Founder Note

December 15, 2023

2019 In Review: A Letter From Our Founder

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What. A. Year. It was simultaneously everything and nothing like I had expected. First and foremost, THANK YOU to everyone who has played a role in this journey so far, whether that has been donating, volunteering your time, skills, or resources to help us, or sharing our cause with your contacts. Even if you donated $5, you made a difference. YOU are the reason that TBB exists.

TBB took a lot of very exciting steps in 2019, and I am thrilled to recap these with you all.

We received our 501(c)3 tax-exempt charity status on May 6, after a historically long government shutdown and 225 days of waiting. May 6 is coincidentally my birthday! Thank you to the universe for aligning the stars for me to get the best birthday gift I could’ve asked for, and to our incredibly generous attorney, Matt Breuer, for all of his help with this.

We then went through a name change from Therapists Without Borders to Therapists Beyond Borders, after a disappointing occurrence the previous year while trademarking TWB, even after it was approved by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. We also experienced copyright infringement when another organization copied our exact TWB content from our website and pasted it onto theirs. I am happy to say that we now own the trademark for Therapists Beyond Borders, and that said website is no longer using our content.

Speaking of websites and branding, we were extremely lucky to have the incredibly talented Andrew Akagawa of Initial Apps completely re-design a brand new, sparkling website for us. Likewise, our inspiringly skilled graphic designer, Lindsay Bolton, updated our branding and materials with our new name. With their powers combined, they have placed us in such a professional light that I am so proud of and constantly receive compliments on.

We had visits with both of our India and Kenya partner sites, which is personally extremely exciting for me to return each time in a new position for moving forward, compared to when I left both of those sites on my first trips years ago, with nothing but a dream. Now, we have a plan.

We built an extremely robust needs/strengths assessment tool that addresses site-level, community-level, and country-level strengths and needs: a critical first step for our longer-term mission. We also developed an OT-specific needs/strengths assessment tool, and were able to complete these assessments on both of our trips to India and Kenya this year. Next steps involve further developing the PT/SLP-specific sections, and combining all discipline-specific assessments on an interdisciplinary level to inform the content and curriculum we are building for our training modules.

We attended the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting in Washington, D.C. and received overwhelming support for our organization throughout our time there. We secured our talented Director of Physical Therapy Programs from this, which made the trip 1000x worth it!

We had fundraising events in both Chicago (my hometown), Michigan (where I went to university), and Houston (my current residence), as well as our first online GivingTuesday campaign that was incredibly successful for our first year. We secured our first corporate sponsor (thank you, Transcend Orthotics and Prosthetics), our first foundation grant (thank you, Patrick McFawn and Community Foundation of Greater Rochester), and our first corporate donation match (thank you, Synaptic Pediatric Therapies). In 2019, we fundraised 3.5x the amount that we raised in 2018. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that helped make a dent in this!

Our biggest step forward happened in October: I tested our training model with our Kenya partner site! Our Directors of SLP, OT, and PT Programs combined their skills to build out TBB’s training template – a template and model to be used for future trainings, regardless of whether the audience is a therapist, a caregiver, a family member, or a community. Content and curriculum, itself, is what will be formulated based on the specific audience. The goal of the October trip was to test the style, flow, and delivery of a training using our model. The content was built for the physiotherapist, and combined components of all three disciplines into an interdisciplinary, functional activity training module. It was tested with all levels of staff (and kiddos) with our Kenya site and it was a hit! Each staff member took a turn role-playing the patient, the therapist, and the trainer. We received exciting and valuable feedback for next steps for future trainings, and they are more excited than ever for those next steps. When the physiotherapist was practicing the training content, he was able to see a child engage in a way that she has never done before. This, in turn, allowed me to see the physiotherapist the happiest that I have ever seen him – it was such a beautiful moment between them!

My personal favorite success story from the year is about my dear friend, “Ben”, from our Kenya partner site. In the past, therapy has been traumatic for Ben. It has involved pain, crying, screaming, and restraint in positions that further impede him. It has involved his needs being unattended to, not because of a lack of empathy or a lack of a desire to help him, but because of a lack of time and resources. At the end of 2018, our Director of Occupational Therapy Programs and I worked together with the physiotherapist at our Kenya site to problem-solve Ben’s needs and what would bring him increased strength, skills, and participation, while simultaneously ensuring that he was comfortable and motivated. After myself and another team member completed two follow-up trips in 2019, we are happy to report that Ben is no longer engaged in the parts of therapy that used to be traumatic for him.


As I write down these success stories, I am reminded and comforted by how far we really did come in 2019. But it’s not enough. We need so much more for this mission and vision to truly become reality and to make a lasting, global impact.

For Therapists Beyond Borders to be sustainable, it has to be long-term and continuous. We have to be transitioning programs locally, and it has to be monitored and evaluated. It requires a lot to do this the right way. We are coming out of 2019 with a model that we’ve tested and with initial success stories. We have built a solid foundation from which to launch, and have a strategic action plan for the next 3 years as well as site sustainability plans. Now, it just comes down to the funding.

Moving into 2020, we are completely focused on fundraising, partnerships, and board development. We cannot continue with programming until we know that we are responsibly set up to be sustainable, because we refuse to follow the failed “Band-Aid” model.


Host a fundraiser. Become a TBB Ambassador. Refer potential board members. Connect us to your contacts, whether it’s companies that might sponsor us, foundations who might provide us a grant, or individual donors. Network. DONATE.

We couldn’t have done 2019 without your help, and we can’t do 2020 or beyond without your help, either. You can email with ideas and offers of how you might be able to help, and we can then support and guide you through it.

THANK YOU from the TBB team, our partner sites, and from the bottom of my heart for all for your continued support as we work towards providing this much-needed sustainable programming around the world. You are making a difference in the lives of many, and we can’t wait to see what next steps 2020 will bring. Cheers to you and to a hopeful, exciting new year!

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