Board of Directors & Staff

Our Board of Directors

  • Mark Gannon, Esq. – Board Chair
  • LuRae Ahrendt, RN, CRRN, CCM, CLCP – Vice Board Chair
  • Kathryn Waybright – Secretary
  • Catherine Mickle, CPA – Treasurer
  • Dick Brookfield
  • Humberto Izquierdo, Esq.
  • Jennifer Broom, MPH, RN
  • Jim Long, Esq.
  • Lorie Hutcheson
  • Robert Glass, Esq.
  • Wanda Staebell
  • Yogita Tailor, DO
  • Ex-officio: Cindi Johnson, MA, CBIST – Executive Director, Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse

Our Staff

Alexis Torres, MA is our Development Director. She has previously worked with local nonprofits like Southface Energy Institute and the Georgia Conservancy. At Side by Side, she looks for opportunities to partner with those in the community who want to make a positive contribution in the lives of people with brain injuries and their families.

Amirah Pittman, BSA, CBIS joined as a knowledgeable volunteer after completing a year-long research project at Georgetown University School of Medicine, on the Cognitive Rehabilitation of Traumatic Brain Injury. She earned a Biological Science degree from UGA and now works full time as a Work Unit Coordinator.

Bill Francis, MA, LMSW, CBIS joined the staff after completion of a Masters in Social Work at the University of Georgia. He brings the experience of having worked 3 years at an in-patient neurobehavioral center as both a neurobehavioral counselor and a case manager. Bill brings a wealth of experience working with persons of various backgrounds, particularly marginalized populations.

Cindi Johnson, MA, CBIST is our founder and Executive Director. Cindi has worked with people disabled by brain injury as a cognitive rehabilitation therapist, administrator and author since 1986.

Greta Ann Hurst, BA has been our Office Manager since 2004. Her extensive background in administrative support and her 16+ years of caring for her brother who had a brain injury make her a great resource for members, staff, and families.

Jason Hughes BS, MSHSA has worked in the Human Services field for over ten years. Jason comes to the Clubhouse from the Shepherd Center, which he began in 2010. At Shepherd, Jason worked with military patients who acquired brain injuries.

Judy Wissing, MS, CRC, CBIS is our Vocational Specialist. She assists Clubhouse members in our work preparation program including job development activities and volunteer placements. She has worked in brain injury rehabilitation and taught psychology coursework at the college level before coming to Side by Side.

Ken Foster, BA, BSW joined the staff after completing a social work internship at Side by Side. He brings a wealth of professional support experience such as a foster care case manager, corrections officer, teacher, and military service member. He brings such patience, competence, and compassion to his work that we asked him to change career plans and join Side by Side full time.

Melissa Holmes, BS joined us as a volunteer and intern during college. After earning a degree in Psychology & Human Services, she joined our full time staff and brings a fresh energy and healthy perspective as a Work Unit Coordinator in the Kitchen Unit.

Natalie King, MSOT, OTR/L, CBIS joined Side by Side after completion of her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy degree from Brenau University. As an Occupational Therapist, Natalie enjoys working with members for Life Skills Training and increasing their independence with instrumental activities of daily living.

Teresa Little, MS, CBIS  is our Program Director who also provides life skills training and service coordination for Clubhouse members. Teresa’s educational background is in psychology and she began working in brain injury rehabilitation in 1995.

Viviana Finol, MPA joined Side by Side after completion of her Master’s Degree in Public Administration. As a Quality Assurance Coordinator, Viviana develops and monitors policies and procedures, assists with accreditation process, and coordinates activities in accordance with current CARF standards.

On-call Staff

N’Dia Baulding

Rob Pegel, R.L.S.

Tanya Palmer










  • My name is Matt. I currently work two days a week at Side by Side as a member in the business unit. Prior to my brain injury, I played tennis. I currently hold the record for wins in Tennis at Belmont University, where I played #2 singles my first 2 years and #1 doubles all four years.  I played #1 singles my last 2 years. Now, I still play tennis with my son on occasion.  I never let him win.

    Matt’s Tennis Experience
  • Hello my name is Jared, and I am a member over at Side by Side. I work in the Business Unit. I am a Basketball Athlete, and have been out of school for almost 2 years but not quite. I feel like the Clubhouse Family has really helped me out a lot.

    The 2 years I have been in rehab has been a learning experience ha-ha, but fun in the same way. It has really taught me that this is not something that happens overnight. Side by Side is an excellent place for people who have had Setbacks.

    Jared’s First Blog
  • I have found that Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse has made me aware that I am not the only person who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury. I REALLY appreciate the opportunity to participate in something more constructive than sulking by myself being depressed about my present predicament. This serves no productive purpose. It only adds to my frustration and makes me upset for no apparent reason. Firstly, I have realized that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I am able to speak with other people who also are recovering from TBI (traumatic Brain Injury) this helps me by letting me know that there is more to life than being miserable or angry at whomever for no obvious reason in particular, I understand that if I approach life with a positive attitude that I will succeed in anything on which I focus my attention for that, I am extremely appreciative. I am starting to feel human for the first time in over four years!

