Recognizing Outstanding and Dedicated PT Professionals

2021 Conference Award Winners

The Mercedes Weiss Service Award - given to honor members who have contributed in several significant areas to the profession of physical therapy at large. 

Winner - Mike Studer, PT, MHS 

Mike Studer is a name that many are familiar with and is synonymous with innovation, advocacy, and educator. His professional life has been focused on innovating treatments at Northwest Rehabilitation Associates using the best evidence at hand, advocating for our profession by using his reputation and voice to fight alongside our government affairs team, and educating those he mentors at work and internationally. His recent acceptance of the Catherine Worthingham Fellowship through the APTA is a testament to how valuable he has been to our profession, as he joins the ranks of few others who have received the highest honor APTA has to offer. His efforts to advance our profession are not unnoticed and therefore I believe this award nomination is the least I can do to thank him for the many hours and the above and beyond efforts he has put in
over the years.

The Distinguished Service Award - given to someone who has made a significant impact in furthering the goals of the OPTA through their service. 

Winner - Inga Deckert 

For the last 12 years, the APTA-Oregon Government Affairs Committee has had the good fortune to be advised by Inga Deckert.  Inga likes to say, “When children are asked what they would like to be when they grow up, I’ve never heard one say ‘I want to be a lobbyist.’ When I was young, I said I wanted to be a veterinarian or a photojournalist. Like many lobbyists, I somewhat tripped into the profession and then decided to make it my career.”

We are very lucky that she made that choice.  

Inga joined us when the OPTA retained Tonkin Torp to be our voice in Salem. This was the tail end of the “great spinal manipulation wars.”  Karen Walz was the chapter president at the time and recalls how quickly Inga learned the language of our profession,  “ I appreciate her calm, informative nature and steady hand in dealing with a variety of issues related to the advocacy.” Inga’s expertise in providing public testimony was expressed in how she coached our experts through testimony to put an end to the chiropractic efforts to restrict the right of physical therapists to practice this technique.

A few years later, Inga took the step that many of our members have taken and hung her shingle in private practice.  We were happy to have her to continue to represent us as she led us through the final push for direct access.  Oregon became a model for ease of access to physical therapist services.  But, Inga showed us that lobbying is about much more than legislative success by opening doors for APTA-Oregon to meet with the executive branch and key stakeholders such as the Oregon Health Authority members, the Oregon Health Leadership Council, and large payers in the state to improve access to physical therapist services.  One example is our work with the Oregon Health Leadership Council on a direct access pilot study that showed that direct access can help decrease costs by getting patients to the right care at the right time and has influenced payer policy around direct access.

Coaching members through expert testimony and facilitating meetings with stakeholders are important, but Inga has also been the eyes and ears for physical therapists in the Capitol.  Oregon was the first state to endorse the creation of the PT Interstate Licensure Compact thanks to Inga’s quick collaborative efforts with the Oregon Board of Physical Therapy, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, and the Interstate Licensure Compact Commission to save that bill during a turbulent short session in 2016.  

Inga instilled the need for a strong grassroots organization and political action committee.  While we’ve had intermittent success boosting our PAC balances, our grassroots have taken hold.  The Government Affairs Committee hosted a State Payment and Policy forum in Salem in 2019 and several town halls over the past couple of years.  Committee membership continues to grow and our work with key stakeholders on issues such as utilization management and dry needling have us set up for success on those fronts.  

I’ll give the last word to current chapter President Jeremy Hilliard, “Inga’s political savvy and analysis is unparalleled and her commitment to our organization is unquestionable. Beyond lobbying, she took time to know us and understand our issues. Inga has been much more than our lobbyist… she has been an integral part of APTA Oregon and its work. To say that she will be missed is quite the understatement.”

 The Ricci Susick Advocacy Award - established to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution in the areas of advocacy and mentorship, furthering the physical therapy profession both locally and nationally. 

Winner - Jeannie Thompson, PTA 

It gives me great pleasure to share some thoughts about my dear friend and colleague, Jeannie Thompson, as the recipient of the 2021 Ricci Susick Advocacy Award.  Jeannie clearly demonstrates the criteria for this award: significant contributions in advocacy and mentorship in our profession.  I have witnessed her outstanding contributions in her roles as the PTA Caucus Representative on the Oregon Chapter’s delegation to the APTA House of Delegates and member of our Chapter’s Board of Directors nearly every year since 2012.  Jeannie provides an excellent voice for the PTA community and advocates for that group in our profession, particularly when evolutionary issues are considered at the national and chapter levels.  She meets these challenges as an astute collaborator, and does not shy away from pursing complex issues.  Through her national network, she knows who to contact and how best to move forward.  As a past faculty member in the PTA program at Mt Hood Community College, she is an excellent mentor for the student PTA member on our delegation to the House, as well as the alternate PTA Caucus Rep.  Without hesitation, she volunteers each year to guide these individuals throughout the increasingly complex governance year of the APTA.  And there’s one more of Jeannie’s contributions, that I simply must mention.  We all know that our meetings have changed compliments of the coronavirus, and one thing I miss most about the in-person meetings of our delegation is Jeannie’s insistence of bringing luscious homemade desserts to each meeting. Zoom just does not cut it. I look forward to Jeannie’s continued commitment to our profession through her service in our chapter and national organizations.  We all are beneficiaries of her contributions. Congratulations. 


Regional Awards:




Portland-area Regional Award - 
Kristin Messing, PT, MS




Southwest Regional Award - 
Garrett Stroup, PT, DPT, CSCS




Central Oregon Regional Award - 
Mike Edgerton, PT, NCS, ATP



Northwest Regional Award - 
Winston Kennedy, PT, DPT


Emerging Student Leader Awards:



SPTA Award - 
Mason Flores, SPT




SPT Award
Rebekkah Joliff, SPTA

2021 President's Award - for Exceptional Contributions to the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy. 

Winner - Talina Corvus, PT, DPT, PHD

Talina Corvus is a physical therapist and assistant professor. She earned her bachelors degree in physiology from the University of Washington and her DPT and PhD in Education and Leadership from Pacific University. She is a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Geriatric Physical Therapy, an Advanced Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults, and the founding Chair of the Cultural and Minority Affairs Committee at APTA Oregon. Her teaching and research centers around topics of education, leadership, research methods and design, interprofessional education, experiences in education from underrepresented groups, and physical activity engagement in African American older adults.