Early Career



The Early Career Networking Group (ECNG) will help with many challenging aspects of career development, such as:

  • Preparing for job interviews, negotiating faculty positions or preparing for promotion and tenure
  • Improving your grant writing skills, learning about grant mechanisms for new investigators, and how to get published
  • Networking with renowned leaders in the field, or finding collaborative opportunities within a variety of rehabilitation disciplines
  • How to become a more active and recognized member within ACRM

The ECNG seeks to provide assistance with all of these common career development challenges. Networking group members will work together to share relevant announcements, resources, professional contacts, mentorship support, and informative discussions.

Meeting & mentoring is nonstop at ACRM

ACRM = NONSTOP mentoring & networking. Click for picts from 2016 ACRM Conference

Early Career professionals imageEarly Career Reception imageEarly Career Reception image

2018 Call for Proposals

ACRM Annual Conference Call for Proposals

The Program Committee invites proposals focused on research evidence and its translation into clinical practice for presentation at the ACRM 2018 Annual Conference in Dallas.



The mission of the Early Career Networking Group (ECNG) is to foster the development and advancement of early career professionals in the field of rehabilitation. We work together to tackle many of the common career development challenges. Our supportive network of peers provides the necessary resources and networking opportunities to promote successful career growth for rehabilitation researchers and clinicians.

How to Participate

Now is the perfect time to join this important networking group and help shape its growth. Participate in one of our existing task forces or suggest a new one!

  • Early Career Development Course Task Force
  • Communications Task Force
  • Physicians Task Force

It is cliché, but true that as an early career professional, you are the future of rehabilitation and ACRM. Getting involved with the ECNG now is a worthwhile investment in that future – whether you are early or late in your career.


Career Development Task Force Opportunity

  • Build your CV
  • Make a meaningful difference
  • You are warmly invited to join us...

WHO? early career and mid-career members

WHAT?  Join the Early Career Development Course Task Force and actively participate in the planning of the 2018 Early Career Development Course (program qualifies for CEUs).

HOW? Please contact Terri Compos (ACRM Community Relations Manager) for access to the monthly teleconference meetings & learn how to get involved.

LEARN MORE about the Early Career Development Course >>



“How does ACRM Help You?"

Douglas Katz, MD, FACRM, FAAN
Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital


How to Join the ECNG

One of the most valuable benefits of ACRM membership is the opportunity to participate in the many interdisciplinary special interest groups (ISIG) and networking groups.

Click the JOIN NOW button to learn more or contact Member Services at +1.703.435.5335 for personal assistance.


Contact the Early Career Networking Group Chair, Megan Mitchell, PhD to learn more about this group or to become more specifically involved in a task force.

Early Career Networking Group Flyer


Early Career Outstanding Mentoring Award

The Early Career Outstanding Mentoring Award was established in 2016 to honor those who have significantly contributed through mentoring to the development of early career rehabilitation professionals, the Early Career Development Course and the Early Career Networking Group’s Mentoring Task Force.

2017 Awardee

image: Theresa Louise-Bender Pape

Dr. Theresa Pape

The Early Career Networking Group is pleased to recognize Theresa Pape, DrPH, MA, CCC-SLP/L, FACRM, with the 2017 Early Career Outstanding Mentoring Award.

Dr. Theresa Pape is a Clinical Neuroscientist with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at Hines VA Research Service and an Associate Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. After earning her Master’s degree in speech-language pathology, Dr. Pape earned her doctorate of public health (Dr. PH). Dr. Pape was awarded a NIDRR Merit Switzer fellowship and then received three consecutive Career Development Awards with VA RR&D Service. During these training awards Dr. Pape built her expertise in neurorehabilitation effectiveness, measurement, and outcomes. Dr. Pape’s effectiveness research reflects a synthesis of her pre and post-doctoral training and her clinical experiences in TBI and focuses on developing robust yet customizable rehabilitation interventions that induce, facilitate, and/or shape neural plasticity of the injured brain to enhance functional recovery after TBI.

Past Recipients

2016: Ralph Nitkin, PhD



ECNG Executive Committee

Brooks WingoChair: Brooks Wingo, PhD
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL
Megan MitchellPast Chair: Megan Mitchell, PhD
Biomedical Engineer
Kansas City, KS
Monique Pappadis
Chair: Monique Renae Pappadis, MEd, PhD
University of Texas Medical Branch
LinkedIn Profile

ECNG Resources & Information Newsletter

One of the great benefits of joining the ECNG is the quarterly newsletter of early career resources and information. Check out the current issue and join the ECNG Membership to get involved and start receiving the information you need to advance your rehabilitation research career.

