Meet the Staff

RSA's staff is committed to improving the quality of life experienced by people living with spinal cord injuries/disabilities in the Greater Rochester area of New York State. 

Staff

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 is committed to diversity, equity, and integration for all and proudly serves as a connector between numerous communities. 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 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.

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Eileen Hurley, RN, LCSW

Eileen Hurley, RN, LCSW, was a founding member of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association’s Rochester Chapter in 1991. She left the position of Spinal Cord Injury Liaison Nurse in 1992 to direct free health and mental health centers for the uninsured of our community. Through a partnership agreement between RSA and the Spiritus Christi Urban Youth Outreach program, Eileen provides service coordination and clinical social work services to people who have spinal cord injuries as the result of acts of violence. RSA's focused support to this community is unique in the country and is made possible by funding from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

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Porche Powell - Peer Group Facilitator

Prior to her spinal cord injury, Porche "Shay" Powell worked full-time as a certified nursing assistant, owned a house in the city of Rochester, and was raising her two children. Shay was shot and paralyzed in 2020 when her ex-boyfriend broke into her home and attacked her. She's still a devoted mother and supports other family  members while using her experience surviving and restoring life to help others who have been shot and paralyzed.

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Ralph Norman - Peer Group Facilitator

During his senior year of high school in Yonkers, NY, Ralph Norman was riding with friends to get fast food before going to a party. While sitting in the car, gunfire broke out from opposite sides of the street and a bullet struck Ralph in the neck. Ralph lived in a nursing home for five years after his injury but now lives in his own apartment and manages his own aide services. He's an avid video-gamer, using a mouth-operated controller called a "Quad stick."