Shepherd Center Welcomes New Members to Board of Directors
Each of the members is uniquely qualified to help guide Shepherd Center into the future.
Shepherd Center has named five new members to its Board of Directors. In this capacity, they will help guide the hospital's vision, mission and strategic direction.
Justin Jones has been involved with Shepherd Center in one way or another for decades. His mother and his parents-in-law have supported the hospital for many years, but seeing people he knows receive rehabilitation at Shepherd Center made an even stronger impact on him.
“I have known three separate individuals who have gone to Shepherd Center for rehabilitation and saw firsthand how the hospital helps people get their lives back,” Justin says.
Before being named to Shepherd Center’s Board of Directors, Justin served on the hospital’s Board of Trustees and hosted numerous events benefitting programs like Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative. He even came to Shepherd Center’s aid when he learned the hospital needed personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic by helping procure and donate 10,000 protective gowns.
“When you see an institution that is doing the amazing work Shepherd is doing, it’s hard to not be moved to help in any way possible,” Justin says. “To be asked to serve on the Board of Directors is an honor and a lot of responsibility. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Justin Jones is the executive vice president at Heritage Plastics, a manufacturer of unique mineral concentrates. He is also president and CEO of Pinehurst Manufacturing, an apparel manufacturing company.
Like Justin, Shaler Alias learned about Shepherd Center at a young age through his family. His father, Fred Alias, has supported the hospital for more than 30 years. While Shaler was aware of what Shepherd Center did, it did not fully sink in until his best friend from college sustained a spinal cord injury in a fall from a roof the night before graduation. Seeing the care his friend received gave him confidence in Shepherd Center and encouraged him to become more involved.
“When you walk into Shepherd Center, you feel like you are part of a winning team,” Shaler says. “The mission is to build a bridge between ‘I can’t’ and ‘I can,’ and that’s the attitude in everything we do. I’m passionate about it.”
During his years of involvement with Shepherd Center, Shaler has served on the Shepherd Center Cup committee for the Shepherd Center Foundation’s annual golf tournament, chairing it once. He has also served on the Advisory Board and the Board of Trustees. Now, he looks forward to his work on the Board of Directors.
“I’m excited to learn even more about this great place and to be able to give back in a new way,” Shaler says. Shaler Alias is the president and co-founder of REPAY, a financial technology and payment processing solutions company.
Jarrad Turner’s journey with Shepherd Center began in 2012 when he was a client of the SHARE Military Initiative, which empowers post-9/11 veterans and service members with brain injury to live with hope and purpose by providing high-quality, comprehensive and personalized rehabilitation care.
Jarrad served in the U.S. Army from 2001 to 2010. He was deployed twice and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during his second deployment. In addition to his physical injuries, he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Transitioning from the military to the civilian sector can be tough,” Jarrad says. “There weren’t a lot of programs that knew what to do to help me after I separated from the service. Coming to SHARE allowed me to have some semblance of normalcy and gave me the opportunity to truly understand what I needed.”
Inspired by the care he received, Jarrad joined Shepherd’s Men, an organization comprised of active or retired service members and civilian volunteers that raises awareness and funds for SHARE. He began by participating in the annual Shepherd’s Men Run in 2013 and has been actively involved ever since. Now, he looks forward to stepping into his new role on the Board of Directors to give his unique perspective on how Shepherd Center continues to serve patients and families.
“I am passionate with a purpose,” Jarrad says. “I believe in Shepherd Center and want to be part of the solution. This is my opportunity.”
Vincenzo Piscopo learned of Shepherd Center while he received rehabilitation for a spinal cord injury in 2010. He recalls that while this was a traumatic period in his life, he actually loved his time at the hospital.
“Those months after a traumatic injury are the worst time in peoples’ lives, but Shepherd made me feel so welcome, loved and happy I was there,” Vincenzo says.
One of Vincenzo’s primary goals at Shepherd Center was to prepare to return to work. With help from the rehabilitation specialists at the hospital, he was able to return four months after his injury, ready to navigate the world and his new normal.
Now, 11 years after his injury, Vincenzo serves as the president and CEO of the United Spinal Association, a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of all people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D). As he joins Shepherd Center’s Board of Directors, he hopes to work together to amplify opportunities for all people with disabilities.
“I believe that when you give people with disabilities the opportunities to succeed, the entire community, country and world benefit from this capable group of individuals,” Vincenzo says. “At Shepherd Center, they give patients the opportunity to accept and return to life after a traumatic injury and be as successful as they can be. I’m proud to be part of that.”
In addition to serving as president and CEO of the United Spinal Association, Vincenzo is co-founder of Wheels of Happiness, a nonprofit that provides people with motor disabilities with medical equipment and supplies, scholarships, psychological help, and inspiration to make them independent and more productive.
Bob Cunningham started his involvement with the Shepherd Center in 2011. He was energized when he heard a speaker talk about the SHARE Military Initiative. Bob worked with the Rotary Club of Brookhaven and co-founded a golf tournament to raise funds and awareness for SHARE. The event was named the Service Above Self Invitational Golf Tournament and raised more than $1 million for the program over nine years.
“Through the years of organizing the golf tournament, I learned more about Shepherd Center as a whole and got more involved,” Bob says.
Bob later served on the Advisory Board, as well as the Board of Trustees. During these years, he became more vested in the hospital’s mission.
“Shepherd Center is an amazing place with amazing outcomes,” Bob says. “It helps patients and families realize that a major illness or injury doesn’t mean that life stops. There’s always hope.”
Bob looks forward to contributing to Shepherd Center’s legacy by serving on the Board of Directors.
“We can work to continue the wonderful tradition and culture the Shepherd family has instilled in this hospital as we evolve and grow,” Bob says. “If I can assist with that in any way, it’ll make me proud.”
Bob recently retired from Cunningham Associates Heating and Air Conditioning, a company he founded in 2003.
Written by Damjana Alverson
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.