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Event Speakers & Session Descriptions

Love Your Brain Yoga Introduction Session

The LoveYourBrain Foundation is a non-profit organization that improves the quality of life of people affected by traumatic brain injury and raises awareness about the importance of brain health. LoveYourBrain Yoga recently introduced LYB Mindset, a six -week online program offering yoga, mindfulness and education to build resilience and community. All programs are free of charge. Please visit loveyourbrain.com/mindset for more information!

Elena Finer, CYT-200, is a LoveYourBrain certified yoga instructor. She completed her yoga certification from the Roots Love Yoga school in June 2019, and completed LYB training in the spring of 2019. She has led, and co-facilitated, LYB FUNdamental series at The Yoga Shala in Washington DC. During the week, Elena is a speech language pathologist at Inova Rehabilitation Center, in Alexandria, VA. 

Brain Injury Basics: Causes, Consequences and Care

  • Description: Brain injury is too often undiagnosed and unrecognized as a contributing factor to independent living and gainful employment. This session will provide an overview of the causes and consequences of brain injury, as well as information about symptoms and severity levels. It will also discuss how unrecognized and untreated brain injury can create social and societal challenges, and the need for broad brain injury screening efforts. Lastly, attendees will learn strategies and resources that can lead to better outcomes.  
  • Learning Objectives:
    • better understand brain anatomy and the pathophysiology of brain injury
    • identify at least three common sequela of brain injury
    • recognize brain injury and mental health co-morbidities
    • learn at least 3 communication, behavior and treatment intervention strategies


Ms. McDonnell is the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.  She has a BS in Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Virginia, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Health Care Management from Old Dominion University, and a Masters of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

Anne has over 35 years of experience in brain injury rehabilitation and advocacy across a continuum of hospital and community based settings. She is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist Trainer, holds a clinical faculty position in the School of Occupational Therapy at VCU, serves on the Virginia Brain Injury Council and is Chair of the VCU TBI Model Systems Advisory Board.

In 2011, she was named one of the “Influential Women of Virginia.” In 2014, she received the State Association Leadership Award by the Brain Injury Association of America, and in 2015, she was chosen to serve with 50 of the nation’s top brain injury researchers and clinicians on the Icahn School of Medicine project to develop Guidelines for the Rehabilitation of Adults with Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.


“ Perchance to Dream” – A Review of Sleep and Its Impact on Health for Caregivers and Loved Ones With TBI


  1. Overview of sleep (sleep stages and sleep requirements at different ages)
  2. Review of the different types of sleep disorders (including Insomnia, Apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome, REM Behavior Sleep Disorder, Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, Narcolepsy) and how these conditions may have a significant impact upon thinking, emotions and behavior.
  3. Discussion of impact of sleep problems on both the Caregiver and the TBI Individual
  4. Discussion of recommendations to improve sleep quality and function

Description:  This will be a pre-recorded audio and power point slide presentation on sleep and      how both normal and abnormal sleep function can affect a person’s ability to perform in their daily life.  The presenter estimates that more than 60% of general Neuropsychological Evaluation referrals for thinking, emotions and behavior have some form of previously identified (and often poorly managed) sleep disorder and/or that such concerns are identified during the evaluation.  Case study examples will be presented.

Edward “Ted”  Peck received his MS and PhD degrees from Tufts University.  He is Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology (ABPP-ABCn).  He completed his Clinical Internship at Children’s Hospital (Boston) and Postdoctoral Fellowship jointly at the Peter Bent Brigham & Children’s Hospitals, and Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry.  He is a fellow in the National Academy Of Neuropsychology has received a Presidential citation from that organization.  He is a past elected board member of the American Academy Of Clinical Neuropsychology, and twice named as a Gubernatorial Appointee to the Virginia Board of Psychology.  While on the Virginia BOP, he served as Chair of the Complaint & Adjudication Committee.   Currently, he serves on the Ethics Committee of the American Board Of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians, and is the chair of Professional Relations & Ethics Committee for the Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychology.  He is actively involved in research on pharmacologic issues in individuals following TBI and with behavioral and memory disorders.  He supervises VCU graduate students in neuropsychological assessment and theory and also mentors undergraduate Neuroscience students from Randolph Macon College.  His full-time private practice (Neuropsychological Services Of Virginia) is in Richmond, Virginia.

Opioid Use and Traumatic Brain Injury


Attendees will learn:

  • About opioids and the difference between use and misuse in the general population and those that have experienced a TBI – incidence and dangers.
  • Attendees will learn about opioid use/misuse amongst Virginian's with TBI.
  • Attendees will learn about resources in Virginia for opioid misuse.

Session description – Presenters will:

    • provide an overview of the opioid problem in general and in brain injury.
    • share results of a survey done by VCU researchers.
    • offer resources related to opioid use and misuse.

