ThinkFirst Northern Nevada


Meet The ThinkFirst Northern Nevada Leadership Team

Chapter Director of ThinkFirst Northern Nevada

Sara De Paoli MA, CCRC

Sara De Paoli took over as Chapter Director of ThinkFirst of Northern Nevada in 2021.

Sara brings a wealth of experience in the not-for-profit world to the organization.

Sara attended Bemidji State University and the University of Minnesota. Sarah is the Foundation Director for Reno Orthopedic Foundation. She is adjunct faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno  School of Public Health. Sara grew up in Minnesota but now calls Reno home.

In her own words: “I’ve operated as an executive, organizer, educator, researcher, writer, strategic planner, relationship builder, emergency IKEA table builder – and have focused on bringing a diverse group of voices to every table to fill the community needs through large scale collaborations and partnerships.”

Board of Directors

Joseph Uccelli, MD (Trauma Surgeon, Western Surgical Group)(President)

Mike de la Torre (Health Teacher, Athletic Trainer, WCSD)

Frieda Hulka, MD, FACS (Trauma/Pediatric Surgeon, Western Surgical Group)

Kathy O’Sullivan, PT, MSPT, CBIS (Team Leader Northern Nevada, Rehab Without Walls)

Benjamin Pence, DO  (Chief of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Renown Health)

Lali Sekhon, MD, PhD, MBA  (Neurosurgeon, Reno Orthopedic Center) (Sponsoring Physician)

Marshall Tolbert, MD (Neurosurgeon, Sierra Neurosurgery Group)

ThinkFirst Northern Nevada VIP Speakers

Voices for Injury Prevention (VIPs) are at the heart of our ThinkFirst programs. These individuals share how a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury changed their lives in an instant. Their upbeat yet poignant presentations offer audiences the opportunity to see and hear first-hand, live accounts of the consequences of poor choices (theirs or someone else’s)… like not wearing seat belts, choosing to drink and drive or playing with firearms.

  • Tayler Dahlberg
  • Blaze Brucato
  • Caitlyn Bray

Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Facts


Each year an estimated 500,000 persons sustain permanent brain and spinal cord injuries in the United States.


Correct use of an approved helmet is the best way to protect your head and brain from sports related injuries.


Approximately half of patients with a severe head injury will need surgery to remove or repair brain bleeding or bruising.