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2015 Board of Governors Candidate Statements


Candidates for President-Elect

For the position of ACRM President-Elect, the nominees are:

  • Deborah Backus, PT, PhD, FACRM
  • Angela Colantonio, PhD, OT. Reg. (Ont.)


Deborah Backus, PhD, FACRMDeborah Backus, PT, PhD, FACRM
Director of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research
Shepherd Center

I am honored to be nominated for President Elect and would be delighted to work in this capacity for ACRM. The mission to advance rehabilitation science through collaborative, multidisciplinary research and education aligns so closely with my own that ACRM has been my primary professional organization since I attended my first ACRM annual conference in 2004.

Over the past 29 years I have worked in both clinical and academic settings. As a clinician I gained insights that inform my research and strengthen my ability to engage clinicians in the research process. My PhD training gave me an appreciation of basic science research and the need for effective communication between clinicians and researchers to move rehabilitation science forward. Bringing the skills I gained through these experiences to the presidency will help me engage clinicians and researchers to strengthen ACRM’s position as a leader in rehabilitation medicine.

When I finished my dissertation I elected to forgo a post-doc position for a PT faculty position. The experience of building a research agenda as a PT and neuroscientist with no post-doctoral training helped me learn the importance of good mentorship. I have used what I learned from these experiences to develop mentorship opportunities in the American PT Association as co-founder of the Early Career Researchers Special Interest Group (SIG), as a member of the ACRM Early Career Networking Group (NG) (2010-2012), and for mentoring clinicians interested in research at Shepherd. If elected I will work with the Board of Governors (BOG) and membership to help empower clinicians and researchers who will define the future of rehabilitation medicine and research.

Having worked in spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation and research for 20+ years, engaging in the SCI international ISIG during my first two years in ACRM happened naturally (2005-2008). As chair of the SCI ISIG for 4 years (2009-2013) I played a key role in developing annual conference programming and initiatives promoting SCI evidence-based rehabilitation worldwide. Now working in the MS field I have realized that clinicians and researchers in neurodegenerative disease fields might value from the opportunities within ACRM. In 2012 I started the Neurodegenerative Diseases (ND) NG, and am currently chair of the growing group of rehabilitation and research professionals focused on improving the lives of people with MS, Parkinson’s disease, ALS and Alzheimer’s disease. I am involved in an initiative between the ND NG, SCI ISIG, and the American College of Sports Medicine to promote exercise in people with disability. These experiences enhance my ability as a leader to build alliances with other groups and strengthen ACRM’s national and international presence.

ACRM is a diverse community of individuals comprising several special interest groups and committees. As a member of the Program and Communications Committees for the past 6 years (2009-2015) I have gotten to know more about these groups and their missions. Serving on the ACRM BOG as an Ex-Officio member (2009-2013) and member-at-large (2013-present) has given me a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the BOG, and how we work together to govern ACRM. If elected, I will work to spark ideas and harness the energy to promote partnerships among the different ACRM communities and to increase the value of ACRM membership for its constituents. I will work together with the ACRM BOG and staff to facilitate mechanisms for collaborative research and dissemination to influence evidence-based practice and policy. If elected President Elect I will bring my enthusiasm, passion and energy for ACRM to strengthen our position as the preeminent organization for the advancement of rehabilitation science.


Angela ColantonioAngela Colantonio, PhD, OT, Reg. (Ont.), FACRM
CIHR Research Chair in Gender Work and Health
Professor, Depts of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Rehabilitation Science Institute, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Team leader, ABI and Society Team

I am truly honoured to have been asked to consider the role of President Elect of the ACRM.

I have extensive experience with ACRM for over 15 years. As chair of the international committee, I facilitated our first conference in Toronto which set the record for the most attendees. This led to biannual conferences in Canada which continue to grow in size and program diversity. I had the privilege of serving on the ACRM Board of Governors during a time of spectacular growth. During this time I championed a position for an early career member on our board and would continue to address the needs of our young members. I bring extensive experience in working collaboratively with stakeholders including consumers, who are well represented in the Girls and Women with Acquired Brain Injury task force that I co-lead.

