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(She/her/hers) Cynthia has worked in non-profit management for over 18 years. Prior to her dedication to nonprofit work she honed her leadership skills managing a financial research firm for 12-years. Cynthia's mother, Eileene, suffers from Meniere's Disease, vestibular migraine, and BPPV. Cynthia enjoys hiking with her husband, Tod, and dog, Xena (yes, she's a warrior princess). She also enjoys reading, gardening, abstract art, and volunteering with local animal welfare organizations.


Karen Ilari(She/her/hers) Karen 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. You can learn more about her art on her webiste: She and her husband, Bill, are empty nesters with four children, three grandchildren (so far!) and one very spoiled kitty named Pooty.


(He/him/his) Ryan joined VeDA in the spring of 2020. He has worked in data management in the nonprofit world since 2012. Born and raised in the Portland area, he enjoys playing bass guitar, watching science videos, and pushing Excel as far as he can.



(She/her/hers) Elizabeth joined VeDA in March, 2021. She has been involved in the nonprofit sector for several years. Outside of work you will find her enjoying the outdoors, curled up with a book, or singing in a community choir.


Chandra, Patient and Family Resource Coordinator

Chandra joins VeDA with a myriad of years working within the healthcare industry, and a vast customer service background. She’s delighted to bring together her experience in the world of health and working with people. In her off hours you can find her creating memories with family, playing with her dogs, meditating, and getting inspired by spending time in nature.


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.

Habib Rizk, MD, President (Mount Pleasant, SC)

Habib Rizk MD. MSCR is an Associate professor of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. He is a fellowship trained neurotologist and directs the multidisciplinary vestibular program. He is also the chair of the clinical and translational research ethics committee at MUSC. In addition to teaching students and residents from all disciplines who would interface with vestibular disorders, his research interests are related to all areas of vestibular disorders with specific expertise in Meniere’s disease and Vestibular Migraine. He is a member of the American Balance Society as well as a member of the Otology-Neurotology Education committee of the American academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. He is also a member of the Bárány Society.

Holly Fisher, EdD, VICE PRESIDENT & Treasurer (Coppell, TX)

Dr. Holly B. Fisher is a Principal Director with Accenture, the global consulting firm, in their Talent and Organization/Human Performance Strategy practice. She has over 20 years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies implement organizational transformations via talent development and learning, organizational design, cultural transformations, executive coaching, change management, and strategic communications. Dr. Fisher’s academic and research background is in Education Leadership with a focus on adult learning, education program planning and implementation, and continuing education in the professions. Dr. Fisher is also a dedicated volunteer, currently serving as Treasurer of the Board of the Vestibular Disorders Association. Dr. Fisher received her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Kansas State University in 2017, her M.S. in Adult, Occupational, and Continuing Education from Kansas State University in 2011, and her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland’s European Division in 1991.

Laura Cala, AFAIM, AMICDA, Secretary (Western Australia)

Laura was diagnosed with Vestibular Migraine in 2019, 2016 was the year her symptoms onset initially. Before her life with Vestibular Migraine, Laura was always on the go, a busy corporate professional, studying her Master in Business Management, a Dancer and Dance Teacher. In the years leading up to 2019; everyday was a dizzy nightmare. Fast forward to today; feeling back to her normal self, largely due to the amazing support and resources provided by VeDA, Laura is now excited to be able to contribute to VeDA further as a Member of the Board of Directors.

Professionally; Laura is a highly experienced professional who has a strong business background across a range of sectors in Australia; including education, not for profit and financial services. She has completed a Masters of Business Management (MBM) at Swinburne University of Technology and a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) (BCom) at Curtin University of Technology. Laura is currently completing a Master of Laws in Enterprise Governance at Bond University.

Laura is a member (MAICD) of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, an Associate Fellow Member (AFAIM) at the Australian Institute of Management WA and an Associated Member (AMICDA) of the Institute of Community Directors Australia.

Patricia Gerend, MA (San Francisco, CA)

Patricia (Patty) Gerend is a data scientist who worked many years in clinical trials. She has been a vestibular patient since 2004 and was very happy to learn about VeDA and their mission. She currently serves on VeDA's Medical Advocacy Committee and helps oversee VeDA's Patient Registry data.


Salvatore Gruttadauria, AuD, SLP (Kenmore, NY)

Dr. Salvatore A. Gruttadauria is the owner and CEO of Diversified Rehabilitation Services, Diversified Hearing and Balance Centers, Children’s Rehab Services of Western New York and Greater Buffalo Centers for Dizziness and Balance - private rehabilitation practices that provide Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology, as well as Audiology and Hearing Aid Services. Dr. Gruttadauria, an Audiologist and Speech/Language received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Buffalo and Doctorate in Audiology degree from the University of Florida.

Dr. Gruttadauria is an Adjunct Profession at the University of Buffalo and also serves as Clinial Director Consultant for Balanceback-a manufacturer of vestibular testing and treatment equipment. He is a past President of the New York State Speech-Language-Hearing Association, past President of the Western New York Academy of Audiology, Past President of the Western New York Private Practice Association and Vice President of Audiolgy for the Speech/Langauge and Hearing Association of Western New York. Dr. Gruttadauria has lectured extensively on professional issues involving Audiology and Rehabilitation services and sits on a number of healthcare advisory boards.