Presenters: Jennifer Marwitz, Kevin Murray, Laura Albert 

Jennifer Marwitz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Virginia Commonwealth University. She serves as the Research Coordinator for the Virginia Commonwealth Traumatic Brain Injury Model System. Ms. Marwitz has published more than sixty peer-reviewed manuscripts with many relating to rehabilitation outcome, families, return to work, and emotional well-being. She also serves as Managing Editor of the journal, Brain Injury.

Laura Albert received her bachelor's degree in Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia. While there, she assisted on a number of developmental psychology research studies for several different labs within the University. She now works with VCU as a Clinical Research Assistant in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, where she assists on several projects. She also serves as editor for the Virginia TBI Model System’s Newsletter, TBI Today. 

Kevin Murray holds a master’s degree in experimental psychology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is a psychometrist in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at VCU Health. He has over five years of experience conducting neuropsychological assessments, primarily serving outpatient neurological populations.

Keynote Session-COVID-19 Cognitive & Psychological Effects


Join us to learn about the Neurological and Neuropsychological effects of COVID-19, learn and understand about the recovery process and complications that can occur.  This presentation will also address the stress associated with the COVID pandemic and how this parallels the chronicity of traumatic brain injury.  Lastly, we will explore stress management techniques for acute stress and chronic stress response.

Dr. Gordon Horn, PhD 
National Deputy Director of Clinical Outcomes, NeuroRestorative
Clinical Director, NeuroRestorative Florida

Horn2Dr. Horn is a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in neurologic rehabilitation treatment and programming. He has worked within inpatient and outpatient hospital systems, ICU and acute care management, and post-hospital care facilities. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor with the Florida State University College of Medicine. He holds professional membership with the National Academy of Neuropsychology, the International Neuropsychological Society, the American Psychological Association’s Division of Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology, and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. He provides lectures nationally and internationally. His current research is within neurologic rehabilitation outcomes.


Cultivating Your Resilience and Well-being During a Pandemic

The “new normal” has tested the limits of our collective ability to stay positive. Yet, humans are strong and creative - we have found new ways of connecting, healing, and growing. Join us for this very practical and timely panel discussion to get pointers for growing your resilience and focusing on your well-being during this challenging time. Participants will also get the opportunity to share their own tips. After the session, BIAV will compile the tips and ideas into a ‘pandemic resilience’ resource that participants can access and share.

Savannah Britt- I am a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and am currently working for Sheltering Arms Institute as a Clinical Recreation Therapist on the Traumatic Brain Injury Unit. I have experience with older adults as well from previous experience with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay working in memory care and skilled nursing. I graduated from Longwood University in 2018. One of my favorite hobbies is hosting game nights for family and friends to introduce them to new card games or board games that I like to play with my patients!

Karen Grazionale

Karen Grazionale is retired after 30 years managing special projects for a major health insurance company. Her expertise is in human-centered design, project management, and VoIP technologies. In February 2016, her husband was hit by a car leaving him unconscious with polytrauma to his head and body. Karen used her experience with the clinicians in the ICU and her expertise to develop a process for effective innovation that she has copyrights to.

Karen has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and is certified in Brain Injury Fundamentals, by the Brain Injury Association of America. She is on the Board of Directors for the Community Brain Injury Services and serves as a Caregiver Advisor to the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. She also co-facilitates a Support Group for Caregivers and volunteers for Meals on Wheels.

Karen lives in Hampton, Virginia with her husband Victor and dog Riley. They love to travel and have been to Europe, Costa Rica, Canada, S.E. Asia and are currently working their way across the United States in their camper.

The Housing Cliff – What’s Next and How You Can Help

Being part of a community and living as independently as possible is a universal need and right. The pandemic and resulting loss of jobs poses a real threat to housing resources available to people impacted by brain injury – and resources were already scarce. As the housing relief given during the early stages of the pandemic approaches an end, there is a lot of uncertainty. Anyone concerned about housing in Virginia should attend this session – participants will learn about current resources, programs, financial assistance, what the future may hold in Virginia and nationally as relief measures expire, and about opportunities to use their voices to create change.

Brian Koziol

Executive Director, The Virginia Housing Alliance

Brian has worked for 9 years in the housing world, having spent most of that time as the Director of Research for Housing Opportunities Made Equal of VA, Inc. Brian has worked on a variety of housing-related topics including access to opportunity, affordability, mortgage lending, foreclosures, employment, health, and transportation. He has served as a consultant to local governments across the country helping them to advance equitable housing policy.

Stephanie Arnold Peaco

Program Manager, Brain Injury Program at Virginia Supportive Housing.

Stephanie has worked for 17 years for a permanent supportive housing non-profit organization, with 15 of those years managing the brain injury program.  Since expanding the brain injury program at VSH to work with homeless individuals, Stephanie has been working to assist those also at-risk of becoming homeless to keep their current housing.  She has also been connecting individuals calling the VSH screening line with community housing resources for the last 8 years.