My interdisciplinary leadership and research has been recognized with numerous national and international awards including 2 research chairs and Fellow status from the ACRM. I received my B.Sc. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Toronto and my PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University. I have held academic appointments in both the United States and Canada. I have over 200 publications and led over 60 funded interdisciplinary research projects. I have attracted funds from the most competitive funding agencies in North America. I believe that we should work towards creating more synergies among our funding agencies to make the case for rehabilitation research.

Never has it been more important to come together across borders to advocate for the health and well being of the persons we serve. I believe we are entering a golden era for the rehabilitation field as our research and practice addresses increasing numbers of persons living with disability worldwide. I would be grateful for the opportunity to serve as President with the goal of taking the ACRM to the next level as an international organization.


Candidates for ACRM Secretary

For the position of ACRM Secretary, the nominees are:

  • Jennifer Bogner, PhD, ABPP, FACRM
  • Pamela Roberts, PhD, OTR/L, SCFES, FAOTA, CPHQ, FNAP


Dr. Jennifer BognerJennifer Bogner, PhD, ABPP, FACRM
Professor and Vice-Chair of Research and Academic Affairs
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Ohio State University

I would like to serve ACRM in the role of Secretary of the Board of Governors. For the past several years I have served on the Board of Governors as a Member-at-Large, and as such have worked to represent the needs of ACRM members. As Secretary, I would expand my service by maintaining and updating the ACRM Policies and Procedures Manual and Bylaws, and by assisting with tracking progress toward the achievement of ACRM initiatives. These documents are used to guide the everyday work of the organization and help maintain focus on ACRM’s goals and mission.

I have been a member of ACRM since 2002. I am a member of the Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group (BI-ISIG) and the Measurement Networking Group, and I am currently serving as the BI-ISIG Chair-Elect. I have been heavily involved with ACRM’s Membership Committee for several years, initially serving as a member, then as Co-Chair and Chair, and now as the liaison for the BI-ISIG. The Membership Committee plays a critical role in assisting ACRM management to maintain and grow membership by helping to ensure that the needs of the membership are understood and being addressed.

In terms of my professional background, I am a Professor and Vice-Chair of Research and Academic Affairs in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Ohio State University.  As a board-certified rehabilitation psychologist, I have worked in field of rehabilitation for nearly 25 years. I am also the Co-Project Director of the Ohio Regional TBI Model Systems and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. I have led or co-led multiple investigations primarily focused on behavioral and emotional regulation, community participation, and the effects of a lifetime history of traumatic brain injury.

ACRM represents all that I value in the rehabilitation field—collaboration between professionals from a range of disciplines, countries, and stages of career to accomplish the goal of discovering and implementing the best rehabilitation practices to optimize outcomes for persons with disabling conditions.

If elected Secretary, I believe that I can help further the purpose and mission of the ACRM.


Dr. Pamela Roberts

Pamela Roberts, PhD, OTR/L, SCFES, FAOTA, CPHQ, FNAP

I am honored to be nominated for the position of Secretary. I have developed an appreciation for the BOGs role and the importance of leadership to ensure a comprehensive and consistent governing process throughout 16 years of ACRM membership. I have progressively increased my involvement with ACRM. I initially joined a Stroke Networking group conference call and before I knew it, had identified a gap which led me to start the Vision Task Force while simultaneously becoming the secretary of the Stroke Networking group. As a member of the Stroke Executive Committee, I was a core member charged with developing the Bylaws and other foundation documents to become an ISIG. In 2013, I was elected Stroke ISIG Chair Elect. Throughout my involvement in the Stroke Networking and now ISIG, growth is evident with nonstop stroke programming. This led to becoming a Program Committee member and subsequently Program Committee Chair elect in 2013 and Chair in 2014. My experiences with the Stroke ISIG and Program Committee demonstrate my exceptional organizational skills which is essential for the position of secretary. Additionally, my experience in administration, teaching, service, advocacy, research, and policy shape my leadership perspective and demonstrate the broad range of qualifications that I can bring to this position.

