• early-career
  • 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.

    Early Career professionals image Early Career Reception image Early Career Reception image


    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.

    “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

    ECNG Executive Committee

    Megan Damcott image  
    Chair: Megan Mitchell, PhD
    Biomedical Engineer
    Kansas City, KS
    Dawn Neumann Past Chair: Dawn Neumann, PhD
    Indiana University
    Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana
    Indianapolis, IN
    Chair-Elect: OPEN POSITION
    Contact Megan Mitchell with inquiries.
    Chari Hirshson image
    Secretary: Chari I. Hirshson, PhD
    Licensed Clinical Psychologist
    Mount Sinai School of Medicine
    New York, NY

    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.

    See the Current Issue: ECNG Resources & Information Newsletter

    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.

    Tatyana Mollayeva, MD, PhD

    Tatyana Mollayeva, MD, PhD

    CONGRATULATIONS to the 2015 Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award winner, Tatyana Mollayeva, MD, PhD  who presented the award lecture, Insomnia in Workers With Delayed Recovery From Mild Traumatic Brain Injury #4891 during the Annual Conference in Dallas.

    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
    Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

    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.



    Kenneth Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR kicked-off the course with Making Science: Characteristics of Successful Scholars.

    Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kenneth OttenbacherDr. Ottenbacher holds the Russell Shearn Moody Distinguished Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), where he is professor and director of the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences; director of the Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition; and associate director for the Sealy Center on Aging.

    Dr. Ottenbacher has published more than 300 articles and his research has been supported by continuous federal funding since 1984. He is currently the principal investigator or project leader on seven grants totaling more than $15 million dollars.

    Learn More about the 2015 Early Career Development Course


    Valerie Hill“Not only is there a broad range of professionals, academicians, and researchers to meet and learn from, but the break outs provide a more intimate environment in which to ask specific, pressing questions .... Having attended the Early Career Development Course, I now have access to any of the individuals who presented—everyone is willing and open to help support your career as much as they can." —Valerie Hill, PhD, MS, OTR/L, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California


    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.


    Monique Pappadis

    Monique R. Pappadis, MEd, PhD

    Early Career Development Course Task Force

    Chair: Monique Renae Pappadis, MEd, PhD

    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.

    Dawn Neumann

    Dawn Neumann, PhD

    Communications Task Force

    Chair: Dawn Neumann, PhD

    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.

    Brad Kurowski, MD, MS

    Brad Kurowski, MD, MS

    Physicians Task Force

    Chair: Brad Kurowski, MD, MS

    The mission of the ECNG Physicians Task Force is to cultivate collaboration among multiple rehabilitation medicine disciplines with a focus on improving the implementation of research, knowledge translation, and program development.

    Brooks Wingo

    Brooks Wingo, PhD

    Mentoring / Advising Task Force

    Chair:  Brooks Wingo, PhD

    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.