Mission: NMD United is a non-profit organization composed of adults living with neuromuscular disabilities. This peer-led organization will foster meaningful interactions and provide informational resources to increase self-direction while promoting independence.
Meet the Team
Emily Wolinsky, President
Emily was diagnosed at 18 months of age with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (type 3). Raised in small country town in Upstate New York, she spent most of her life dreaming of sunshine. From 1995-1999, Emily attended Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and a minor in psychology. Shortly after finishing her undergraduate studies, Emily’s dream of sunny days came true and she moved to Austin, Texas. She has lived independently in Austin for fifteen years, managing her own personal care attendants through a Consumer Directed Services program funded by a state program for working Texans with personal care needs called CMPAS.
After serving for two years with the AmeriCorps as a para-professional and school social worker, Emily returned to college and attended The University of Texas at Austin to obtain her secondary teacher’s certification. In 2003, Emily began a seven-year period as a high school English electives teacher. She utilized vocational rehabilitation services to meet her transportation goals and bought her first home and modified vehicle in 2006. In 2010, Emily began a graduate program in counseling and changed her career focus to the non-profit sector. She worked for a Center for Independent Living for a brief period and was hired at the Texas State Independent Living Council in February 2012. In the fall of 2012, Emily was promoted to Project Director of the Texas SILC and graduated with a Master of Arts in counseling from Prairie View A&M University. In May of 2013, Emily was offered a position at Austin Community College to work in the Office for Students with Disabilities and returned to the world of education. This fall, she will return to Prairie View A&M University to pursue a second master’s degree through the department of Educational Leadership.
When she’s not working, Emily spends her free time with her two dogs, boyfriend, playing poker, and contemplating a way to conquer the perils behind the legend of pee math.
T.K. Small, Vice President and Interim Treasurer
T.K. Small has been an attorney since 1994 and is a graduate of Long Island University and Brooklyn Law School, practicing primarily in the field of Disability Law representing both organizations and individuals. Until March 2013, Mr. Small was on retainer with the New York State Independent Living Council, advising on issues concerning, Housing, Healthcare, Election Reform, etc.. During his time with NYSILC, Mr. Small was the co-project coordinator of the NYSILC Housing Institute which was created to promote accessible, affordable and integrated housing opportunities for people with disabilities. On behalf of individuals, T.K. Small fights for community-based services and pursues Americans with Disabilities Act enforcement through litigation and/or mediation.
Currently, T.K. Small is the Director of Policy & Outreach for Concepts of Independence, Inc., New York State’s first and largest vendor of Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. With his new position, the primary area of responsibility is to assist Concepts in navigating the waters of Consumer Directed Care in light of the governmental move toward managed care.
Mr. Small is a member of a numerous Disability Rights groups including: Not Dead Yet, ADAPT and Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York. He is also a co-host of a radio program called “The Largest Minority” which focuses on disability news and culture. The program is heard the second and fourth Wednesday of every month on WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York City.
Lorinda Gonzalez, Secretary
Lorinda, age 29, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of three, and has used a motorized wheelchair for mobility since the age of nine. Born in Queens, New York, Lorinda has had the opportunity to reside in a total of five states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Sunny Florida. Her multiple residences has allowed Lorinda to learn how to navigate the Medicaid and disability services throughout the east coast of the United States.
As an avid reader and editor, Lorinda has worked as a Writing Consultant and Editor since 2009. With the help of her family, it has grown to become a successful endeavor. She now services clients in the areas of Academia, Grant Writing, Authoring, and International Services. She has had the honor of editing published literature in fiction, memoir, and biography. One of her most recent projects was acknowledged by the NAACP as “…one of the most dynamic memoirs in modern history.”
As a graduate from Florida Atlantic University, Lorinda holds a Bachelor in the Arts Degree in English Writing and Rhetoric, as well as a comprehensive minor in Health Care Technology and Corporate Business. Prior to 2009, Lorinda was employed in the field of Human Resources, where she worked directly under the executive director primarily on employment and retention processes. In her free time, Lorinda enjoys researching interesting topics, writing journalistic articles, and traveling. She is currently attending Graduate School, with a major in Communications. She plans on using her degree to build her writing, editing, publishing, and journalistic skills.
Greg Smith, Director
Greg Smith was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of three, has dealt with congestive heart failure and the loss of his home to Katrina, but he has overcome all this and more to lead a successful career as a radio host, author, motivational speaker and advocate for people with disabilities.