I have gained a unique dual understanding of clinical and academic arenas through my education and professional experiences. I received my BS in OT from Washington University, MS in Healthcare Administration from California State University-Northridge, and PhD in Health Sciences from Touro University. Professionally, I am the Program Director of PM&R at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where I oversee strategic planning, quality, regulatory, education, and research activities. Part of my responsibilities is to provide leadership by chairing hospital-wide initiatives and developing mechanisms for dissemination through quality and research initiatives. Additionally, I teach courses at USC and a surveyor in both the rehabilitation community and specialty professional accreditation. These experiences have provided me the ability to successfully lead a variety of endeavors of varying magnitude.

I am honored to have served in a variety of professional organizations, addressing policy issues and advocating for rehabilitation services. This work involved meeting and interacting with executives, physicians, payers, CMS, NQF and other policy makers. I was the inaugural Chair of the California Hospital Association (CHA) Center for Medical Rehabilitation and held the first Rehabilitation voting seat on the CHA’s Board of Trustees. Through CHA, I have coordinated strategies on health care issues especially related to post-acute care and participated and provided input on various federal demonstration projects. Further, I have participated in a variety of TEPs and currently involved in the NQF Membership Applications Partnership on Quality and the All Cause Admissions and Readmissions Steering Committee.

I have been fortunate to be involved in ACRM during a time of growth and what I perceive to be increased communication and visibility among the rehabilitation interprofessional community. The process of participating in ACRM has provided me increased exposure to, and familiarity with the broader research and clinical community. Doing so allows me to bridge the gap between practice and research.

Overall, I believe that I have a comprehensive understanding of practice, administration, accreditation, education and research that has developed over 30 years which enhances my qualifications for ACRM secretary. If given the opportunity to move towards this leadership position, I will strive to meet the needs of the interprofessional rehabilitation research community. Thank you for considering me to represent you as Secretary on the ACRM Board of Governors.



Candidates for ACRM Member-At-Large

For the two open positions of ACRM Member-At-Large, the nominees are:

  • Ahmed M. AboAbat, BScPT, MHA, PhD
  • Fofi Constantinidou, PhD, FACRM, FASHA
  • Patricia Cristine Heyn, PhD
  • Jeanne M. Hoffman, PhD, ABPP
  • James T. McDeavitt, MD
  • Virginia Mills, MS, PT, CCM, Licensed NHA, FACRM



Ahmed AboAbatAhmed M. AboAbat, BScPT, MHA, PhD
Rehabilitation Consultant

I am Ahmed Aboabat, ACRM Member, and I am interested in serving as an ACRM Board of Governors Member-at-Large. Although my experience with ACRM is relatively short but my experience was exceptional. I realize ACRM is one of the best venues guided me to improve the services in my country through meeting a group of professionals with interests and passions similar to mine.

In early 2003, I got the chance to meet the high authority at the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) to introduce the concept of acute rehabilitation services. It was my honored to be the founder of the Rehabilitation Hospital of King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) which launched in April 2004. To empower my administrative skills in the field of hospital and health administration, I earned master degree in health administration in 2008. During the master I have focused in developing the MOH rehabilitation services strategy which has been eventually officially adopted.

Currently I am an advisor to the deputy minister of MOH in the field of rehabilitation aiming to establishing additional rehabilitation services and promote the quality of the services provided. Furthermore, I am extremely honored to be part of the team worked hard to obtain the approval to establish four rehabilitation hospitals (100 beds capacity) in different regions of Saudi Arabia.

With all challenges, I led the KFMC team to achieve the CARF accreditation in 2010 as the first accredited hospital in the region. In the same year I was nominated to be a CARF surveyor and started my first survey in 2012.

As a part of the advocacy toward prevention of disability and promote the acute rehabilitation in Saudi Arabia, I have established two major outreach programs in two regions with high incidents of disability due to road traffic accidents (RTAs). Also I am an advisor for the largest campaign for Road Traffic Accident Prevention. This requires me to participate in different media programs (some of them on live), and giving speeches to different levels of the community.

