 3rd Battalion, 28th Infantry in Wiesbaden, Germany; 3rd Battalion, 75th Infantry (Ranger) in Ft. Benning, Georgia.  He has served extensively with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, as Commander, C Company, 2-187 Infantry Battalion; Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, 101st (Desert Shield/Desert Storm); Commander, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, and as the G3 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  BG Gibbs also served in the 82nd Airborne Division, the XVIII Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, the Joint Staff, J8, and on the Army Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.  BG Gibbs assumed command of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Riley, Kansas, in July 2005.  In February 2007, the Brigade deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, as part of the Army’s “Surge” in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  For which the Brigade Combat Team (BCT) was awarded the Valorous Unit Award for its counter-insurgency operations in Baghdad’s Rashid Security District.  Brigadier General Gibbs served as the 1st Infantry Division Chief of Staff from May 2008 until 5 June 2009, 1st Infantry Division Deputy Commanding General-Maneuver from June 2009-January 2010 and Deputy Commanding General-Maneuver for United States-South in Basra, Iraq, from January 2010 to Jan 2011 during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. His final assignment was as Deputy Commanding General, V Corps in Wiesbaden, Germany and Operation Enduring Freedom, Kabul Afghanistan June 2011-May 2013.

Brigadier General Gibbs' awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters (OLC)), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (6 OLC), Joint Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (7 OLC), Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars, Iraqi Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Stars, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Saudi Arabian Liberation Medal, the NATO Medal, and the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal.  He earned Combat Infantryman Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the Pathfinder Badge, the Ranger Tab, the Joint Staff Identification Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge. 

He is married and has two children.

Sherman Gillums, Jr. MBA
Associate Executive Director
Paralyzed Veterans of America

Mr. Gillums is the associate executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America’s (PVA) Veterans Benefits Department. As the head of the department, he ensures that veterans and their families receive all the VA benefits to which they are entitled. Gillums also manages the PAVE program, a veteran career assistance service that helps all veterans and their families on a path toward economic self-sufficiency.

Gillums first started with PVA in 2004 as a national service officer in San Diego, where he prosecuted VA benefits claims and clinical appeals for veterans and families in the area. He later became involved with the local PVA chapter, and went on to become the chapter’s president. Gillums also served on PVA’s National Field Advisory Committee. After earning a graduate degree in business from the University of San Diego, he returned to the VA benefits claims arena as a PVA appellate representative at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC, before accepting his current position.

Gillums began his military career in the U.S. Marine Corps when he enlisted at the age of 17. He quickly ascended into leadership, reaching the rank of Chief Warrant Officer in 10 years. During his career, he served in numerous assignments, including a tour as a Parris Island drill instructor, Program Officer for Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s revamped Close Combat Program (MCMAP), and Director of the Combat Visual Information Center. Shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks, as he prepared to deploy to Afghanistan with the 1st Marine Division, Gillums suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury, ending his military career at age 29. During his military career, he earned two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and a Global War on Terror Service Medal.

Gillums has testified before Congress on veterans’ benefits and disability issues and has published numerous articles on veteran unemployment. He has been a frequent speaker and spokesperson on veteran employment and disability topics for PVA in radio and television media. Active in his community, Gillums supports the Prince William Chamber Veterans Council and local efforts to support disabled veterans, including a faith-based veterans outreach ministry. He resides in Gainesville, Virginia with his wife Tammie and their children.

Kenneth Lee, MD
Chief of Spinal Cord Injury Division
Zablocki VA Medical Center

Dr. Lee is the Chief of Spinal Cord Injury Division at Zablocki VA Medical Cetnter, Milwaukee WI and Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Lee joined the Army in 1986 and currently holds the rank of Colonel in the Wisconsin Army National Guard with the duty assignment of State Surgeon.

As an Iraqi war veteran, Dr. Lee’s personal history provides a strong connection to the Veterans he serves. In November of 2003, while stationed in Iraq as commander of a Wisconsin Army National Guard medical battalion, Dr. Lee was severely injured in a Baghdad car bombing. Dr. Lee was MEDEVAC to Lahnstuhl, Germany for his initial care and then transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He sustained multiple schrapnel and traumatic brain injury during this incident. For his military service, Dr. Lee was awarded the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, and an Army Achievement Medal.

In addition to his military and medical services, Dr. Lee participates in numerous community activities. He is the National Surgeon for the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He also serves as the Medical Director for the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and National Veterans Sports and Wellness Program. And, he is part of the national physician team for the Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. For his community and military service, Dr. Lee was awarded the Milwaukee County Veteran of the Year Award in 2008.




Faculty Disclosure

Faculty for this activity have been required to disclose all relationships with any proprietary entity producing health care goods or services, with the exemption of non-profit or government organizations and non-health care related companies.

No significant financial relationships with commercial entities were disclosed by:

Laura J. Bauer, MPA, Faculty
Shelly R. Brown, MEd, Course Coordinator
Susan Charlifue, PhD FACRM, Faculty
Allen (Al) Condeluci, PhD, Faculty
Chaplain (MAJOR) Lucy Der-Garabedian, MS, Faculty
COL (RET) Derek Donovan, MS, Faculty
BG (RET) Rick D. Gibbs, MS Faculty
Sherman Gillums, Jr., MS, Faculty
Kenneth Lee, MD, Faculty
COL Paul F. Pasquina, MD, Course Director

The following information was disclosed:

Rory Cooper, PhD, Course Director. Patent Agreements: AT Sciences; Three Rivers Holdings

CME Accreditation and Designation Statement 

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Center for Rehabilitation Science Research at the Uniformed Services University for the Health Science.  The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 7.0 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Each physician should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Other health care professionals are awarded 0.7 continuing education units (CEU's) which are equal to 7.0 contact hours.

Disclaimer Statement

The information presented at this CME program represents the views and opinions of the individual presenters, and does not constitute the opinion or endorsement of, or promotion by, the UPMC Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences, UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Medical Center or Affiliates and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Reasonable efforts have been taken intending for educational subject matter to be presented in a balanced, unbiased fashion and in compliance with regulatory requirements. However, each program attendee must always use his/her own personal and professional judgment when considering further application of this information, particularly as it may relate to patient diagnostic or treatment decisions including, without limitation, FDA-approved uses and any off-label uses.