    Forever thankful,


    “What I Get from Side by Side” by Bil
  • “My name is Felicia, I am relatively new to the clubhouse, and recently went to my first ladies’ luncheon. My injury was sustained three years ago during a surgery to remove a brain tumor. What was supposed to be a routine 3-5 hour procedure resulted in a massive right hemisphere stroke, five additional surgeries, left-sided paralysis, a medically induced three week coma, seizures, and the bleak prognosis of “at best, she’ll be a vegetable!” An emergency transfer to the top rehabilitation hospital in the nation specializing in spinal cord & brain injury rehabilitation all of which I had to be told about, when I woke up. I thought I was in the recovery room from the initial brain surgery, when in reality the aforementioned had occurred, I could not breathe, eat or walk on my own and had to relearn how to do each  so “ I woke up like this”  has a much deeper meaning to me than Beyoncé’s superficial  vain and  “flawless” message. In my former life, as I refer to my life pre-stroke I worked with several private practice  OB/GYN offices as a phlebotomist that was requested by everyone.  One of the bonuses of working for a private practice in the healthcare field is the many delicious lunches and on occasions dinner outings provided by the pharmaceutical reps it was during these times that staff became more than just coworkers and could enjoy each other’s’ friendship relating through OMG!-stories about the husband, children,  and past life experiences, These friendships   showed up strong during my injury and were one of the best supports  throughout recovery. The ladies’ luncheon reminded me of those fun times and the beginning building blocks of great friendships I look forward to attending many more!”

    My First Ladies’ Luncheon by Felicia
  • I feel very good about being a member of this Clubhouse. It gives me something to look forward to every Tuesday and Thursday. One beautiful thing about the Clubhouse is the dedication and compassion of staff who understand the challenges members go through every day of their lives.

    Today has been a particularly good day for me because after feeling down earlier, I had the chance to speak with Neil about my situation. He was not only supportive of my situation, but also very encouraging.

    I have also learned a lot by interacting with fellow survivors of brain injury by discussing some of our daily challenges with them. It is helpful to know that I am not alone in my journey to get better.


    George, not alone in recovery
  • My name is Myron and I’m currently a new member here at Side by Side Clubhouse. I have only been here for two weeks but the experience has been monumental in my life. Side by Side is deeply involved in the community and have numerous events and tasks that allow for their members to take part in. Upon the first few days, I learned about the Lawyers/Doctors basketball game, the Game Night, the tasks of the different departments that are presently here, and the value of working together. Each day is an opportunity for me to learn something new and the members here are outstanding. My views on the effects of TBI injuries have changed since the days I was in the hospital recovering. My thoughts in the past were that my injury would prevent me from doing a lot of things in life that I enjoyed before injury. This program is great, because it’s showing me that being productive and remaining positive is definitely possible. Also, separating me from others or choosing to do things on my own is not the best method to take. I’m now more receptive of doing things in teams and working with others.


    Meet Myron
  • For my Blog today I am choosing to discuss my love of the Side by Side Clubhouse which I’ve been a member of for the last 10 years.  Oh and today was noteworthy in the fact that my driver Carson returned from his vacation in New Smyrna Beach, Fla’.  He told me that he’d had a great vacation but there was a lot of sea weed.  OK I’ll get back to my love of my House o’ Clubage.  It’s the folks here that I truly enjoy being around, such as Rob and Emma for example and their outgoing niceness.


    Clubhouse Love–(thanks, Frank, we love you too!)
  • Hello everybody out there, my name is Javon and I attend the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse. I got my brain injury a little over 2 years ago and coming to Side by Side has helped me. Since I have started coming here it helps me to be surrounded by other people with traumatic brain injuries and not being judged by what I can and can’t do.


    Meet Javon
  • I learn something new every day.  I absolutely love coming to the clubhouse.  Looking forward to coming here is wonderful for me.  I prepare the night before for the next day.  For me, I wake up early, prepare myself, and I’m all the way ready when my transportation comes.  Once I get here I get to socialize, calm down from dealing with all the automobile traffic, and be on time for my meeting in the Business Unit.  While I’m here, I get to learn new things.  My transferrable business skills are utilized. I get to help others in the Business Unit.  It doesn’t cost anything to be friendly to others.  I am being tested on my patience. I need for people to be tolerant with me, and I need to be tolerant with others. The clubhouse helps to teach me the patience that I absolutely need.


    Learning Preparation & Patience at the Clubhouse
  • Today for my Blog I will take a cue from my close friend Mrs. Virginia and go into some of the things I love about my house o’ clubbage these things would be… 1st: staff members who are a nice bunch of people who always remember that it’s a Side by Side Clubhouse and they don’t have to come down on us whenever we slack off for just a second they realize that from time to time we might need to take a breather for just a second.

    2nd: Fellow members.  Just a bunch of great friends & people like myself (cognitively impaired people like myself who aren’t quite ready to return to the work force yet quite often we need to work together to get what we want to complete completed.

    3rd: My main man & driver Mr. Carson. Carson has been my best friend since my injury. I hope that he feels as stongly ‘bout this kid. he must think a great deal of me in that he allows me to listen to whatever I want to on the radio on our long journeys down from North Ga.



    Some things I love about the Clubhouse