Board of Directors

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Who We Are

We are a passionate group of people who are dedicated to building The Lionheart Community. We hope to fill more local needs of the SCI/D community. We are a 100% volunteer based board. More than half of the board lives with paralysis and comes rich in SCI/D life experience. If you are interested in joining and contributing to the TLC board please send an email to

Char Vine
CEO / Executive Director

Char has a background in marketing and design. She graduated Art Institute of Philadelphia with a degree in visual communications and also earned a web design degree from American River College. In 2000 Char sustained her spinal cord injury from breaking her T 11 vertebra in a snowboarding fall. She leads a healthy and active lifestyle and likes physical challenges that push her limits. You will often see her biking or hiking around. She has had a passion for helping others and has been supporting the SCI/D community for a most of her injury in a variety of ways. She is a certified peer mentor with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Sutter Medical Center and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. She has been able to put all her experience behind creating TheLionheart.Community. If you want to learn more about her journey check out her website or social media.


Michelle O-Brien
CFO / Treasurer

Michelle earned her Business Administration / Accounting degree from California State University, Fresno. Michelle has worked for Ernst & Young, LLP as a Financial Auditor, The California State Department of Justice as an Investigative Auditor with the Charitable Trusts Division and Brittania Pacific Properties as a GAAP Accountant. Since 2018 Michelle has been balancing her accounting career as an independent contractor specializing in the non-profit sector and her newest adventure as a flight attendant. Michelle was personally affected by SCI in 2000 when her brother was injured in a car accident, resulting in a C-3, C-4 injury. When she isn't crunching numbers or flying the friendly skies, Michelle can be found on the sideline of a Rugy Pitch cheering on her 3 daughters and their coach, her husband Mike.

Misty Marez

In 2002 Misty was headed to UC Santa Cruz for a degree in Marine Biology, ready to spend her life at sea. A car accident changed her life plan, a week before her high school graduation. The accident left Misty completely paralyzed at C 1-2. Sustaining the highest injury to the spine, she is not able to breath on her own and uses a ventilator. She feels fortunate to have a mom that would not give up and sent her to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. Her mom stayed by her side as she went through many surgeries and complications, and has continued to be there for her. Misty has accomplished many many things since the injury. She earned her BS in biology from Stanislaus State. She is a certified peer mentor with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and with Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. She keeps busy mentoring others with SCI's, including the newly injured.  In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, going to concerts, festivals, and doing anything outdoors. She has learned that SCI life can be difficult, but with friends, family, and others in the SCI community she always feels supported. She is eager and honored to serve The Lionheart Community as the Secretary and also as the Modesto area liaison.


Dr. Dave Gillespie
Vice President

Dave was born and raised on a farm in rural Oklahoma, where he fell in love with exploring and studying the natural world. He attended the University of Oklahoma and earned a BS in microbiology/chemistry in 1993, then went to the University of New Mexico for a PhD in biomedical sciences with a molecular biology emphasis in 2000. This was followed up by a short postdoc studying the genetics of type 2 diabetes. Along the way, he got married and has 3 sons. Dr. Gillespie then joined the University of Utah Huntsman Cancer institute as a postdoc studying brain cancer. In 2007, he was welcomed to the department of Neurosurgery and Huntsman Cancer Institute as a research track faculty. On December 24th, 2007 he was in a snowboarding accident and was left completely paralyzed below T6 (sternum level). Though this was quite a setback, his love of science motivated him to work hard so he could return to the lab, which he did 9 months later with the help of many people. In 2010 he went through peer support training at the University of Utah. Since then, his research interests have ranged far and wide, collaborating with many labs on many cancer-related projects. He found TLC through social media and is our VP and Salt Lake City liaison. In 2023 he completed his peer mentor certification with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. 


Adora Matthews, MD, FAAPMR

Dr. Adora Matthews has extensive experience in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). She currently serves as the Medical Director of Sutter Rehabilitation Institute, she is also the Medical Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Sutter Roseville Medical Center and the Medical Director for Neurorehabilitation Services at Sutter Medical Center Sacramento. Dr. Matthews is board certified in both spinal cord injury medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation. She is the only doctor north of San Jose who specializes in SCI/D. The community is lucky to have her in the Greater Sacramento Area and serving on the TLC board. Dr Matthews’ hobbies include cooking and gardening, and she is an avid Barbie fan.

Pat Blair

Pat is a healthcare executive with extensive rehabilitation service line experience. He’s been working with Sutter Health over since the early 1990's. He is currently serving as the Sutter Valley Hospital's Rehabilitation Services Executive and is the Sutter Rehabilitation Institute Administrator. Pat is a licensed occupational therapist with a graduate degree in public administration. He previously served on the Easter Seals of Superior California Board of Directors. Pat enjoys spending time with his family and being outdoors.

Chuck McAvoy

Chuck retired from Kaiser Permanente IT in 2010. At Kaiser he served as the Chair of the Kaiser Permanente Employees with Disabilities Association and has continued to work with a number of business and community organizations on issues pertaining to people with disabilities. Particular emphasis has been on employment disparities, healthcare disparities and access to healthcare for the disability community. Chuck is the former Board of Directors president of the Oakland based AXIS Dance Company, a world leader in the field of integrated dance. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of Disability Rights Advocates. He has served four terms on the Community Advisory Panel for the Kaiser Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health, also serving on the RPGEH Bioethics Advisory Panel as well as the community advisor for the Access Review Committee.  He completed peer support with UC Davis Medical Center and spent the next nine years being a mentor for them. In 2010 Chuck established Kinetic Designs where he does metal sculpture and custom metal design. Chuck sustained his spinal cord injury at the T-4 level in 1983 in a motorcycle accident.