Matt Wetherbee - Founder/President
On June 7, 2016, three days before his 29th birthday, Matt suffered a C-3 spinal cord injury while playing basketball. He then spent two months at Massachusetts General Hospital and three months at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He then attended Journey Forward, a nonprofit facility in Canton, MA that specializes in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. He currently is participating in epidural stimulation research at the University of Louisville.
Originally from Marblehead, Massachusetts, Matt attended James Madison University where he completed his undergraduate and Master's degrees in Sports Management. While working in the sports marketing field before his accident, Matt worked tirelessly for the benefit of numerous charitable organizations, and worked as a client relations and marketing manager for many corporate clients.
Prior to starting the predecessor firm Wadland & Associates in 1993, Joseph J. Wadland was with Day, Berry & Howard in Boston. Mr. Wadland has represented Fortune 500 companies as well as numerous New England based companies and businesses in litigation including in the fields of general business, insurance, insurance coverage, products liability, health care, medical malpractice, closely-held corporation disputes and land use. Mr. Wadland's practice encompasses state and federal courts. He has represented clients in all six New England states as well as California, Florida, New Jersey and New York. Mr. Wadland also has appeared before various state and local licensing authorities.
Mr. Wadland attended evening law school at Suffolk University and graduated in 1986 (magna cum laude). Mr. Wadland’s other degrees include an M.Ed. in Public Health from Boston University (1977) and a B.A. from Bridgewater State College (1976). Prior to 1986, Mr. Wadland worked for the U.S. Department of Interior in a variety of positions for ten years, his last position being the Regional Chief of Public Safety, Environmental Compliance and the Federal Torts Claims Act for the North Atlantic Region of the United States.
Prior to being named Executive Director of the MW Fund, Jenna has spent the last decade working in Public Relations, most recently as Vice President of Goodwin Group PR. Throughout her career, Jenna has worked with several professional athletes, directly managing their nonprofit organizations and guiding their charitable efforts. Some former clients include The TB12 Foundation and The Light Foundation.
Before joining the MW Fund as a Board Member, Jenna worked alongside Matt at a Boston-based Sports Marketing company where they proudly worked in the nonprofit sector successfully executing large-scale charitable events, fundraising campaigns and charity raffles. Some former clients include Ray Bourque, Drew Brees, Milan Lucic, The San Francisco Giants, The LA Kings, Troy Brown and Mark Wahlberg.
Jenna deeply values the relationships she has built over the course of her career and hopes they will be an integral part in sharing the mission of the MW Fund.
Currently a Neuro-Exercise Specialist at Journey Forward, Mike brings 10 plus years of of spinal cord injury recovery experience to the table. Graduating from Ball State University (03) with a degree in exercise science and Providence College (06) with a MBA in finance and marketing, he has combined his skill set to find the perfect blend of training and business. Outside of Journey Forward Mike is also a professional musician. Mike has served as Community Grants Manager for Eastern Bank’s Charitable Foundation and also serves in an advisory role with the 33 Foundation.
Dr. Susan Harkema
Susan J. Harkema, PhD, Professor, holds the Owsley B. Frazier Rehabilitation Chair in Neurological Surgery and is the Associate Director of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville. Over the last 27 years, her research has focused on neural plasticity of spinal networks and recovery of function after spinal cord injury. Her more recent studies have shown that people with chronic paralysis can regain the ability to voluntarily move their legs and stand independently while also recovering cardiovascular and bladder function with epidural stimulation. This broadened the scope of the translational research program to include technology development to improve implantable epidural stimulators.
Dr. Harkema leads the KSCIRC translational faculty within the Pediatric NeuroRecovery, Adult NeuroRecovery, and Epidural Stimulation Programs. Over the past decade, these programs have collectively been awarded over $72 million in research dollars with the aim to improve motor, cardiovascular and bladder function, health, and quality of life of adults and children living with paralysis. During that time, she also led six rehabilitation centers and nine community fitness and wellness centers in the translation of scientific knowledge into clinical practice as the Director of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network.
Dr. Harkema’s research interest has been understanding neural mechanisms of the human spinal circuitry that initially focused on locomotion and began with a model of diagnosed motor clinically complete spinal cord injury. Over the years, serendipitous discoveries expanded and allowed her to take advantage of her graduate degree in physiology to unravel mechanisms of the human spinal circuitry that modulate the autonomic nervous system. She has maintained an NIH funded research program since 1998 and she has been funded by grants from the NINDS, NCRR, NIBIB; as well as the DOD, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the Paralyzed Veterans Administration, Wings for Life and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.
During her career, she has published more than 110 scholarly manuscripts and book chapters; delivered over 100 worldwide lectures and keynotes; been a grant reviewer for the NIH, Roman Reed, Mission Connect, FISM Society; and she has sat on numerous advisory boards and review panels. It is important to note that many of her 18 mentored graduate students and post-doctoral fellows have excelled in their careers.
In addition to the above accomplishments, Dr. Harkema has co-authored seven United States patents and received several honors and awards throughout her career. In 2007, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association nominated her into the SCI Hall of Fame for Achievement in Research in Quality of Life; 2008, she was a co-recipient of the Reeve-Irvine Research Medal which is awarded to individuals who have made critical contributions to promoting repair of the damaged spinal cord and recovery of function; 2011, she received the Difference Maker Award from the Rick Hansen Foundation as well as the Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics; 2012, she received the John Stanley Coulter Award for significant contribution to the field of rehabilitation by the ACRM; 2014, she received the Innovator of the Year award from Business First; 2018, the Paul J. Corcoran, MD Distinguished Lecture from Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School; and in 2019, she again received the Innovator of the Year award from Business First.
Dr. Harkema earned her Bachelor of Science and PhD from Michigan State University and conducted her postdoctoral fellowship in neurophysiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.