Meet the Leaders of The Victory Summit® Virtual Event: Mental Health and Wellness


According to the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, a study that tracked more than 13,000 people in five countries with Parkinson’s, depression and anxiety are the two most important factors that affect the well-being of people with Parkinson’s. Nearly 80% of people living with Parkinson’s report feeling depressed and anxious at some point throughout their life with Parkinson's. Feeling depressed and/or anxious can negatively impact your motor symptoms, relationships, sleep, disease progression, ability to exercise, and more, all of which are critical aspects to living well with Parkinson’s.

During The Victory Summit® Virtual Event: Mental Health and Wellness on Friday, September 17, 2021, from 9 - 1 pm MDT, you will learn from and interact with experts who specialize in symptoms related to mood, anxiety, and depression. You’ll also hear advice on actions you can take to reduce these symptoms and thrive with Parkinson’s.

Read on for a close-up look at the event’s speakers.  

Polly Dawkins: welcome and agenda 

Polly joined the Davis Phinney Foundation as the Executive Director in 2011. Polly’s track record managing and growing organizations responsibly and with transparency for over 25 years dovetails with her humanitarian worldview. She is committed to making wise use of the Foundation’s resources, enabling it to extend its reach while staying true to its mission. Polly is passionate about helping people with Parkinson’s thrive by providing education and connection to community and funding quality of life research that take the guess work out of living well. Polly holds an MBA in International Business from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a BA in International Studies from Earlham College. When Polly isn’t behind her desk or traveling to Parkinson’s communities around the world, you’ll find her creating music lists for her indoor cycling classes, exploring Colorado on her road bike, swimming laps outside, and hosting family and friends from around the world. She’s powered by sunshine, though, so you might also find her lying on a rock soaking up the sun like a lizard. 

Learn more about Polly here.

Davis Phinney: "Every Victory Counts®" 

Davis Phinney was fresh off a successful professional cycling career, where he won an Olympic bronze medal in 1984 and was part of the first American team to race in the Tour de France, when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He founded the Davis Phinney Foundation in 2004 with the goal of helping people living with Parkinson’s to improve their quality of life through education, inspiration, resources, and effective self-care. Davis’ perseverance, coupled with his infectious positive attitude and dedication, inspires the work of the Davis Phinney Foundation and has earned him the reputation as a tireless advocate and mentor for others living with Parkinson’s. In spring 2015, he was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change because of his work in the Parkinson’s community.  

Learn more about Davis here 

connie carpenter Phinney: "Every Victory Counts®" 

Connie Carpenter PhinneyConnie Carpenter Phinney is an entrepreneur, author, artist, and lifelong athlete, and is extremely passionate about her work as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Davis Phinney Foundation. She particularly enjoys sharing her experiences through the written word and as an eloquent and humorous public speaker. Connie has a MS in exercise science from the University of Colorado and completed her BS at the University of California, Berkeley. She has two adult children, Taylor and Kelsey, with her husband, Davis Phinney.

Learn more about Connie here. 

brian luke seaward: "stress management, mindfulness, and parkinson's"

Headshot Brian Luke SeawardBrian Luke Seaward, PhD, is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the foremost experts in the field of resiliency, stress management, and corporate health promotion and is an esteemed and often-quoted inspirational speaker and TEDx speakerHe has authored more than 18 books, including the popular best sellers Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water;The Art of Calm; and Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward and the award-winning college textbook Managing Stress (10E). His corporate clients include Hewlett Packard, Royal Caribbean, Wells Fargo, TransAmerica, Procter & Gamble, Conoco-Phillips, Motorola, Quaker Oats, John Deere, BP-Amoco, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Maxtor-Seagate, Organic Valley Dairy, The US Army, and the Air Force. For 25 years he served on the faculty of the University of Colorado Consortium for Public Health. Currently, Dr. Seaward is the Executive Director of the Paramount Wellness Institute in Boulder, CO, and serves on the faculty of The Graduate Institute (Bethan, Connecticut).  

Learn more about Brian here.

Gregory pontone: "managing depression and anxiety in parkinson's"


Gregory Pontone, MD, MHS, is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He is an Attending Psychiatrist in the Geriatric and Neuropsychiatry division where he treats patients with neurodegenerative disorders (including Parkinson’s and related disorders, Alzheimer’s dementia), and behavioral disturbances resulting from these diseases. Dr. Pontone is the director of the Johns Hopkins Parkinson’s disease Neuropsychiatry Clinic, which focuses on diagnosing and treating the neuropsychiatric aspects of Parkinson’s and related disorders. His research focuses on the interaction between neuropsychiatric symptoms such as cognitive impairment, anxiety and depression, and motor impairment in Parkinson’s.

Learn more about Dr. Pontone here.

Melissa Tafoya: "boxing movement break"


Melissa Tafoya is an activist and advocate for people with Parkinson’s to provide hope and improve quality of life. She is a pint-sized powerhouse with a mountain of creativity, experience, and purpose and has been training and coaching special populations for over a decade. Growing up she felt different. She was incredibly shy and terrified of the world. In elementary school, she found her voice on the playground. She was known as the Mini Mike Tyson of tetherball. Melissa grew to be a voice for others who were too shy or misunderstood. Little did she know it would define her destiny to start Rock Steady Boxing Sacramento. She put her love of hitting things and defending others together. This worldwide affiliate fight family is evidenced-based, non-contact boxing designed to improve quality of life for Parkinson’s fighters. She recently founded her very own center of hope, Hope In Your Corner, a safe space specifically for her fight family & private clients to thrive as well as for support groups to meet. She currently serves on the Latino outreach committee through PANC Parkinson’s Association of Northern Ca. 

Learn more about Melissa here.

Alexander Pantelyat: "Music and rhythm for parkinson's: improving physical and mental well-being"

Alexander Pantelyat, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is the director of the Johns Hopkins Atypical Parkinsonism Center, the co-director of the Johns Hopkins Movement Disorders Fellowship Program, and the co-founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine. His research is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of atypical parkinsonian disorders, such as dementia with Lewy bodies, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal syndrome/degeneration and multiple system atrophy; cognitive aspects of movement disorders; and music-based rehabilitation of neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Pantelyat earned his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, completed his residency training in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and completed a fellowship in movement disorders at the University of Pennsylvania/Philadelphia VA Medical Center. He is a 2013 American Academy of Neurology Palatucci Advocacy Leader and grant recipient, a 2014-15 American Academy of Neurology Emerging Leader, and a 2014 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Osler Attending Program inductee.

Learn more about Dr. Pantelyat here.

Register for the event

The Victory Summit Virtual Event: Mental Health and Wellness goes beyond the screen. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with speakers all from the comfort of your own home using a computer, tablet, or phone. Plus, you’ll meet some of our Ambassadors who are available to support you at any time. Register to join us.  


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