Read the Current Issue >>>

2017 Issues

2016 Issues

2015 Issues

Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award Supported by CARF International


Deborah Wilkerson

Deborah L. Wilkerson

The Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award Supported by CARF International is an award given by ACRM to Early Career Professionals who are making significant contributions in the field of rehabilitation. Recipients receive a plaque, monetary award, travel stipend, complimentary registration, and an opportunity to present at the ACRM Annual Conference. Learn more.


Congratulations to the 2016 Awardee

Yelena Goldin

Yelena Goldin

In 2016, ACRM honors Yelena Goldin, PhD for the significant contributions she has made during her early career work. Dr. Goldin will present Attention Network Functions in Adults With Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury during the ACRM 93rd Annual Conference in Chicago where she will receive her award.



Beth Skidmore image

Beth Skidmore (center); Tamara Bushnik, ACRM President; and Wayne Gordon, Awards Committee Chair

“Receiving the Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award is a great honor. I highly value the scientific and clinical community within the Congress, and receiving recognition from this esteemed group of scientists and professionals is humbling and rewarding.”

–Elizabeth Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L, Associate Professor School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh


image: Angelle Sander

Angelle Sander

“Receiving the Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award was the most cherished honor that I have had in my career. This is because it was awarded by people in the field of rehabilitation that I truly respect and admire. I know that the Wilkerson awardees are carefully chosen to represent the spirit of Deb Wilkerson, who was a role model in providing holistic rehabilitation services and conducting meaningful research. Receipt of this award meant that my research was perceived as making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities, which is the greatest honor one can receive.”

Angelle Sander, PhD, FACRM, Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

“Building Leaders in Rehabilitation Research"

Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, PhD, CBIST, FACRM
Brain Trauma Foundation

Early Career Development Course

The Early Career Development Course is a perennial favorite developed by the ACRM Early Career Networking Group. It provides an ideal venue for connecting with seasoned professionals who can answer your questions and guide you on your path to success.

With particular focus on career development issues relevant to early career researchers, this full-day program preceding the ACRM Annual Conference, comprises didactic presentation, panel discussion, one-on-one networking, and small group discussions. All up-and-coming rehabilitation research professionals are encouraged to attend.

2016 THEME

The 2016 program theme, Team Science, will focus on helping attendees develop their research identity while forming collaborative relationships and teams, enhancing team communication, preventing conflicts, giving and sharing credit in publications and grants, balancing individual and team pursuits for tenure and promotion and increasing productivity.


Michael Boninger

Michael Boninger

Edelle Field-Fote

Edelle Field-Fote

Michael Boninger, MD and Edelle Field-Fote, PhD, PT, will kick-off the course with Perils, Pitfalls and Possibilities: What to Look Out for in Your Early Career.

Dr. Boninger is director of the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute and author of five US patents. He is renowned for his extensive research on spinal cord injury, assistive technology, and overuse injuries, particularly those associated with manual wheelchair propulsion.

Dr. Field-Fote is a leading neuroscientist and director of spinal cord injury research at Shepherd Center. She is internationally renowned for her work in motor recovery after spinal cord injury.

Learn More about the 2016 Early Career Development Course >>


Early Career Development Course Testimonial by Valerie Hill


Get Involved in Exciting Task Forces!


Early Career Networking Group image

From left to right, Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, Dawn Neumann, Brad Kurowski

All task forces conduct regular monthly or bi-monthly meetings via conference calls. Please contact the designated task force chair for more information about meeting times and getting involved.

Reza Ehsanian

Early Career Development Course Task Force

Chair: Reza Ehsanian, MD, PhD
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

This task force plans the full-day Early Career Development Course held each fall at the ACRM Annual Conference. Last year, the course focused on grantsmanship, with particular emphasis on career development and pilot /small project funding mechanisms.

Alison Cogan

Communications Task Force

Chair: Alison Cogan, PhD, OTR/L
Washington DC VA Medical Center
LinkedIn Profile

This task force gathers important announcements and information relevant to career development in the rehabilitation field and disseminates them through social media, eblasts, ACRM newsletters and the website. This includes information on grant resources and grant writing, job interviewing tips, work/ life balance, tips for promotion and tenure, getting started with research, initiating collaborations, finding good mentors and more. This task force also develops communications to help promote the ECNG and recruit members.

Megan Mitchell

Mentoring / Advising Task Force

Chair: Megan Mitchell, PhD
Biomedical Engineer

The mission of this task force is to facilitate the development of mentoring relationships among rehabilitation professionals at varying stages in their career development through research, educational, and clinical collaborative opportunities. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact the co-chairs.