SAO Board Members

Our mission is fulfilled through partnerships with volunteers, donors, businesses and the medical community.

Jim Patterson, President

David Seck, Vice President

Lawnae Hunter, Treasurer

Ralph Cortese

Ralph Cortese

Libby Hawley

Christin Hunter

Christin Hunter

Mindy Laidlaw

Robert Ludwick

Steve McDonald

Stephen McDonald

Norwyn Newby

Gerry O’Brien

Chris Piper

Ayryn Seiler

Stephen Van Houten



David grew up just outside of Chicago where a slew of sports injuries sent him to physical therapy and on his own journey to become a physical therapist. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee with a double major in Biomedical Sciences/Psychology and from the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program. There, he continued to foster his service learning through multiple medical missions trips to South America, adaptive sports volunteering, and as a volunteer for special olympics.  After graduating, he moved to California to escape the cold winters and work at Centre For Neuro Skills where he met his lovely wife Shannon. At CNS he developed a passion for treating individuals who have experienced traumatic brain injuries and stroke which inspired him to pursue further specialization. David passed his test to become a Board Certified Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy (NCS) and has also pursued many other specialty certifications in neurologic physical therapy, including his Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist (CSRS). David and Shannon opened up Spark Rehab and Wellness in Bend, Oregon to further meet a need for specialized neurological rehabilitation in the community where they work with other outstanding physical and occupational therapists. In his free time he enjoys camping with his wife and his dog Harvey, rock climbing, fly-fishing, basketball, board games, and tennis.

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Libby Hawley – BOARD MEMBER

Libby is originally from Austin, Texas, where she attended nursing school and worked as an Oncology Nurse. She quickly became a Charge Nurse, and got certifications in Oncology and in Med-Surg. Following that, Libby would later transfer to Case Management and became certified as an ACM (Accredited Case Manager) and CHPN (Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse). She found her way to Bend to help her son, who’s a stroke survivor, in any way she could. Libby is now retired and enjoying all that Bend has to offer. She has been an active and involved volunteer for SAO for quite a time before becoming an official board member. Her hobbies include cooking, gardening, hiking with Spencer, her Goldendoodle, and going on road trips. She was honored to be nominated to the SAO Board of Directors.

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Stephen Van Houten: BOARD MEMBER 

Stephen (Steve) Van Houten is a retired Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who last worked with the Oregon Department of Human Services in Bend. He received his Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Oregon. During that time, he helped originate the Oregon Association of Rehabilitation Professionals in the Private Sector (OARPPS) dedicated to establishing ethical competent services for Rehabilitation companies in the state. The business grew to 9 offices and 40 counselors before closing in late 1980s.  

Concurrently and after the business closed it’s doors, he was also a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and worked as a Vocational Expert Witness for the Social Security Administration for about 20 years. In October of 2019 he experienced a “wake up stroke”. He is committed to the continued work to recover from his own stroke and passionately dedicated to helping others recover from their stroke experiences. 



Lawnae Hunter holds both an Oregon Principal Broker’s License and a California Broker’s License. She is also Principal Broker/Owner of PLUS Property Management serving Central Oregon and California Central Coast. She has over thirty-five years of experience in general real estate brokerage including land development, commercial and industrial land sales, new home sales, property management and general resale. Lawnae was appointed by the Governor to the Oregon Real Estate Agency (OREA) in 2018 and serves as Vice-Chair. Ms. Hunter thrives in a dynamic and competitive sales environment with a strong understanding of the market and economic forces affecting Central Oregon and the state.

In 2014 Lawnae suffered a severe stoke. After her stroke she began a rigorous rehabilitation program and committed to returning to a normal work and personal life. Public Service has always been an important part of her life. After the stroke she committed herself to prevention and stroke awareness. She is currently treasurer of Stroke Awareness Oregon, which she co-founded with Dr. Goins.

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Mindy Laidlaw, OTR – St. Charles, Supervisor Home Based Care Support Services at St. Charles Medical Center: BOARD MEMBER 

Mindy Laidlaw graduated from Pacific University in 1987 with her degree in Occupational Therapy. She completed her Acute Care internship at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, and knew this was where she wanted to start her career. She has now been with the organization for over 31 years. Most of her career has been practicing on the ortho/neuro floor. She then went on to supervise the Acute and Rehab therapy teams. Her teams were an inspiration to her because they had such a positive impact on patients and their families in the community. She is now the Intake and Post-Acute Community Coordinator. 

Mindy was drawn to Stroke Awareness Oregon because their mission was to educate everyone about the importance of FAST. She knew she wanted to be on this board because the team moved with intention. 

Other interests include Cooking, gardening and spending time with her family and friends. 

