Our board of directors is made up of a dedicated group of individuals from the local community. They meet on a monthly basis to oversee the day to day running or our nonprofit organization.
Board of Directors
Chris Hilderbrant, Executive Director
Injured in a diving accident at age 14, Chris Hilderbrant has served as an eloquent and effective advocate for people with disabilities for the past two decades, helping to expand rights on the local, state, and national level. During his 14-year tenure at the Center for Disability Rights, he rose from a part-time position working directly with clients to be the organization’s chief operating officer and is known for activism, including participation in civil disobedience. Chris also served as chief operating officer at Common Ground Health before starting his own consulting business and then joining the Rochester Spinal Association.
Chris is committed to diversity, equity, and integration for all and proudly serves as a connector between numerous communities. Chris served on the board of the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley as a straight ally. He’s nearly fluent in ASL and is on the advisory committee for We the Deaf People.
Chris founded and serves as captain of the WNY Wreckers—Western New York’s only wheelchair rugby team. He lives in Brighton with his wife, Jill Hilderbrant, and their children, Annika and Kyle. He holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Nazareth College.
Amy Scaramuzzino, President
Amy Scaramuzzino has been an active member of our chapter since 1991. She spent her career working in education with disadvantaged youth. For Amy, knowing that there is life after spinal cord injury was crucial in order for her to heal emotionally and spiritually. Our chapter was and continues to be the bridge to those opportunities for all with SCI/D, their families and loved ones.
Betsy Saxe, Vice President
In February 2016, Betsy experienced a spinal cord injury and has spent the last four years learning how to live her best life as a paraplegic. She lives with her husband Rick, who has been by her side for over 40 years. Betsy and Rick love to travel and have adventures. Betsy is a proud grandmother and she loves to read. Prior to her injury, Betsy worked in various positions at RIT for 35 years.
Cathy Flanagan, Treasurer
Cathy O’Malley Flanagan, RN, MBA was a nurse on the rehab unit at Strong Hospital in the 1980’s where she met many young people with new spinal cord injuries. Moved by the realization that so much of recovery occurs after the hospital, she was one of the founding members of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association’s Rochester Chapter in 1991. Since that time, she has been actively involved with the Chapter while continuing to work at Strong Hospital. Cathy and her husband Jim reside in Brighton with their 2 daughters, Mary and Meghan.
Susan Shepard, Secretary
Susan Shepard became interested in spinal cord injuries (SCI) started in 1983 at the age of 15 when I was injured in a bicycle accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down. Since then as part of my recovery I have participated in many activities directed at helping those with SCI. I was one of the founding members of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association’s Rochester Chapter in 1991. Since then I have been actively involved as a participant then part of the organizational team working to sustain the chapter in the area for anyone needing assistance. Over the years I have participated in activities for members such as peer mentor programs, prevention programs, sports and recreational activities, support group meetings, local health conferences & national association conferences. My connection with this organization has helped me find strength whenever life throws me challenges and hopefully, I have been able to provide others with the support they may need as well. My husband Mark and I reside in Henrietta with my daughter Allison and niece Carrie.
Scott Frail, Board Member
Scott Frail received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University center at Binghamton in 1985, and then spent 25 years in sales management in both the commercial printing and paper recycling industry. Inspired by his daughter’s career choice, Scott went back to school in 2010 completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Rochester School of Nursing. For three years he has been employed as a certified rehabilitation nurse on inpatient rehabilitation unit at Strong Memorial Hospital. During this time Scott has assisted with a social support group for individuals with spinal cord injury. Scott finds the work with the SCI community extremely rewarding and his hope is to assist individuals with SCI to develop as much functional independence as possible.
Other professional duties at SMH include Chair of the Professional Nursing Council and Co-Chair of the Magnet Champion Council.
Rick Saxe, Board Member
Rick Saxe is a wonderful addition to the board. He brings personal experience as a caregiver to the board.
Craig Lending, Board Member
Craig is a Faculty member in the Department of Biology at SUNY College at Brockport, where he has taught for 27 years. He received his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He teaches courses ranging from Introductory Biology for nursing students and non-majors. Additionally, he teaches courses in Evolution and a course titled Current Issues in Life Sciences, with topics ranging from genetic testing, GMOs, stem cell therapies, performance-enhancing drugs and the current anti-vaccination movement.
Craig is an avid golfer, hiker, fly-fisherman, photographer and dog agility enthusiast, and many of those activities came to an abrupt end when a staph infection in his lumbar spine resulted in cauda equina syndrome, resulting in paralysis from the waist down. This significant illness forced him to confront the profound difficulties presented to individuals who rely on a wheelchair. It sparked a desire to advocate for greater awareness, understanding and accessibility for the spinal cord disability community. Craig and his wife Jan Miller look forward to learning how to travel with a wheelchair and enjoying adaptive sports like golf and cycling!
Amanda Corona, Board Member
Amanda is a principal at the Bonadio Group on the firm’s Commercial and Construction teams. Her experience includes financial statement audits of clients in a variety of industries including construction, real estate, manufacturing and employee benefit plans.
Amanda holds a B.S. Degree in Accounting from Alfred University. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional.
Her professional memberships include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Construction Financial Management Association. Amanda currently serves as the Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Construction Financial Management Association. Amanda joined the Board of Directors for the Rochester Spinal Association during 2018.
Lesley Niebel, Board Member
Lesley is an attorney at Faraci Lange, LLP, and focuses her practice on all aspects of personal injury, including medical malpractice, auto accidents, labor law, product liability, and business litigation. Lesley is originally from Fredonia, NY, and earned her Juris Doctor degree from Syracuse University College of Law and her bachelor’s degree in English and Economics from the State University of New York College at Geneseo. Her energy and support of the RSA mission is a welcome addition to the board of directors and the organization members.
Leanne Rorick, Board Member
Leanne Rorick brings experience of the resources available to the disabled community and a personal understanding of the challenges someone with a spinal cord injury must face. Rorick has a wealth of experience in home care and long-term care services from professional roles with Lifespan of Greater Rochester, where she serves as Director of the NY Connects program. Rorick also has a strong personal connection to RSA, as her her aunt lived with a spinal cord injury from 1977 until 2020 and was an influential advocate for all people with disabilities.
Jean Nickels, Board Member
Jean Nickels brings experience of the resources available to the disabled community and a personal understanding of the challenges someone with a spinal cord injury must face. As a physician for the local rehabilitation hospital Dr. Nickels has a wealth of experience in treatment of acute care and long-term care services.