Henry and Mary

Resilience and Disability in the Time of COVID-19

A Message from Our CEO

To our talented staff, dedicated trustees, generous donors, and our community,

During these challenging and uncertain times, all of us here at Kessler Foundation express our deep concern for all of you and wish you peace and good health. Many of you may have questions about the disruptions we are experiencing in our daily lives, and the impact on the Foundation and the important work we do.

My message to you is one of resolve. We are pushing ahead with our research and philanthropic activities in a landscape that has suddenly and radically changed. To maintain our resolve, we recall 2008, when we weathered the devastating economic downturn with the support of our staff and our donors, and the guidance of our Board of Trustees. Today, it is the spread of COVID-19 that tests our resiliency.

Given current threats and future uncertainties, the work we do is more important than ever. With health and safety as our number 1 priority, we’ve closed our offices, suspended travel, and postponed events.

Thanks to the ingenuity of our staff, we continue to move our research forward—focusing on work that does not require physical contact. Staff members are working remotely, utilizing technology to connect with one another and maintain communication with their research participants.

Some studies have been adapted to tele-studies, allowing people with disabilities to participate from home, without the risks of in-person meetings. The unseen work of our scientists—analyzing data, writing papers, and submitting grant proposals—also continues—fueling the momentum of our research.

And to help our grantees maintain their programs for jobseekers with disabilities, we have shifted funds to make COVID-19 emergency funding available.

While we have all witnessed many losses, we have not lost our ability to take action.

This new reality is fostering creative solutions that promise to fundamentally alter how we plan our future.

I’m confident that Kessler Foundation’s leadership team and our Board of Trustees will continue to make the kind of decisions that enable us to push forward. And I’m confident that our donors—who understand the impact that our efforts have on the lives of people with disabilities—will act to continue their support.

To channel this support, we have created a special fund. Your donation to the Resilience Fund at Kessler Foundation helps those most vulnerable to today’s challenges—people with disabilities.  

With gratitude and best wishes for the good health of you and your loved ones, 

Rodger DeRose
Rodger DeRose
President and CEO
Kessler Foundation 

Hear from Our Experts

Listen to our renowned rehabilitation researchers discuss the impact of COVID-19 on people living with disabilities.


  • Practical Tips to Help Survive the Pandemic as a Parent of a Child with Autism - In this episode, Drs Helen Genova of Kessler Foundation ( and Regina Peter of the Newmark schools ( discuss autism and social isolation.

  • COVID-19 and Spinal Cord Injury: Minimizing Risks for Complications -  In this episode, CarolAnn Murphy, senior staff writer interviewed spinal cord injury expert Dr. Trevor Dyson-Hudson, both from Kessler Foundation discuss practical techniques and devices that people with spinal cord injury can use to improve their cough.

  • Social distancing with MS or a TBI: Difficulties with being *too close* and *too far* - In this episode, Drs Helen Genova and Erica Weber discuss social struggles faced by individuals with MS and TBI and the impact of these difficulties on relationships in the household. Dr. Weber talks about how to find social outlets and resources to improve mental health in this stressful time.

  • Moving research forward while staying home: The past, present, and future of rehabilitation researchCarolann Murphy, PA, interviews three Foundation scientists: Dr. Olga Boukrina, Dr  Ekaterina Dobryakova Dr. Nuri Erkut Kucukboyaci all from Kessler Foundation. Together they will explore the changing face of rehabilitation research during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Caregiving for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury while Sheltering in Place for COVID-19 - Caregiving for a loved one who has experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be stressful in the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. In this podcast, Dr. Erica Weber hosts a conversation about TBI caregiving in the time of COVID-19 with director Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti, and senior research scientist Dr. Denise Krch

  • Optimizing healthy sleep habits during the COVID-19 pandemic - Sleep is a critical function that contributes significantly to our physical and emotional health as well as our overall quality of life. Listen as Dr. Erica Weber interviews neuropsychologist Dr. Anthony Lequerica, an expert in sleep disturbances after brain injury, about the importance of quality sleep and how to maintain proper sleep hygiene during this stressful time.

  • Coping with MS during the COVID-19 Pandemic - In this podcast, Dr. Erica Weber speaks with two of our Kessler Foundation employees who also have MS, Carla Basante and Michaele Clayborne-Crosby, about their experience during the novel coronavirus pandemic, and how they are managing to maintain their health and well-being.

  • Health disparities across populations: COVID-19's effects on the disability community - In this podcast, Dr. Erica Weber chats with clinical psychologist Dr. Denise Fyffe and social epidemiologist Dr. Amanda Botticello about this phenomenon and get their thoughts on how to best tackle the issues of health disparities from COVID-19 and what policies might help us avoid this pattern in the future.

  • Enabling optimal care after spinal cord injury - an online curriculum for personal care assistants - In this podcast, Dr. Jeanne Zanca describes the development of a web-based curriculum for training personal care assistants in the type of care needed by individuals with spinal cord injury. This project update is relevant to our recent experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed new emphasis on health care workers and on the advantages of online education.

participate in research from home

Participate in Research from Home

Stay connected to us.

All you need is access to a computer or phone.

Current Tele-Studies


While we have all witnessed many losses, we have not lost our ability to take action. Your donation to the Resilience Fund at Kessler Foundation helps those most vulnerable to today’s challenges.  

Are you interested in learning more about the work we do, want to see what our researchers have been up to, or have concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on you and your family? Check our blog for the latest Foundation news.