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
 Nora Johnson Chair-Elect: Nora Johnson, MBA, MS, PsyD
Penn Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine
Philadelphia, PA
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 monthly newsletter of early career resources and information.  Here’s a sample table of contents to whet your appetite.  ECNG Membership is FREE! Click the Join Now button to get involved and start receiving the information you need to advance your rehabilitation research career.

  • Seeking nominations for the position of ECNG Chair Elect
  • ACRM Annual Meeting, Toronto 2014 – Important info
  • Various Career Development Resources
  • Grant Opportunities and Advice for New Investigators: Did you Know??
  • Fellowship and Job Opportunity Resources
  • Contribute to our list of resources for early career development
  • ECNG seeks mid- and late-career professionals to join our network
  • Other ACRM ISIGs and networking groups seeking early career members

Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award

Deborah Wilkerson

Deborah L. Wilkerson

The Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award 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.

Brad Kurowski

Brad Kurowski

CONGRATULATIONS to the 2014 Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award winner, Brad Kurowski, MD, MS. He presented the award lecture on 10 October during the Annual Conference.

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, Assistant Professor, Baylor College of Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

“Building Leaders in Rehabilitation Research”

Stephanie Kolakowsky-Hayner, PhD CBIST
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.

Typically the course includes a keynote speaker, an interactive panel of experts sharing tips and tricks, and/or “news you can use” presentations from leading funding agency representatives, and a Q&A period when attendees can ask the funding questions most important to them. Often the course includes a panel of successful Early Career Awardees who share their experiences obtaining funding. The day culminate with two 60 minute breakout sessions, led by leaders in the field, on a variety of topics, such as:

  • Developing Clinical/Research Teams
  • Conducting Team Science
  • Approaches to Team Writing
  • Building a Mentorship Team
  • Creating International Collaborations
  • Leading/Managing a Team: What to look for when hiring


Cocktail Reception

Course attendees will be invited to wrap up the day with the “now famous” Early Career Reception where you will have a chance to network informally with the speakers from the course, the breakout facilitators, the heads of all of the ACRM Special Interest and Networking Groups, and leading journal editors and ACRM leadership. It will truly be a networking event not to be missed!


2015 Theme and Registration

The course changes every year, so you can attend more than once!  Watch for announcements of the 2015 theme and Early Bird registration coming soon.


“Not only is there a broad range of professionals/ academicians/ researchers you can learn from and talk to, but the break outs are set up such that you are in a more intimate environment in which you can ask real, specific, pressing questions …. Having attended the Early Career Development Course, I have access to any of the individuals who presented – everyone is willing and open to help support your career as much as they can.”—Dr. Valerie Hill, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California Valerie Hill

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.


Early Career Development Course Task Force

Chair: Stephanie A. Kolakowsky-Hayner PhD, CBIST

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.


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.


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.


Mentoring / Advising Task Force

Co-Chair:  Meghan Geiss, PhD
Co-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.


Social Planning Task Force

Chair: Dawn Neumann, PhD