Praxis Spinal Cord Institute Adds Five Leaders to Board

New directors reflect commitment to diversity and inclusion, bring health care, community, governance, and finance expertise

Vancouver, BC, June 27, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- VANCOUVER, BC – June 27, 2023 – The appointment of five new members to the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute Board of Directors brings outstanding experience in advocacy, clinical research, communications and governance to the board.

Dr. Kim Anderson-Erisman, Joel Dembe, David Estrada, Benveet “Bean” Gill, and Dr. Ian Walker will join the nine current directors. Their oversight and experience strengthens our impact, focusing our unique Praxis model on engaging with people with lived experience of spinal cord injury (SCI). This is essential in setting priorities for meaningful research and innovation that reflect the needs of the SCI community for better quality of life.

“Praxis is delighted to welcome five new Directors to its Board this year. Between them, they bring many years of experience and inclusive philosophies. We are excited that they are willing to share this with the Institute as we seek to improve the lives of people with spinal cord injury within Canada and beyond. Partnerships and engagement with our network are essential to how we work; collaboration drives our impact and we're grateful to our Board of Directors in guiding this mission.

 – Bill Barrable, CEO Praxis Spinal Cord Institute

Praxis would also like to thank our retiring board directors, Dr. Ian Rigby and Shari Hughson who step down as Chair and Vice Chair respectively; we thank them for their long and diligent service. We thank Jeff Charpentier, Dr. Kristine Cowley, and Dr. Christine Sang, who also complete their terms this June. Their oversight and guidance have been instrumental in our work.

Praxis is a Vancouver, BC-based not-for-profit organization that leads global collaboration in spinal cord injury research, innovation, and care. We accelerate the translation of discoveries and best practices into improved treatments for people with spinal cord injuries. Our board makes a significant contribution to the Institute, and board members ensure that the organization adheres to strict governance and guidelines for nonprofits operating in Canada. They help Praxis engage with the SCI community to establish priorities in translating research and innovation into meaningful improvements in the lives of Canadians living with SCI.

New Board Member Biographies
Dr. Kim Anderson-Erisman, Staff Scientist and Professor, CWRU School of Medicine; Cleveland, OH
Dr. Anderson-Erisman is a Professor at the MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine.  Her research focuses on bridging the gap between basic science, clinical science, and the spinal cord injury (SCI) community, addressing issues important to people living with SCI. She is currently the Director of the Northeast Ohio Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System of Care, and was a co-founder and the inaugural President of the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium.

Joel Dembe Senior Manager, Corporate Communications RBC; Hamilton, ON
Joel Dembe is a Paralympian and strategic communications advisor. As Canada’s top-ranked wheelchair tennis player, he represented the country at the Paralympics and won our first international medal in wheelchair tennis (2015 Toronto Pan-American Games). He is also co-Chair of RBC Reach, an advisory group for clients and employees with disabilities, and a frequent media contributor on accessibility and inclusion.

David Estrada, Program Manager at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital; Weston, MA 
David Estrada is a licensed attorney, real estate broker & entrepreneur. He brings more than 25 years of experience in the criminal justice field, specifically in media relations with the Boston Police Department. As Program Manager for New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, he coordinates studies and programs for persons with disabilities. He’s an experienced communicator and has been active on the boards of non-profit organizations focused on providing programs & services to persons with spinal cord injury/disease.

Benveet “Bean” Gill, Public Speaker, Model of Diversity, Wheelchair Pageant Queen, Entrepreneur; Edmonton, AB
Following a sudden onset of paralysis from the waist down, Bean Gill has advocated and broken down barriers for people and people of colour living with disabilities. She is co-founder of ReYu Paralysis Recovery Center - a non-profit wellness center that inspires, motivates, and promotes recovery with increased function. She’s received Top 40 Under 40, RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur, and Global’s Woman of Vision awards, is the reigning Miss Wheelchair Canada, and was listed by Mattel as one of Canada's top 60 inspiring women as part of Barbie's 60th Anniversary.

Dr. Ian Walker Emergency Physician; Calgary, AB  
Dr. Walker has previously served as Director of Admissions for the Cumming School of Medicine and as Chief of Emergency Medicine at Foothills Medical Centre.  Currently, he is the Medical Director for EMS in Calgary and a member of the council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, where he serves as Chair of the Medical Facilities Accreditation Committee.

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