My academic activities were limited, I was lecturing at College of Medicine of KFMC teaching the rehab block for the students. Also, I was lecturing at College of Medicine of King Saud University teaching the resident in Family and Community Medicine resident. This gives me the opportunity to introduce the size of disability in Saudi Arabia and the importance of the acute rehabilitation to the futures leaders and physicians.

My research activities started during my post graduate studies at Salford University (UK 1996-2000) when I did the first national survey on spinal cord injuries. I have studies the effect of upright mobility on the bone density which eventually led to proposing a score that enable the healthcare providers to identify SCI individuals at risk of fracture. I have continued the support for research through my leadership and encouraged staff to be enrolled in research. Lately I succeeded in achieving a fund from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology for a research to establish the Saudi norms health quality of life. I am the principal investigator of this national research project.

Nowadays, I am also serving as an executive director of patient affairs at King Fahad Medical City (in addition to my role at Rehabilitation Hospitals). It is 1200 beds capacity providing tertiary care. I am also trying to serve individuals with disability through converting the organization to be a disabled friendly environment.

In summary, I have and would like to continue to promoting the quality of rehabilitation services and serve individuals with disabilities by securing your vote as candidate for ACRM Board of Governors Member-at-Large.



Fofi ConstantinidouFofi Constantinidou, PhD, FACRM, FASHA

I am honored to be nominated for the position of Member-at-Large of ACRM. I believe my experiences within and outside ACRM have prepared me well for this new challenge and I am excited about the prospect to serve on the ACRM’s Board of Governors. I have been an active member for about 10 years. In 2005 I was encouraged by the late Mitchell Rosenthal to join the International Committee, of which I served as Chair between 2009-2012. Our committee’s application for upgrade to a networking group was successful, and the International Networking Group (ING) was established in 2012. I have had the honor to chair the ING since. Within two years our 16 member committee grew to an interdisciplinary group of about 200 members, represented by four dynamic task forces, serving as a bridge among many of the ACRM communities. We work systematically as ambassadors of ACRM to researchers and professionals in North America and around the world. Our efforts resulted in significant increases in the number of international presenters at ACRM conferences and in non-stop content at Dallas 2015. Furthermore, our International Brucker Luncheon became an ACRM conference tradition, featuring internationally known speakers in rehabilitation sciences.

Apart from serving the ING, I am a member of the Girls and Women with ABI Task Force (BI-SIG) and a past member of the Liaison Committee.  Other organizational leadership positions include the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the American Psychological Association Joint Committee (ASHA chair during my last term), vice-chair of the Cypriot Speech-Language Pathology Registration Council (two terms), member of the Management Committee of the European Union COST-ACTION on Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists, and Cypriot Delegate to the Standing Liaison Committee of E.U. Speech and Language Therapists and Logopedists (CPLOL). I was deeply honored to receive fellow of ACRM and of ASHA in 2014.

Upon completion of my doctoral studies in Communication Disorders at the University of Cincinnati (1995), I joined the faculty in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio where I achieved Full Professor. In 2006, after many years in the US, I moved back to my birth-country, Cyprus where I contributed to the establishment of research and clinical services for individuals with neurological disorders at the University of Cyprus.

Currently, I am Professor of Language Disorders and Neuropsychology and former chair, Department of Psychology. Additionally, I am the founding Director of the Center for Applied Neuroscience (CAN), University of Cyprus. CAN was established in 2010 after securing competitive funding to create a research center of strategic importance to the county with a focus on investigating human cognition and behavior ( The Center’s major research activities include systematic investigations of TBI, aging and dementia. My research teams are studying the epidemiology of TBI and dementia in Cyprus, the long-term effects of TBI on cognitive performance and brain morphology, and the effectiveness of systematic cognitive rehabilitation in individuals with TBI and in MCI. In 2013 I was awarded the Experienced Researcher Award by the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation for our work on cognitive aging.

