Deborah M. Benson, PhD, ABPP is the founder and director of Common Ground Alliance, president of the board of directors, and current volunteer. Dr. Benson is a New York State Licensed Psychologist specializing in rehabilitation neuropsychology, who has been working with individuals with brain injury and their families for over 30 years. She earned her PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology in 1992 from the City University of NY-Queens College, and is Board Certified in Rehabilitation Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). She is a member of the American Psychological Association and National Academy of Neuropsychology.
Dr. Benson served as the Director of Transitions of Long Island, a post-acute neuro-rehabilitation program of the Northwell Health System from 1998-2008, and is currently employed as an Associate Vice President of Clinical Services at Paradigm, a national catastrophic care management company. Dr. Benson also offers care planning/resource facilitation consultations for persons with neurological injuries/illnesses and their families on Long Island.
Dr. Benson has served on the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of New York State (BIANYS), and was the recipient of that organization’s Consumer Advocacy award in 2006 and Champion of Hope award in 2009. She also served on the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council from 2005-2008 and was on the advisory board of the Coma Recovery Association. Dr. Benson received the BIANYS Founder’s Award in 2011 and was inducted into the Long Island Volunteer Center’s Hall of Fame that same year, in recognition for establishing Common Ground Alliance as a local resource for brain injury survivors and families. She is currently on the board of directors of Kid’s Chance of New York, a charitable organization that provides need-based college/vocational scholarships to children of injured workers. Dr. Benson co-edited the textbook Acquired Brain Injury: An Integrative Team Approach (Springer, 2007), and was co-author of the cognitive rehabilitation workbook Functional Memory Manual. She has presented on numerous topics related to recovery, rehabilitation and long-term wellness after brain injury at regional and national conferences.
Reby Rosenfield, MPA, MSC. holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Psychology, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. She also has a Minister in Spiritual Counseling degree from the New Seminary Interfaith Ministry and is an ordained Interfaith Minister. Reby’s primary work is as a pharmaceutical research consultant. She has also been a Yoga and Aikido practitioner for over 20 years, and is certified as a Therapeutic Yoga Facilitator from the Integral Yoga Teacher Training Institute in New York City. In addition to being a Board member, Reby leads periodic Yoga, Stretching and Mediation groups, and coordinates the Guest Speaker program at CGA.
Jean Kirk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who worked at the International Center for the Disabled in NYC for many years before joining Paradigm in 2013. Dr. Kirk is also an adjunct professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. Jean leads the ever popular Game Night at Common Ground.
Paul Livanos is a multi-instrumentalist with a background in classical guitar and composition. He plays a variety of instruments including guitar, mandolin, ukulele, sitar, bass guitar, harmonica, piano, and drums. Paul co-leads the Music Group with Nick Kellar. Together they have a blast working with members to open up their minds by listening to new artists and various genres of music. Occasionally they break out the instruments and everyone joins in for a group jam. If you are interested in learning more about the world of music then this is the group for you.
Nick Kellar is not only co-leader of The Music Group with Paul Livanos, he is also a TBI Survivor. His passion for music evolved after his injury. Music has helped heal him physically, mentally and emotionally. He plays the drums, electric guitar and piano. Together with Paul, they create fun and exciting music groups interacting with CGA members.
Linda Adelstein Watson is an artist who studied at School of Visual Arts in New York City. She displays her portraits all over Long Island and curates the Expressions Gallery for North Shore Art Guild. Linda brings unique perspective as a teacher, having used art to help deal with her own health challenges; and uses this experience and wisdom to help others discover the healing power of art. Join Linda for a fun and relaxing paint class – no experience necessary! All materials are provided, with step by step instructions to create a different painting in each class.
Deborah M. Benson, President
Rebecca Rosenfeld, Vice President, Treasurer
Patricia Kearney, Secretary