For the Office of President-Elect
Dr. Rebecca Sametz, Ph.D., CRC, LPC, ETS is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Masters of Science Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). Dr. Sametz obtained her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Rehabilitation Counselor Education; her dual Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from Western Michigan University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Sametz is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), and certified Employment Training Specialist (ETS). Previously, Dr. Sametz worked at a non-profit as a Youth Career Development Specialist in which she partnered with local school districts in order to provide youth with disabilities community work experiences who were preparing for transition from school to work. In this role, she also provided career counseling and exploration services to youth with disabilities, job placement and development services, and disability education to employers who served as a placement site for youth with disabilities in understanding the disability and low-cost accommodations. The types of disabilities that the youth were commonly diagnosed with were learning disabilities; more specifically, dyslexia, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), language processing disorder, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Also, Dr. Sametz worked for the State of Michigan’s agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired providing career counseling and exploration services for adults and youth with disabilities, as well as served as a job placement and job developer. Dr. Sametz is the past-president of the National Rehabilitation Association Job Placement and Development Division (NRAJPD), and serves on the National Rehabilitation Association (NRA) Executive Committee and on the NRA Board as the NRAJPD representative.
Dr. Sametz would like to lead NRA in becoming sustainable through sponsorships and revenue generated through conferences and workshops. Further, Dr. Sametz would like to assist NRA in becoming more active in communities across the nation through the use of NRA Ambassadors. As a leader, Dr. Sametz strives for transparency and investment through inclusion of others who are interested in getting involved. Further, Dr. Sametz believes in process mentoring new leaders into the field of rehabilitation. Holding such a position would bestow opportunities to young leaders entering the field to become more involved in NRA, and bring fresh insights to the association.
Courtney Sweatman is the Chief Financial Officer at Phoenix, an Alabama based, large non-profit servicing individuals with disabilities since 1973. She obtained her Master's degree from The University of Alabama in Huntsville and completed her CPA certification shortly thereafter. While she loves crunching numbers and performing what-if scenarios, she also manages the Human Resources, Information Technology, and Cyber Security teams.
During her career, she has accomplished many major tasks. One being her role in uncovering fraudulent transactions and working to implement processes and procedures to improve the organization’s internal controls, reducing the opportunity for future fraud attempts. A second major accomplishment was her diligent efforts in bringing the organization’s retirement plan into compliance with federal regulations. Finally, she was able to eliminate redundant processes and reduce data entry errors by implementing a new HRIS system which included a flexible payroll engine customized to perform the organization’s complex payroll computations.
Working at Phoenix, she has developed a passion for advocating for individuals with disabilities. She is always looking for ways to serve the community though organizations who support this demographic, including serving as a Board Member of the Alabama Rehabilitation Association and Chairman of the Board for EPIC, a Madison city based day center.
Courtney and her husband, Adam, grew up in the small town of Grant. In 2014, they decided to move to the “big city” of Huntsville. Since Adam teaches and coaches at a local middle school, they can usually be found at the ballpark on the weekends. If not there, you can find them strolling through their neighborhood with pups, Jacob and Akela leading the way.
Kyle Walker was born in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. During his childhood his family relocated to Northern New Mexico where he grew up on the Navajo Reservation. Kyle graduated from Utah State University with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Kyle is a nationally Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, a Certified Public Manager, and has received numerous awards during his career including the 2014 Utah Governor’s Award for Excellence in Leadership.
Kyle began his professional career with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation where he worked for 16 years in various capacities including as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Counseling Supervisor, District Director, Regional Director, Client Services Director, Administrative Services Director, and as the Director of the Utah Division of Rehabilitation Services. Kyle was actively engaged in the Utah Rehabilitation Association serving on the board for several years and as President in 2002, 2004, and 2009.
Kyle and his wife Linda grew tired of snow, so they began looking for work in “Famously Hot” Columbia South Carolina. Kyle was appointed as Director of the Division of Consumer Services within the South Carolina Commission for the Blind in 2015. While in South Carolina Kyle was appointed to serve on the State Advisory Counsel for the Education of Students with Disabilities.
Having grown nostalgic for snow, Kyle and Linda relocated to Menomonie Wisconsin in January of 2019 where he serves as the Executive Director of the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Kyle is passionate about the rehabilitation profession and ensuring that highly qualified professionals are utilizing evidence-based practices to provide outstanding and effective services that help people with disabilities to maximize their independence, self-sufficiency, and embark on meaningful careers.
For the Office of Secretary
Brenda Cruz is currently the Transition Specialist for Jordan School District in the State of Utah. She has over 10 years of experience supporting services that promote independence and employment for persons with disabilities. She holds a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and has held her CRC certification since 2013. She has a passion for incorporating technology into transition activities for students, to help them stay engaged while learning essential skills needed for their careers. Her knowledge of technology and willingness to learn, would make her a great candidate for the secretary position to the National Rehabilitation Association.
Her work experience includes a Special Education teacher and now Transition Specialist for Jordan School District. Previously she has worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in Texas and Utah, and a program specialist for DSPD and DSBVI which required maintaining budgets, reports, and data to comply with federal and state standards.
