Staff, Board & Advisors

Meet the people behind the scenes.


VeDA's small but efficient staff understands the difficulties faced by people with vestibular disorders. We are here to help!

Cynthia Ryan MBA, Executive Director

Cynthia has worked in non-profit management for over 15 years, and previously was General Manager and Vice President of a financial research firm. Cynthia's mother, Eileene, suffers from Meniere's Disease. Cynthia enjoys hiking, reading, and volunteering with local animal welfare organizations. She and her husband, Tod, are the proud caretakers of two cats and their loyal pooch, Fionn MacCool.

Christina Conner, Membership & Development manager

Christina ConnerChristina has worked with members in several different organizations, most recently as the Membership and Special Events Manager at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. Christina has volunteered with organizations like the Girl Scouts and AmeriCorps. Christina recently moved to Portland, Oregon from the Greater New York City area and is looking forward to experiencing all the City of Roses has to offer. “It is my mission to help make the world a better place,” says Christina. “I am very excited to become a part of the team at VeDA and work to increase its impact.”

In her spare time, Christina is an avid reader who also enjoys knitting and hiking.

Karen Ilari, Bookkeeper

Karen IlariKaren works for VeDA part-time. She has worked in accounting for many years in both the profit and non-profit sectors. Karen spends the rest of her time on her other love - painting. She sells her paintings on her online store and teaches painting through online videos. She and her husband, Bill, are empty nesters with four children, three grandchildren (so far!) and one very spoiled kitty named Pooty.

Cassey Parish, Patient Support Coordinator

Cassey uses her experience as an Intake Coordinator for Hospice to lend an empathetic ear for support to vestibular patients while educating them about VeDA's resources. She has had her own struggles finding a diagnosis for a chronic illness, and she understands how frustrating that can be.

Michelle Eyres, Development manager

Michelle has worked in the nonprofit world in Portland for over 9 years.  She has contributed to the success of organizations big and small.  As a life-long Portlander, she is very proud of the high level of philanthropy found here.  "I am not a person that can sit by and hope someone else steps up and tackles a problem. My passion has led me to a gratifying career and collaboration with many diverse people." In her off hours, Michelle plays indoor soccer with her husband, avidly reads murder mysteries and spends as much time with her teens as they will allow.

Marianne Sadee, development administrative assisstant

Marianne works for VeDA part-time. She has a lot of experience in nonprofit development and communications that she hopes to make good use of at VeDA. Marianne's first love is opera and learning everything there is to know about the voice. She spends her time outside of VeDA teaching voice lessons and performing around the area. She enjoys spending weekends exploring the city and taking in arts and musical offerings.  

Board of Directors

VeDA's board of directors is composed of people who have been diagnosed with one or more vestibular disorders, friends and family members of vestibular patients, and medical specialists in the vestibular field. Their focus is to expand awareness for vestibular disorders while improving care and treatment for patients suffering from vestibular dysfunction.

  • Holly Fisher, MS, President (Coppell, TX)
  • Kamran Barin, PhD, Vice President (Columbus, OH)
  • Kathleen Stross, PT, MS, Secretary (Pearland, TX)
  • Rose Dunn, MBA, Treasurer (Maryland Heights, MO)
  • Dennis Fitzgerald, MD (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Rebecca Rubin (Sherman Oaks, CA)
  • Patricia Gerend, MS (San Francisco, CA)
  • Ellis Kern (West Palm Beach, FL)
  • Jordan Tucker, DPT (Troutville, VA)
  • Robert Rubin, MD, PhD (Oxnard, CA)
  • Louise Geib, M.Ed., Trustee (Atlantic Beach, FL)
  • Bryce Salvador, Owner, NHL Player/Captain, Ret. (Westfield, NJ) - Honorary

Medical & Scientific Advisory Board

VeDA's medical and scientific advisors represent the best and most well-respected professionals in the vestibular community. Our advisors hail from such notable institutions as Massachusettes Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, the Mayo Clinic, Northwestern University Medical School, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Oregon Health Sciences University. With experience in direct patient care, research and teaching, our advisors provide oversight to VeDA's published materials, ensuring data that is accurate, timely and scientifically relevant. 

P. Ashley Wackym, MD - Chair
President, Ear & Skull Base Center
Vice President of Research, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
New Brunswick, NJ
Rick Clendaniel, PT, PhD
Doctor of Physical Therapy Division
Duke University of Medicine
Durham, NC
Joel A. Goebel, MD, FACS
Director, Vestibular & Oculomotor Laboratory
Department of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery
Washington University School of Medicine
Saint Louis, MO
Timothy C. Hain, MD
Professor, Departments of Neurology, Physical Therapy, and Otolaryngology
Northwestern University Medical School
Chicago, IL
Janet Helminski, PT, PhD
Professor, College of Health Science
Midwestern University
Chicago, Illinois
Gary Jacobson, PhD
Professor, Division of Audiology
Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences
Co-Director, Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolargyngology and Communication Services
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN
Jeffrey Kramer, MD
Clinical Co-Director, Comprehensive Dizziness Center
Chief, Section of Neurology
Mercy Hospital & Medical Center
Chicago, IL
David Newman-Toker, MD, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Neurology
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
James Phillips, PhD
Associate Professor
Director, Dizziness & Balance Center
Dept. Of Otolaryngology
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington
Steven Rauch, MD
Professor and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
Harvard Medical School
Department of Otology and Laryngology
Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary
Chief Vestibular Division, Otolargyngology Department
Boston, MA
Jay Rubinstein, MD, PhD
Professor, Otolaryngology & Bioengineering
University of Washington
Director of Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center
Seattle, Washington
Michael Schubert, PT, PhD
Associate Professor
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Dept. of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery
Baltimore, MD
Alain Semont, PhD, PT
Physical Therapist
Vestibular Rehabilitation Center
Paris, France
Neil T. Shepard, PhD
Professor of Audiology
Director, Dizziness and Balance Disorders Program
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN
Hinrich Staecker, MD, PhD
Professor, Otolaryngology
University of Kansas School of Medicine
Kansas City, Kansas
Jack J. Wazen, MD, FACS
Director of Research, Silverstein Institute
Sarasota, FL
Judith White, MD, PhD
Medical Director, Balance Center - Swedish Neuroscience Institute
Seattle, WA


Susan J. Herdman, PT, PhD, FAPTA
Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine
Director, Division of Physical Therapy
Director, Vestibular Rehabilitation
Emory University
Atlanta, GA
Conrad Wall III, PhD
Director, Vestibular Laboratory
Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary
Boston, MA

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