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Bob Ludwick – BOARD MEMBER, Principal Broker

Bob Ludwick joined Pacific Southwest Realty Services (PSRS) in 2008 and currently holds the title of Principal. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Westmont College and his Master of Arts from Willamette University. Prior to joining PSRS, Bob worked as an investor, developer, and commercial real estate consultant. Over the last four decades of his career, he has developed, owned, and managed about 400,000 square feet of industrial and mixed-use properties and has been part of the development and sale of more than 1000 residential units. Despite his noteworthy accomplishments in real estate, Mr. Ludwick is most proud of his role as husband, parent, and grandparent to his four children and eight grand kids. His passion for Stroke Awareness Oregon drives our mission through his consistent efforts in assisting with outreach and building strong relationships in the community.


Norwyn Newby, MD: BOARD MEMBER 

Dr. Newby,  a neurosurgeon retired from The Center in Bend,  graduated from OHSU in Portland in 1970. He looks forward to assuring SAO thrives as it strengthens its foundation to educate communities about stroke and to support stroke survivors and their families. 


Chris Piper: BOARD MEMBER, Business Development Professional/ Eagle Scout / Speaker / Promotional Products Industry Consultant

Chris has lived in Bend for 20 years where he and his wife, Marla, raised their daughter Gracie and now they’re living the empty nest life with their French Brittany Tess hiking, fishing, camping, and traveling. Chris is a business development professional whose career spans 30+ years in the promotional products industry where he now serves as a business consultant, speaker, and a legislative advocate for the industry. Chris is an active community volunteer too where he served as Bend’s City Councilor and currently serves on the Crater Lake Council’s Scouting Board, Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council Board representing Deschutes County’s Business & Industry, and as President of Bend’s Downtown Business Association. In addition to serving on SAO’s Board of Directors. Chris is a graduate of the University of Oregon, member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, and an Eagle Scout  – three experiences that taught him the value of serving the community in which you reside and to serve in leadership roles helping others become successful. Chris is looking forward to helping lead SAO’s awareness in Central Oregon and throughout the state of Oregon.

Gerry OBrien

Gerry O’Brien: Editor, The Bend Bulletin

Gerry O’Brien has been the managing editor at The Bend Bulletin for 2 1/2 years. He previously was editor for the Herald and News in Klamath Falls, Ore., for seven years and prior to that was the editor for The Helena Independent Record, The Montana Standard in Butte, and The Billings Gazette for a total of about 30 years. A New Jersey native, he’s a graduate of Fordham Prep high school and the University of Colorado School of Journalism. He and his wife, Vikki, have a daughter, Molly.

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Jim Patterson – PRESIDENT, Board Member

Jim Patterson is a stroke survivor with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Portland State University and was most recently the Executive Vice President and Chief Communications and Experience Officer for Oregon State Credit Union in Corvallis. In that role he led marketing, public relations, organizational philanthropy and legislative advocacy while making sure the credit union’s 130,000 members enjoyed great experiences when engaging. Additionally, Jim served as the Senior Associate Athletic Director for fundraising at Oregon State University. He played a key role in raising 42 million dollars for the Valley Football Center renovation and expansion. He served as City Manager in Corvallis and Sherwood Oregon. Jim is a powerful force in the workplace relying on servant leadership and his positive attitude, and his love for people to encourage others to work hard and succeed to overcome challenges. He is inspired daily by his faith, family and friends while the top of the list is his wife, Valorie, his three grown children, and his three grandchildren. In his free time, Jim plays golf as he continues his rehabilitation and recovery from stroke. He has given himself a doctorate in living life after stroke from the School of Real Life. His life’s purpose now is to help others find ways to live a life of high quality and hope for the future while recovering from stroke.

Ralph Cortese

Ralph Cortese – Stroke Warrior Radio, Board Member

Ralph Cortese is a semi-retired businessman who moved to Bend, Oregon, in March 2022 to be near family. His background includes sale management of a major insurance company and vice-president and partner in a regional employment agency in Tucson, Arizona. Prior to moving to Bend, Ralph had construction businesses in Arizona, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. He currently manages Southside Storage in Bend and is a co-founder of Stroke Warrior Radio.

After having a stroke in October 2015, Ralph became involved with Stroke Awareness Oregon (SAO) upon arriving in Central Oregon. He attributes the most significant strides in his stroke recovery to the support he received from other survivors and the opportunity to get involved by leading a monthly Men’s Support Group.

Ralph’s commitment to public service goes back to coaching youth and high school sports, Director of Christian Education, and involvement with the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Ralph is a widower, has three daughters, a son, and eleven grandchildren. He credits his family for his continued recovery through their acceptance, without any stigma attached to his stroke. He believes that he must share his own recovery lessons with others.