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avatar for Audrey Vernick

Audrey Vernick

The Brain Recovery Project:
Director, Patient and Family Advocacy
San Francisco, California

Audrey Vernick serves as the Director of Patient and Family Advocacy for The Brain Recovery Project: Childhood Epilepsy Surgery Foundation. Her role is helping patients after epilepsy surgery access medical, educational, vocational, transition, and community living resources across the lifespan. She supports patients and their families in navigating systems, connecting with services, and understanding all areas of disability. Her work involves helping individuals, caregivers, and school teams interpret the impact of any impairments the patient may have in educational and real-world settings.

 
Audrey’s first son, Bennett, suffered a stroke in utero which caused chronic, unrelenting infantile spasms while on 6 different medications for 30 months before he underwent a right hemispherectomy at age 2 ½, resulting in complete seizure freedom. He had a shunt placed five years later to resolve subsequent hydrocephalus. Today, he remains seizure-free. This experience led her to become a parent and patient advocate and to explore the long-term functional outcomes of hemispherectomy and other resective surgeries for epilepsy.

Audrey has been recognized on the state and national level for her advocacy in the area of disability rights and empowering parents of children with special needs, as well as her commitment to inclusion and ability awareness. She was Support for Families 2010 Honoree, where she received an award for her community service work through Camp Bennett, a constraint-induced movement therapy camp that she founded and ran in 2010-2011. In addition, she received a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano in recognition of her “unwavering commitment to… the children of our underserved communities.”

Audrey is an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). She completed COPAA’s Special Education Advocate Training (SEAT) in 2016 and earned the Advanced Advocate Training Certificate in 2018. Audrey also worked as a special education advocate for the Community Alliance for Special Education (CASE) in San Francisco from 2016 until 2018. She is a certified "Future Planner" via The Arc (2020). In 2021, Audrey underwent the Community Health Worker Training Curriculum for Epilepsy Self-Management and was trained as a Memory Coach for HOBSCOTCH (HOme Based Self-management and COgnitive Training CHanges lives), a behavioral program designed to address memory and attention problems for people who have epilepsy (part of the Managing Epilepsy Well Network). She also sits on the HOBSCOTCH Youth Advisory Committee and is part of the Rare Epilepsy Network (REN) Adult Issues Task Force as well as the Infantile Spasms Action Network (ISAN).

Audrey spent the first 15 years of her career as a photojournalist, author, and teacher. Her photographs have appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide, including The New York Times, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek. She published two photography books, ‘Picture the Girl’ and ‘Unveiled,’ which use images and interviews to provide an intimate view of the lives of teenage girls and married couples, respectively. Audrey received a B.A. in journalism from San Francisco State University. She also taught photography at a private high school for 13 years. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, two sons, and their dog, Ruby.

My Speakers Sessions

Thursday, July 21
 

9:00am MDT

 
Friday, July 22
 

10:15am MDT

11:30am MDT

2:00pm MDT

3:30pm MDT

4:30pm MDT

 
Saturday, July 23
 

2:00pm MDT

3:15pm MDT

 

My Moderators Sessions

Friday, July 22
 

10:15am MDT

11:30am MDT

2:00pm MDT

4:30pm MDT

 
Saturday, July 23
 

2:00pm MDT