Welcome, New Directors!

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In 2023, Kennedy Krieger welcomed the following seven members of the community to the Kennedy Krieger Institute Board of Directors:

Watchen Harris Bruce headshot. She is standing outdoor.

Watchen Harris Bruce has over 35 years of experience in banking and economic development. She is the president and CEO of Baltimore Community Lending, which provides loans to small businesses and affordable housing developers in underserved communities in the Baltimore area. In 2009, she co-founded B’More Clubhouse, a psychosocial rehabilitation program offering employment, housing and skills development. She recently completed the NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence Program through Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.



Daniel Koch headshot. He is sitting in a mobility device outdoors.

Daniel Koch is a retired attorney with more than 30 years of experience in private practice, with expertise in advice, litigation, and government and commercial contracts. He is also a patient of Kennedy Krieger and has been receiving services at the Institute’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injury since experiencing a bicycle accident in 2013. He studied at Yale University and received his juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.



Stephanie Reel headshot

Stephanie Reel has served as the chief information officer for all divisions of The Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System. In that role, she led the implementation of an information technology master plan and operational redesign of all aspects of information services. She served on the Health Information Technology Committee of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In 2019, she was appointed to the board of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.



Dr. Jay Salpekar headshot.

Dr. Jay Salpekar is a pediatric neuropsychiatrist and the director of the neuropsychiatry program at Kennedy Krieger’s Center for Developmental Behavioral Health. He also serves as president of the Institute’s medical staff and is an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Salpekar studied medicine at Washington University in St. Louis and completed a general psychiatry residency at Barnes Hospital and a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Yale University.



Francie Spahn headshot. The headshot is taken outdoors.

Francie Spahn is an attorney and principal of a boutique real estate law firm that provides acquisition, financing, construction and leasing counsel. She previously worked at Saul Ewing LLP and was one of the first lawyers in Maryland to become LEED certified. She holds a certificate in construction project management from Columbia University, a juris doctorate from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University.



David Sweiderk headshot.

David Sweiderk is president and CEO of SECU and a current member of the Special Olympics Maryland Board of Directors, helping the organization provide year-round sports training and athletic competitions for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Active in the financial industry, Sweiderk is also a member of the MDDC Credit Union Association Board of Directors and serves on the board of directors for the Kennedy Krieger Foundation.



Dr. Paul Thesiger headshot.

Dr. Paul Thesiger is a surgeon and parent of a child with autism. This combination of life experiences, he says, gives him a keen appreciation for the daily struggles of families of children with special needs. Dr. Thesiger studied medicine at Columbia University and completed an internship at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. He studied general surgery at Howard University and plastic surgery at the University of Miami. In 2006, he opened Thesiger Plastic Surgery in Washington, D.C.