The past 9 years working in Europe have provided valuable opportunities to interact with researchers and service providers from around the world, thus gaining a broader understanding of both the challenges and opportunities facing rehabilitation internationally. If elected, I will facilitate ACRM’s national and international agenda and promote collaboration with other relevant organizations to advance ACRM’s visibility and interdisciplinary research collaboration, while maintaining our commitment to the base membership. I look forward to having the opportunity to work for all of you in these critical areas.



Patricia Cristine HeynPatricia Cristine Heyn, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Research Associate
Center for Gait and Movement Analysis (CGMA) at Children’s Hospital Colorado
Research Associate
The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Advancing Technologies to Enhance Independence for Adults with Cognitive Impairments (RERC-ATACI)
Research Associate
Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome Research
School of Medicine
University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus

I am honored to be nominated for member-at-large on the ACRM Board of Governors. I have been a member of ACRM since 2003, and I remember well my first ACRM Annual Conference experience where I presented my research on the effects of exercise training on dementia at the NIDRR Fellows session. Presently, I am an associate professor at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I have a doctorate in Applied Exercise Physiology & Gerontology followed by two post-doctoral fellowships in 1) neurologic and disability rehabilitation research supported by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), and 2) geriatric medicine research with emphasis in clinical exercise trial and pharmacological studies supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH). My research interest is to understand the risk factors associated to development of early aging diseases in individuals with disabilities with a focus on the assessment and intervention of cognitive decline/dementia in individuals who are at higher risk for early secondary health conditions development due to a brain injury, stroke, Down syndrome, and other cognitive or physical disability. I joined the faculty of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2004 where I started an exciting cognitive and exercise research program. I also have unique expertise on how to synthesize and evaluate the quality of the evidence from clinical research studies. My meta-analysis, The effects of exercise training on elderly persons with cognitive impairment and dementia: a meta-analysis, [learn more] is recognized as the #1 Top 25 SciVerse ScienceDirect: Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Hottest Article.

Since I joined ACRM in 2003, I have been presenting my research at the annual meetings and have been actively involved in several committees, networking groups and task forces. I am currently the chair of the ACRM Measurement and Networking Group (MNG) Applied Cognition Task Force and participate keenly at the MNG executive meetings. The MNG Applied Cognition Task Force is comprised of two strong and dedicated workgroups aimed to identify applied cognition clinical research that needs evaluation and synthesis for rehabilitation research applications. The workgroups’ projects are in areas related to geriatric cognitive rehabilitation and TBI cognitive pharmacological research. In addition, I am a dynamic member of the ACRM Communications Committee, Neurodegenerative Diseases NG, and the Secondary Complications and Aging Task Force. My commitment to the ACRM together with my unique scientific contribution to the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation support my strong pledge to the rehabilitation field and therefore to ACRM . Due to my longevity as an ACRM member as well as my significant participation in important ACRM activities, I have gained unique insight about the ACRM. I am committed to continue making meaningful contributions to this organization and to the field of rehabilitation research; I would like the opportunity to do this as a voting Member-at-Large on the BOG. I feel that my qualifications, training, and professional experiences make me an excellent candidate for this important role.



Jeanne HoffmanJeanne M. Hoffman, PhD, ABPP
Associate Professor
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Associate Member, Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center University of Washington
Box 356490
Seattle, WA 98195-6490

It is an honor to be nominated to run for Member-at-Large on the ACRM Board of Governors. I have been a member of ACRM since 2004. I am excited to consider the opportunity to serve an organization whose mission matches my own – to promote health, independence, productivity, and quality of life for people with disabilities. I feel that my experience makes me an excellent candidate for this important role.

As of July, 2015, I am a professor in the UW School of Medicine in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. In this position, I have clinical, research and teaching responsibilities and in all of these get to work with an amazing group of multidisciplinary colleagues. I work as a clinical psychologist on the inpatient rehabilitation unit and outpatient rehabilitation clinic. I design and implement clinical research for individuals with traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury on a range of topics including chronic illness, pain and quality of life issues. I also have a strong interest in health services research examining access to healthcare for individuals with disability.