Known as “The Strength Coach,” Smith, a 1986 graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, self-describes as “skin and bones.” He uses a power wheelchair to get around and weighs only 65 pounds. In 1992, he created On A Roll – Talk Radio on Life & Disability, which became nationally syndicated and established him as a thought provoking leader on disability issues and self-determination.
Smith is a motivational speaker (member, National Speakers Association), author and broadcaster. In the PBS documentary film, On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream, his story was presented to millions of viewers in 2005. His book, On A Roll: Reflections from America’s Wheelchair Dude with the Winning Attitude, was published that same year. Then, his career suffered two major setbacks: He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and Hurricane Katrina destroyed his family’s home, forcing him into a nursing home for six months and a depression that lasted years.
He has rebounded from those setbacks and recently moved from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Phoenix, Arizona where he is close to his three children, Greg Jr. (23), Donovan (21), and Berkeley (18). He continues to be a sought-after speaker, while managing his blog and podcast at www.TheStrengthCoach.com.
Maria Sotnikova, Director
Maria was born in Moscow, Russia and diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at 11 months. At the age of four, and shortly after the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, her family moved to the United States in pursuit of a better life, liberty, and happiness.
Now 28 years old, Maria holds degrees in City Planning, Public Policy, and Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. A Jack-of-all-trades, she works as a Mobility Manager at the Atlanta Regional Commission. Her work’s primary focus lies within identifying and implementing effective, efficient, and affordable means of increasing transportation options for seniors and individuals with disabilities. Outside the office, Maria enjoys long walks on the BeltLine (a local Atlanta trail), taking in live music and public art, and advocating for inclusive and accessible communities.
Jeff Hoffman, Director
Jeffery Hoffman studied Digital Animation at the School of Communication Arts in Raleigh, North Carolina and is the former Chief Technology Officer at Nuance Labs. A self-professed “tech nerd”, Hoffman wrote his first line of BASIC programming code at age seven. Today, he’s a seasoned digital executive, leader, and strategist, who has been designing and developing for the Web since the Web was born.
Born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Jeff is the founder and first administrator of Living with M.D., a peer-support group for adults (18+) living with Muscular Dystrophy/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. This private Facebook support group for adults with neuromuscular disabilities has a growing and diverse membership, representing 10+ countries. Living with M.D. discusses a wide range of topics including health care, personal care assistants, medical equipment, social security, employment, etc., with the goal of helping one another. Without Jeff Hoffman, NMD United would never have been conceived. Jeff joined the board in June of 2015.
Jason Tweed, Director
Jason Tweed is Managing Partner at Mediastead LLC., a marketing agency in Pennsylvania specializing in web and mobile app development. A serial entrepreneur, Mediastead is the fourth web-based company Jason has built. Additionally, he’s a sought after marketing consultant, particularly among home health care companies.
Jason was diagnosed at 13 months old with Werdnig-Hoffmann Syndrome, a form of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (type II).
Jason is author of several books, including his first, Colleges That Enable. This guide published prior to the ADA established the first set of accessibility criteria on US college campuses. The minimum level of accessibility, at the time of its publishing, was only achieved by 41 colleges prior to the guide. This minimum level is now accepted as the standard and is currently available at more than 2400 campuses nationwide as well as most community colleges and private universities. Jason is proud that his book published in 1989 is completely obsolete today.
Jason lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife, Kristen, and his teenage twins, Jason and Ainsley.
In Memorium of Alex Landis, Co-Founder and Treasurer
NMD United would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to the family of Alex Landis, 27 year old co-founder, Treasurer, and friend of this organization, who died much too soon on Sunday, June 28th, 2015. Our Board feels this loss deeply. Alex was our glamorous, brilliant, and industrious magic genie in a virtual bottle, making our big ideas come to fruition on a daily basis. She designed our logo, website, and helped write our first community Needs Assessment. She spent a total of three years and hundreds of hours bringing a community of over 800 adults with neuromuscular disabilities together.
Alex intended to make the success of NMD United part of her legacy, and as a board, we will not rest until her vision is fully realized. In the next months, as we grieve and process her physical absence, we will embody her spirit and zest for living to push ourselves forward. Alex will never be forgotten.
NMD United has created the Alex Landis Emergency Fund, which purchases equipment and services for adults with NMD when other funding sources fail to provide adequate coverage for an emergency repair or need. This Emergency Fund was one of the projects Alex envisioned, and is now named in her honor.