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2021 GHSIG Programming Chair Candidates
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Global Health SIG Elections

GHSIG Programming Chair Candidates

hover textMaria Aguila, PT, DPT
Livingston, NJ

Biographical Statement
As a first generation immigrant in 2002 and PT professional, I had no awareness about the APTA. This was before the internet became part of the fabric of life. It was through the Professionalism class at Rutgers Newark, through my mentors’ passion for the profession did I became aware of what the APTA does in my behalf. Once I learned about the APTA and was exposed to mentors who embody Professionalism and Service to the PT Profession, it was impossible to ignore. Since then me and my husband who is a fellow PT, have been active members of the APTA as this is one of the ways that we are able to pay forward for the hard work of those who served before us. As immigrants, the PT profession was the instrument for the privileges we enjoy as citizens of the United States, and our gratitude and felt a sense of responsibility to pay forward, hence our advocacy.

Prior to my migration to the States, I worked in Sales and Marketing positions for a multinational pharmaceutical company for three years following my PT graduation. The clinical practice conditions in the Philippines was not conducive to both personal and professional growth at that time which sadly continues to this day. This is why I am actively involved in the pursuit of accessible higher global PT education in the hope of improving local PT education and practice in my country of origin.

My interest has always been in outpatient orthopedic PT but when I started my practice in the States, I purposely worked in different settings to have a better understanding of the continuum of care. I had an ICU, in-patient hospital and nursing home experiences and had a variety of outpatient physical therapy practices and cultures. It has been 10 years since my husband and I decided to establish our own community based outpatient PT practice where we found our calling to be a part of the fabric of the community. 

Candidate Statement
As part of the healthcare team, the Physical Therapy profession is forefront in dealing with the growing diversity of this country. We are in a position to collaborate with other professions locally and globally to better understand the patients/communities we serve. We can help educate our colleagues, patients and communities to shed light and understanding in the differences in beliefs and practices of each culture. The advances in evidence based practice, technology and innovation that we are privileged with in the West needs to be applied in context to the other cultures globally to truly serve the needs of the global population. These hard facts need to be tempered by soft skills where mindfulness, empathy and respectful communication are key.

My background as an Internationally Educated PT who has acculturated to the American lifestyle and raising my family here in the States while maintaining my cultural heritage gives me an insight on global health perspective of both the Eastern and Western cultures. From what I have learned in almost two decades of PT practice and global PT education, combining the best of both worlds benefits the global society.

As a Global Health SIG Programming Chair, my aim is to contribute to a stronger and more empathetic PT profession by building bridges between the different cultures through education. I would like my fellow global PTs to learn best practices from other cultures that we can adapt and improve in the different spaces we belong in. 


hover textCheryl Kerfeld, PT, MS, PhD
Seattle, WA

Biographical Statement
Dr. Kerfeld has over 30 years of patient care, administration, teaching, and research experience primarily in the areas of rehabilitation and pediatrics. She is currently working as a school-based physical therapist and educator leader in Seattle Public Schools, Seattle, Washington. She has a strong interest in global health and culturally competent health care where she has traveled to Armenia, Nepal, and Thailand assisting with community participatory research and the development of rehabilitation teaching and clinical programs for children with disabilities. She was the founding faculty advisor for the Global Rehabilitation Organization at Washington (GROW) a rehabilitation inter-professional student run global health service learning program at the University of Washington. Dr. Kerfeld's research interests include global maternal child health, health disparities, cultural competency, child-reported outcome measures, and health and fitness of children with disabilities. She has been a recipient of grants for research and program implementation to improve the quality of education and community participation of children with disabilities. 

Candidate Statement
I have been a member of HPA since 1996 and the GHSIG since 1991 (previously called CCISIG) and have been very active in supporting HPA/GHSIG through attending APTA CSM/Annual meetings/educational programs (Global Health receptions), helping with committee activities, and promoting the involvement of other therapists and students in HPA/GHSIG activities. I truly enjoyed my recent involvement in the GHSIG leadership team as the Chair of the Nominating Committee and hope to continue my involvement as the Programming Chair. I have been very impressed with the growth of HPA/GHSIG and the respect these organizations have gained within APTA. To continue this growth, as the Programming Chair, I will promote programming proposals for CSM and other professional venues that have social responsibility and/or global health as a focus. I feel I am in a good position to help with this endeavor through my connections within the Section/SIG and other global health associations along with my volunteer involvement in past program planning. Thank you for considering my candidacy request. 


hover textCynthia Potter, PT, DPT, MS
Wexford, PA

Biographical Statement
Dr. Cynthia Potter completed her DPT at Slippery Rock University, Master’s in Health Related Professions with focus on developmental disabilities and Certificate in Physical Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh. She earned her B.S. from Allegheny College with Biology and English writing majors. She is a former tenured Associate Professor at Slippery Rock University. Her primary areas of focus in teaching included pediatrics, health care systems, health policy, and ethics. With over 40 years of experience as an educator, business owner, and clinician, she has a special interest in global health. Dr. Potter has provided clinical services and presented internationally on 23 international trips with many different organizations. She has traveled to Peru with students from Regis University and Slippery Rock University. She is the President of the Board of Honduras Hope Mission, Inc., a non-profit which provides medical and educational services in Honduras and led the organization through the process to establish the 501(c)3. Honduras Hope Mission has provided services in a rural agricultural town in Honduras since 2006. She is currently the Chair of the Pennsylvania State Board of Physical Therapy and has been reappointed to her fourth term on the Board. She continues clinical work with children and adults with developmental disabilities in ICF/IDD and school settings.

Candidate Statement
I believe that I have an ideal background to serve well in the position of GHSIG Program Chair based on my past education, clinical, and volunteer experiences. I have long been interested in Global Health as evidenced by my engagement with a variety of organizations providing international service. My interests, knowledge, and energy have become increasingly drawn to global health issues through serving as President of a non-profit providing services in Honduras. Learning to engage the community there to identify their own needs and be part of developing solutions has been a rich experience and has provided important lessons to all involved. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of how interconnected we all are and has especially focused us on the many issues where the GHSIG can make an impact – recognizing and understanding health disparities, providing education and forum for discussion, facilitating community engagement to address issues, and generating creative solutions that work for particular communities. It would be an honor to serve as Programming Chair to identify what programming is desired and needed by GHSIG members and designing programs and formats to help each member maximize their contributions to their local, state, national and international communities. The excellent past programming of the GHSIG provides the springboard to continue the deeper work regarding the important contribution of physical therapists. 

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