Finally, I provide training to pre and postdoctoral psychologists, medical students, resident physicians, and physical, occupational, and prosthetic/orthotic students who are focusing on the area of rehabilitation.

ACRM has provided an important platform for me to share information as well as to collaborate with colleagues nationally.  This work has extended my own experience working within my department with multidisciplinary treatment and research teams. I consider ACRM to my home organization and have presented at conferences almost annually since 2002. I have also had the opportunity to work within the organization over the years, well as through membership in the SCI-SIG.

I have appreciated the many opportunities I have had to interact with leaders in Rehabilitation Medicine research over time and would like to be able to contribute as a representative of the ACRM membership as an ACRM Board of Governors Member-at-Large. If I am elected, I plan to continue to work to advance the mission of ACRM to promote health, independence, productivity, and quality of life for people with a wide variety of neurological diagnoses.
Thank you for your consideration,
Jeanne Hoffman, PhD, ABPP



James McDeavittJames T. McDeavitt, MD
Professor & Chair
Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Dean of Clinical Affairs
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas

It is a great honor to be nominated to serve the ACRM as an at-large board member. Any of the nominees would serve the organization well. I believe I would bring three potential strengths to the board.

First, my various positions over the past 24 years have given me a fairly broad understanding of the complex dynamics of our evolving health system, and the important role rehabilitation should play in the emerging world.  I have been a treating physician, a teacher, a chair of two academic departments and have served in senior leadership roles for two large health systems. The variety of my experiences has helped to broaden my perspective.

Second, I have a great appreciation for the promise of real inter-professional education; to paraphrase the WHO definition: learning with, from and about other professions to enhance the quality of patient care.  For several years I had administrative responsibility for a health professions school, and currently work at a leading health sciences university. I am committed to the education of the next generation of rehabilitation providers.

Third, I have experience on other national governance boards (CARF, ACCME, American Board of PM&R). I understand the important fiduciary responsibility of a board member; it is a serious commitment. If elected, I will do my very best to add value to what is already a very strong leadership group at the ACRM.



Virginia MillsVirginia Mills, MS, PT, CCM, Licensed NHA, FACRM
Board Member of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Community Services, Brookline, MA
Consultant, Neurological Rehabilitation Associates, Wellesley, MA

I am pleased to be nominated for the position of Member-at-large on the ACRM Board of Governors. I have been involved and attending the ACRM annual meeting since the 1980s. During all these years, I believe I have only missed about 3 annual meetings. I was one of the founding members of the Brain Injury SIG and was an editor of the original newsletter. I served on many different committees in the ISIG through the years and was instrumental in writing the first set of guidelines used by CARF to develop their standards for surveys of programs for persons with brain injury. I have been on the conference planning committee two different times for a total of 10 years. I have been Conference Chair for the annual meeting three times, once in 1999 and again in 2009 and 2010.

I have this dedication to ACRM because I believe in ACRM’s interdisciplinary membership and goals to work together to improve the practice of rehabilitation around the world via research and evidence based practice.

I started my career as a physical therapist at Braintree Hospital where I worked my way up to being a Senior Vice-President. I, along with my colleagues, developed several neurorehabilitation programs of excellence in stroke and brain injury. I also planned and organized the annual Braintree Conference with my colleagues Preston Harley, PhD and Doug Katz, MD. I was also trained and served as a CARF surveyor for several years.

I left Braintree, and in 1996 I founded Community Rehab Care, Inc., (CRC) an outpatient neurorehabilitation program in the greater Boston Area. CRC grew and and became well known as a high quality provider of outpatient rehabilitation services. I was President and CEO of CRC until 2013 when I sold my majority interest in CRC to start a new journey in my consulting career. I have since joined the Board at the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Community Services in Brookline, Massachusetts. I have served on several other boards through my career including the New England Physical Therapy Network and Neurobehavioral Healthcare Systems, Ltd.

I feel I have contributed to ACRM throughout my career and I look forward to possibly having the opportunity to continue to contribute to the organization at a Board level.