Joan Miller is well known throughout the Portland Metro brain injury and rehabilitation community. She is best known as the co-founder of BIRRDsong, a survivor-led support group for brain injury survivors, their families and caregivers.
At the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon, where her picture hangs in the lobby as a success story, Joan has volunteered in the gift shop, the flower cart, and the Healing Garden, sharing her story with families and patients. She is often asked by therapists and doctors to talk with those who are recovering from brain injuries, working as a mentor and showing that success is possible.
Joan speaks annually on a panel chaired by Dr. Bruce Wojciechowski for optometric students at Pacific University, offering a look at how vision therapy changed her life. Dr. Wojciechowski also asked Joan to speak at the 18th Annual NORA Multi-Disciplinary Conference in 2009 and the Annual Pacific Northwest Brain Injury Conference of Oregon.
Dr. Rik Lemoncello, Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR, regularly asks Joan to speak to his students about how speech therapy aids in the recovery from a brain injury.
In April, 2014, Joan attended the Oregon PTA Conference with BIRRDsong President Laurel Kirby, a concussion specialist, to discuss how BIRRDsong can help those suffering from brain injuries and for the residents and students at Kampfe Management Services on life with a brain injury.
Joan is also active in educating the law enforcement community about the challenges faced by those with brain injuries. In 2012, she spoke at a training attended by police chiefs, patrol officers and prosecutors in Clackamas County, Oregon, sharing tips on recognizing brain injuries to de-escalate potential conflicts.
Joan is passionate about the prevention of drunk driving and is active in multiple organizations. Twice a month, she uses her story to try to help those who have been arrested for drunk driving during Victim’s Impact Panels put on by Oregon Impact and Trauma Nurses Talk Tough. She is regularly interviewed by local media agencies on the topic of drunk driving prevention. In 2013, she was interviewed by:
• The Oregonian Newspaper
• The Estacada News
• KGW TV
• KXL Radio
She can also be found on a variety of Blogs including:
• Gregory Scott Daniel
• TBI Network
• Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Joan also takes her message of drunken driving prevention to audiences around the area. Between January and July, 2014 Joan could be found speaking at:
• Holy Cross Catholic School
• Gladstone High School
• “Operation Prom Night” crash re-enactments
• Safety Fairs for Oregon Impact
• Estacada Underage Drinking Forum hosted by the Estacada, Or, Police Department
As a result of Joan’s dedication, she received the 2014 St Mary’s Academy Award for Overcoming Adversity.