Transform Lives. Be the Change.

LAURA D. TAYLOR,

LSCSWNational Director,
Social W
ork Care Management and Social Work Veterans Health Administration

Ms. Taylor was appointed as the National Director, Social Work in May 2014.  In this role, she serves as the principal advisor on Social Work Professional Practice, including providing guidance to the Chief Consultant, Care Management and Social Work, as well as Network and Medical Center Directors, other Patient Care Services program offices, and VA and VHA offices.  Ms. Taylor is responsible for the professional practice of 13,000 masters prepared VHA Social Workers, the largest single employer of Social Workers in the United States of America. Ms. Taylor provides orientation to the role of Social Work Executive and oversees the graduate Social Work training program, with over 900 stipends; the largest Social Work training program nationwide. Ms. Taylor develops national policy for Professional Social Work for VA Central Office, VISN and medical center leaders. In addition, she provides guidance and consultation on Social Work practice within VHA.

CAREER CHRONOLOGY:

National Director, Caregiver Support Program, VA Central Office, Care Management and Social Work Services, Washington, DC 6/2012 – 5/2014

Social Work Executive and Clinical Service Line Director, Extended Care Service, Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center, Wichita, Kansas 3/2006 – 6/2012

Social Worker & Graduate Social Work Student Education Coordinator, Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center, Wichita, Kansas, 1/2003 – 3/2006

Senior Social Worker, Truman Medical Center – Hospital Hill, Kansas City, MO, 5/2001 – 1/2003

Case Manager, Wyandot Mental Health Center – Community Support Services, Kansas City, KS, 6/1997 – 6/2000

EDUCATION:

Masters of Social Welfare, 2001, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

Bachelor of Social Welfare, 1997, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

AWARDS AND HONORS:

Under Secretary for Health Award for Excellence in Social Work Leadership 2011

Practice Excellence Award for Social Work, Wichita State University School of Social Work 2011

Margo Schutz Gordon Award for Excellence in Field Instruction, University of Kansas 2004-2005

Nominee Margo Award of Excellence in Practicum Placement, University of Kansas 1997

Finalist Student Volunteer of the Year, United Way 1997

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS:

National Association of Social Workers, 3/95 – present

Association for VA Social Workers, 5/01 - present

BILL WEDEKIND,

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

Bill Wedekind is the only known blind, bilateral double-hand amputee potter in the world. Born in Manhattan, Kansas in 1949 and the first of five brothers, Bill was inspired to follow the family tradition and join the U.S. Marine Corps in 1967, expecting it to be a life-long career path. On May 25, 1968 his life permanently changed course when he was sent to inspect a defensive perimeter in Vietnam. Bill has never been entirely sure what transpired next other than the fact that he lost both eyes, one ear and two hands. Doctors didn’t expect him to survive the airplane ride home, but he surely did. His Marine spirit kept him fighting to stay alive. One of Bill’s favorite quotes is from Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!” It’s how Bill chose to live his life regardless of any and all challenges that confront him.

Many operations followed, two of which were Krukenburg procedures; the first in 1969 and the second in 1973 at Hines VA Hospital in Chicago. Prosthetics were unsuccessful for Bill and he often says Krukenburg was the best decision he ever made. Bill returned from Vietnam a changed man – physically, mentally and spiritually. It was his grandmother, Myrtle Finchon, who suggested pottery as a possible career. She was quite an accomplished potter in her own right and introduced him to the basics of the craft. He studied under Lee Davis in 1970-71 at Kansas State University. Bill greatly enjoyed working with and learning from Yoshi Akito and Angelo Carzio as well.

Bill married in 1969 and had two beautiful children, Scott and Robin. In June of 1989, Bill married his second wife, Diane, a woman he knew and admired from high school days. She had five children from previous relationships and Bill embraced them all cheerfully. “They came pre-packaged and fully assembled,” he often quips!

Bill has accomplished many things one would not expect from a blind, double-hand amputee, not the least of which is earning an advanced degree license as a ham radio operator and building race cars as a hobby. He also fearlessly uses power tools whenever he feels the need to build another shelf to hold his pottery.

In 1976, the Disabled Veterans Association honored Bill as the Arkansas Disabled Vet of the year. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Combat V in 1968.

In 2010, Bill made the decision to relocate to San Antonio, Texas after visiting for a few speaking engagements in the area. “I didn’t meet a single person I didn’t like,” is his response when asked about his decision to move. Pastor Jones at the Leon Valley Baptist Church and their community have since become family for this potter turned motivational speaker.

Bill has given numerous lectures and pottery demonstrations for a wide array of groups, including disabled veterans, elementary and college students, a minister’s group, correctional facility and pottery guild. He believes that if he can accomplish what he has in his own life, then anyone can succeed in achieving their life’s ambitions. It is Bill’s intention and desire to avail himself to the many young men and women returning from the Middle East, troubled teens or anyone else who needs guidance dealing with life’s many challenges.

Sasha Randolph,

Senior Recruitment Coordinator, University of Kansas Medical Center, Rural Health Education and Services

Sasha is one of our Senior Recruitment Coordinators for the University of Kansas Medical Center, Rural Health Education and Services. Sasha has over 15 years’ experience in business development, creating relationships to grow businesses, and recruiting business leaders. Sasha enjoys using her business and relationship skills background to assist rural health care organizations in recruiting health care professionals to serve the rural and underserved areas of the great state of Kansas.

 

ANDREA DALTON,

MA, MT-BC, Special Projects Coordinator
Center for Trauma Informed Innovation
Truman Medical Centers-Behavioral Health, Kansas City, MO

Andrea Dalton, MA, MT-BC, worked as a music therapist in inpatient mental health and residential nursing facilities for 12 years prior to joining the Center for Trauma Informed Innovation. She established and continues to serve as the director of the music therapy internship in the inpatient behavioral health units at Truman Medical Centers. She draws on her experiences in trauma-sensitive clinical services and program development to provide training and consultation to advance compassion, resilience, and well-being.

 

RUSSELL ANDERSON,

MPA, Special Projects Coordinator
Center for Trauma Informed Innovation
Truman Medical Centers-Behavioral Health, Kansas City, MO

Russell Anderson is a native of Denver, CO and has lived in the Kansas City Metro area since 2006. Prior to working for Truman Medical Center Behavioral Health he spent four years working as a program manager in homeless services for My Father’s House Community Services of Paola, KS and Kim Wilson Housing of Kansas City, KS. His current focuses are the implementation of Trauma Sensitive Schools and Trauma Informed Care. Russell received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) and his Masters in Public Administration at the UMKC Bloch School of Management.

 

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