Community and Professional Affiliations:
March 2018 to Present: International Association for Rehabilitation Professionals
June 2018 to Present: National Rehabilitation Association
June 2014 to Sept 2017: Deaf-Blind Advisory Committee for the State of Utah
April 2011 to May 2013: Texas Rehab Action Network
My name is Leah Spivey and I have a Master's Degree from the University of Massachusetts - Boston in Rehabilitation Counseling and hold a CRC. I have worked with people with barriers to employment for 7+ years and have placed over 125 people in careers that meet their employment, hour and wage goals. I have also assisted my teams with over 300 additional placements.
I joined the MRA this past year when I moved to Maryland and was hired by DORS/Office of Blindness and Vision Services. Before that I was in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and was an active member of CESP and ACRE and received both of these certifications.
I have volunteered to be on committees to help host the MRA Conference this year. In the past I have worked on boards for NSACA, MSACA, which involved writing and reviewing policy, organizing conferences, and choosing presenters for a variety of events.
I also have a history of volunteering for the local animal shelter and an activities association for youth with barriers to main stream sports and activities; these all took place in Massachusetts. While I was an undergraduate I also volunteered with Pro Musica Rara, here in Baltimore.
It is my passion for advocacy and working with individuals to become as independent as they are capable of being that pushes me on in this field. This is what I am looking to bring forth to the committee.
For the Office of Board Member at Large
I respectfully request your vote to serve as Board Member-at-Large for this great National Rehabilitation Association. For the past 12 years, I have been a rehabilitation counselor educator at Northern Illinois University, Penn State Abington, and The University of Alabama. I have also worked as a private sector rehabilitation consultant in the insurance industry just prior to beginning my doctoral studies at The Pennsylvania State University. I joined NRA when I was beginning my master’s program at Springfield College (MA) back in 1997 and was content to be a passive recipient of the Association’s benefits. The urge to serve NRA grew exponentially each year until I finally served as Board Member-at-Large during the 2015 – 2017 calendar years. My focus at that time was to fulfill my fiduciary responsibilities and assist the Association with their communication needs. I am fortunate to have served on the Executive Committee, Social Media Committee, Governmental Affairs Committee, various sub-committees, and briefly helped to coordinate NRA webinars. In addition, I have been serving on the editorial board of the Journal of Rehabilitation for 11 years. If elected, I plan to direct my efforts at broadening the Association to true national status. Specifically, I would work to bring national training opportunities to all areas of the country. Travel to national conferences is often out of reach for many members. However, my intention is to find a way for the NRA to support more state and regional professional developmental opportunities. Finally, many rehabilitation professionals are not represented by chapter or region. Therefore, my desire is to work to ensure that each state has a chapter and that each region is represented on the NRA Board. A coast-to-coast National Rehabilitation Association could potentially realize its potential to advocate for ALL persons with disabilities.
Christina Dillanunt Aspillaga
Christina (Tina) Dillahunt-Aspillaga received her PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Florida. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), a Certified Vocational Evaluator (CVE), a Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP), and a Certified Brain Injury Specialist Trainer (CBIST). Tina is employed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies, Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program at the University of South Florida, Tampa. She also currently works as a Health Science Specialist at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center in Tampa. She is the former State Director of Family Programs and Services for Brain Injury Association of Florida, Inc. Tina is the Chair of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Military and Veterans Affairs Networking Group. In addition, she has served on the Florida Rehabilitation Association Board since 2009. Her research areas include employment for persons with disabilities with an emphasis on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Other interests include family and community support, caregiving, and community re-integration for civilians and Veterans with TBI. She is currently Co-PI on Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. DOE; H129B150004- Rehabilitation Counseling Master’s Degree Program: A Solution to Personnel Shortages in the Florida Public Vocational Rehabilitation System. She serves as PI and Co-PI on several other grants related to community reintegration for civilians and veterans with disabilities. She has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. If elected, she hopes to support the overall mission of NRA to
"provide exemplary leadership through social advocacy and legislation, advance cultural awareness and competence across communities, promote excellence in research and practice, and support professionals engaged in the employment and independence of individuals with disabilities".
Judy Seriale Smith serves as the Deputy Chief of Field Services – Director of Transition Services with the Arkansas Department of Career Education and Rehabilitation Services. She joined the agency in May 2007 and has also served as Interim Director for the Arkansas Career Training Institute (ACTI). And currently serves as the Arkansas State Coordinator for Project SEARCH®.
Before joining the agency, Smith served as the Executive Director of Arkansans for Drug Free Youth in Camden and as Executive Director of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission for a total of 24-years.
In 1990, Smith was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives where she served for eight years. During her tenure, she was elected Deputy Majority Leader, served as Vice-Chair of the House Public Health, Welfare, & Labor Committee and chaired its Human Services sub-committee. She also served on several local, state and national committees. In 1998, Smith was the Democratic Nominee for the Arkansas’ Fourth Congressional District.
Smith’s community involvement has ranged from working with young children to helping youth develop intergenerational activities. She was instrumental in the development of the UAMS Project SEARCH® site and the development of the 38 million dollar AR PROMISE research grant.
Smith is a graduate of Grambling State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, is Certified Volunteer Manager and Certified Career Development Facilitator (CDF).