Meet the 2023 Phoenix WBC Program Committee

Written by Rachel Kudlak on February 02, 2023

Our 2023 Phoenix World Burn Congress (2023) Program Committee has been appointed! Congratulations, and thank you to the following individuals for volunteering their time and effort to help plan a wonderful and engaging event. 


About Phoenix WBC 

Phoenix WBC is the world's largest gathering of burn survivors, their families, burn care professionals, and the fire service industry. The event is hosted by Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, the leading national nonprofit supporting burn survivors. 

For many burn survivors, Phoenix WBC is their first opportunity to connect with others on the journey of burn recovery. This life-changing biennial event connects attendees with support resources, educational programming, workshops, and, most importantly, each other. 


About the Program Committee 

Phoenix WBC's Program Committee is responsible for identifying potential speakers and guiding the programming content offered at the conference. The committee is composed of community volunteers representing diverse voices, lived experiences, and roles in the community. Committee members are responsible for attending meetings, researching speakers, ideating new content areas, contacting speakers, developing outlines, and more.

2023 Program Committee Phoenix WBC

Meet the Committee 

Rebekah Allely 

Rebekah Allely is a Burn Rehab Therapist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She attended many Phoenix WBCs and is looking forward to being involved with the planning. As someone who has worked in burn care for many years, she has had many conversations with burn survivors, has a sense of their challenges, and hopes to use these conversations to provide meaningful input to the program planning. In her eyes, a successful event will attract a diverse group of attendees, provide motivating and educational sessions, and provides understanding and insight into healing and recovery. She hopes all attendees have one or more "aha" moments and can say, "this has made a difference for me." 


Paul Bell 

Paul Bell is a burn survivor and a trained Phoenix SOAR Peer Supporter. He hopes to serve as a voice for survivors and help navigate the mental, physical, and spiritual needs after a burn injury while serving on the committee. In Paul's eyes, Phoenix WBC will be a success if burn survivors can build confidence for social interactions, learn how to handle stares and questions, and can network and meet others. He hopes that survivors learn to embrace their scars and how to thrive again. Historically, the dancing and workshops are Paul's favorite part of the event. 


Octavia Burney 

Octavia Burney is a burn survivor who is looking forward to meeting new people, hearing the different sessions, and being around other survivors and their families at her first Phoenix WBC. Octavia loves to learn from and work with others in the burn community and was encouraged to apply for the committee by fellow survivor Amber Wilcox. Her goal is to expand her knowledge and meet other amazing burn survivors while planning a successful Phoenix WBC. She wants attendees to leave feeling like they can conquer any goal set in front of them and that a burn injury doesn't define their outcome, but they have the power within themselves to make a difference and become what they believe they can achieve.  


Gretchen Carrougher 

Gretchen Carrougher is a Research Nurse Supervisor in the Department of Surgery at Harborview Medical Center. As a burn nurse, educator, and researcher, she hopes to add to program development and is excited to be more involved with Phoenix WBC. Hearing testimonies from burn survivors is Gretchen's favorite part of the conference, and she believes this year's success will come from opportunities for attendees to network and share their unique stories. Her goal is to listen to the voice of the survivor in what they wish to see at the conference, take that information and make it relevant to a live educational program. Gretchen encourages other healthcare clinicians to listen to survivors not treated at their center as they can provide usual and informative information for their unit.   

Carey Cummins 

Carey Cummins is a burn survivor who has been attending Phoenix WBC since 1997. It has been 35 years since her injury, and she knows that recovering is not a linear process. Over the years, she has seen what works well and what doesn't from a survivor's perspective and is excited to bring a new voice to the program committee. Carey hopes to help evolve the conference so that programming applies to both newly injured survivors and those much later in their healing journey. She hopes attendees will come away knowing they're not alone, learn new ways to cope, and make it a priority to attend again. 

In my opinion, each conference has been unique, but my favorite part is meeting and connecting with new people and seeing my fellow 'old timers.'"

Carey Cummins

Jane Fayer 

Jane Fayer is a burn survivor who was injured during the pandemic in 2020. She was interested in joining the committee to represent newly injured survivors and is looking forward to meeting survivors in person who she has only known virtually. Jane is a moderator of Phoenix Society's Peer Support Chat and hopes the conference programming can address some of the recurring issues that are brought up during chat. In her eyes, Phoenix WBC will be successful if the schedule is well-balanced and can meet the needs of survivors, regardless of what stage they are in their recovery. 


Rob Feeney 

Rob Feeney is a survivor of The Station Nightclub Fire, a trained Phoenix SOAR Peer Supporter, and a Phoenix Advocate. After attending Phoenix WBC several times, he wanted to join the program committee to give back to the organization and help other survivors. Rob has been on the planning committee before and enjoys the sense of pride of knowing attendees truly enjoyed themselves and that they received help or took important steps forward in their recovery after attending. He hopes the 2023 conference will be highly beneficial for those early in their recovery who may have only had virtual support opportunities. Seeing the growth and success of survivors who came along after Rob is what he is looking forward to most. 


Stephanie Schneider 

Stephanie Schneider is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with a focus on burn care at the Children's National Hospital. She has become increasingly involved in the aftercare support for their youth burn survivors and their families, and Phoenix WBC has greatly influenced how she practices OT. Stephanie is continually amazed by how Phoenix WBC brings the burn community together in such an informative and loving way and hopes to utilize this energy and structured programming to socialize and build relationships in her home city. She is excited about the opportunity to be part of the behind-the-scenes planning and wants to ensure a broad range of programming and relationship-building opportunities for children and families.  

My favorite part is a bit hard to put into is more of a feeling; being surrounded by people who support each other, listen with compassion, and learn from one another is empowering. I am so looking forward to October!"

Stephanie Schneider

Jason Woods 

Jason Woods is the President of the D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation and a Sergeant with the D.C. Fire and EMS Department. He was interested in joining the committee because he wants to provide participants with a program that allows them to explore new roads in their recovery journey, including opportunities to explore new ideas in the healing process, techniques to address future challenges and forge new friendships that will be there for the journey forward. The firefighters and burn teams in D.C. have a long history of providing various local survivor support programs, and he hopes that when participants return home after this year's Phoenix WBC, they will reflect and feel that this was the journey of a lifetime. 

I want to challenge participants to step outside their comfort zone and explore a session they may have yet to attend. And I hope we can offer a curriculum as diverse as the backgrounds of Phoenix WBC attendees."

Jason Woods

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