Abbie Ross, PT, DPT, NCS (Pompano Beach, FL)

Dr. Abbie Ross is a physical therapist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of patients with vestibular and balance dysfunction. She is a board-certified neurologic clinical specialist, which includes the rehabilitation management of vestibular disorders, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and more. Dr. Ross operates a primarily virtual vestibular rehabilitation clinic called Balancing Act Rehabilitation PLLC. In addition, she co-produces a podcast focused on vestibular dysfunction called Talk Dizzy to Me alongside Dr. Danielle Tolman, PT.

She is a graduate of SUNY Upstate Medical University and of the Vestibular Competency Course presented by Duke University School of Medicine and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Dr. Ross is a member of the APTA and Vestibular Rehabilitation Special Interest Group. She is honored to serve on the Board of Vestibular Disorders Association (VeDA) and on the Virtual Conference Committee to participate in the vision and mission of VeDA.

Erin Piker, AuD, PhD, CCC-A (Harrisonburg, VA)

Erin G. Piker, AuD, PhD (She/her/hers) joined the VEDA Board of Directors in 2022. She is an Associate Professor, Program Director of Audiology, and Director of the Vestibular Sciences Lab at James Madison University. Her research interests are in the areas of vestibular physiology, motion perception, and vestibular clinical diagnostics. She has published over 50 articles and book chapters in the area of the vestibular sciences and given over 80 presentations. In addition to her vestibular research, Dr. Piker teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of vestibular sciences, auditory and vestibular anatomy and physiology, and auditory and vestibular pathologies. She has mentored Ph.D. students, Au.D. students, undergraduates, and medical residents in the areas of vestibular research and clinical care.


Lynn Johnson (Secane, PA)

Lynn JohnsonLynn's life became unbalanced Thanksgiving, 2015. She had been feeling off, and out of the blue woke up with imbalance and loud tinnitus (ringing) in her right ear. As days past, her symptoms continued to get worse. Five months and four doctors later, she was diagnosed with Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease (AIED) and Bilateral Vestibular Hypofunction. Her symptoms include bilateral hearing loss, oscillopsia (jumping vision), and imbalance. Lynn says that if she had been given the correct diagnosis in the beginning, they might have been able to save her hearing. "This disease has robbed me of my hearing, my career as high school biology teacher, my ability to walk, to drive, and so many things," says Lynn. "But I refuse to let it rob me of my joy and quality of life." Lynn is a VeDA Ambassador because she is passionate about spreading awareness, educating, and advocating on behalf of patients like herself so that misdiagnosis can be prevented. She currently helps facilitate the Autoimmune Inner-Ear Disorder Facebook Group.

Stefanie Adams (South Boston, MA)

Stefanie AdamsStefanie suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries and had her third concussion in 2017. As soon as she hit her head she felt off-balance and started to sway. Over the next year she developed terrible migraines and dizziness. Eventually the migraines left, but the dizziness stayed. A year later she discovered that she had a perilymph fistula (a hole in the membrane separating the middle and inner ears) when she got the flu, blew her nose, and the room started to spin. She’s had surgery to repair the fistula and is now a VeDA Ambassador and vestibular advocate.

Darcy Bonjour (Chanute, KS)

Darcy worked several years in a State Disability Services Department processing and making decisions on Social Security disability claims. She went on to work for the Social Security Administration processing claims for disability and retirement. In 2005 she had her first vertigo episode, which led to a vestibular journey that continues today. Initially diagnosed with Meniere's Disease, testing also showed an Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct and eventually an Acoustic Neuroma. After surgery she lost all of her hearing. She now has bilateral cochlear implants. It was life changing not returning to a job she loved and instead going full circle in the disability process; filing for her own benefits. While there were many hard days of not feeling well, and with added diagnoses of Vestibular Migraine, PPPD, as well as additional chronic illnesses, she saw there was still so much joy to be found in every day life, even while being sick. Determined to continue to find a way to help and encourage others, she became involved in patient advocacy. She is currently an Ambassador for VeDA and is serving on the DEI Committee. She serves on the Social Media Committee for Miles for Migraine and is a contributing writer for Health Union’s Chronic Hive’s group. She is also an admin for 3 Facebook groups for people with chronic illness. She loves reading and light gardening, but her favorite thing to do is spend time with her 6 grandkids.


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.

  • Joel A. Goebel, MD, FACS, Chair - Director, Vestibular & Oculomotor Laboratory, Department of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO
  • Divya Chari, MD - Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary
  • Rick Clendaniel, PT, PhD, Doctor of Physical Therapy Division, Duke University of Medicine, Durham, NC
  • Janet Helminski, PT, PhD, Professor, College of Health Science, Midwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • Timothy Hullar, MD, Staff Surgeon, Portland VA Healthcare System, Portland, OR
  • 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
  • Amir Kheradmand, MD, Neurologist, Associate Professor of Neurology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
  • Jeffrey Kramer, MD, Neurologist, 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
  • 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, Paris, France
  • Jeffrey Sharon, MD, Director - UCSF Balance & Falls Center
  • Neil T. Shepard, PhD, Professor of Audiology, Director, Dizziness and Balance Disorders Program, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
  • Eric Slattery, MD - Medical Director, House of Hearing, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Kathleen Stross, DPT, MS, CHC - Owner, In Harmony Physical Therapy, Pearland, TX
  • Jack J. Wazen, MD, FACS, Neurotologist, Director of Research, Silverstein Institute, Sarasota, FL


  • Susan J. Herdman, PT, PhD, FAPTA
  • Timothy C. Hain, MD
  • P. Ashley Wackym, MD, FACS, FAAP
  • Conrad Wall III, PhD
  • Mohamed Hamid, MD, PhD, EE
  • Louise Geib, M.Ed.