Advisory Council

The CMMR Advisory Council, formalized in June 2014, is a group of leaders in academia, government, and industry who assist the CMMR in developing key community partnerships in the areas of industry collaborations, education, grant awards, and community outreach. The CMMR is proud to have such a committed group provide expert guidance as we work together to improve the lives of military members, veterans, and their families.

We are currently in the process of welcoming new members to the CMMR Advisory Council this Fall.


Steven H. Graham, MD, PhD is Professor of Neurology, Vice Chairman for Research, and the Connolly Family Chair in the Stroke Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, where his research focuses on the mechanisms by which neurons die after stroke and brain trauma. He is also Director of the Geriatric Research Educational and Clinical Center at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, which is funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs and provides an integrated program of basic biomedical, clinical and health services research, education of trainees and practitioners, and clinical demonstration projects designed to advance knowledge regarding care of the elderly, with an emphasis on stroke.



John Speer is a strategy and finance professional who focuses on mergers, acquisitions, and venture investments.  He is the Director of Corporate Business Development at Stryker Corporation, and has held roles in the healthcare, energy and communications industries in both startups and large publicly traded companies. Prior to his civilian career, he served as a Major in the US Air Force and Air National Guard, amassing over 2,000 flight hours as an instructor pilot in the T-37, T-38 and B-2 airframes. John holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, a Masters of Operational Military Art and Science from Air University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.



Tamara Tunie is an actor, producer, director and philanthropist whose versatile background spans film, television and stage, and also includes producing and directing. Tunie currently stars as Marie Van Der Veen on the SundanceTV original series The Red Road. Other memorable television roles include her portrayal of Medical Examiner Melinda Warner on the NBC drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and “mean Alberta Green” in the Fox hit series 24, as well as attorney Jessica Griffin on the CBS daytime drama As the World Turns, for which she received two NAACP Image Award nominations and two Soap Opera Digest award nominations. In film, the Pittsburgh native has worked with some of the most respected directors in Hollywood. She also worked with the legendary Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate and City Hall. Among Tunie’s most unforgettable performances was her co-starring role as Margaret Thomason in the Oscar-nominated film Flight, which starred Denzel Washington. She was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for the film The Caveman’s Valentine, in which she starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson. Tunie extends herself beyond acting, producing and directing and is deeply engaged in the community. She has served as chair emerita of the Board of Directors of Figure Skating in Harlem, a nonprofit organization that teaches education and life skills to young girls through the art and discipline of figure skating. Tunie is also President of the Board of Directors at Harlem Stage/The Gatehouse, a board member of God’s Love We Deliver, and she serves on the Advisory Board of Hearts of Gold. Please visit her website, for her full bio.


Jack Wagner is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recipient of the Purple Heart and other military commendations for service in the Vietnam War between 1966 and 1968. After being discharged from the Marines, he attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and received a degree in Safety Management. He has served the city, county, and state as a member of Pittsburgh’s City Council (1983-1993), President of Pittsburgh City Council (1989-1993), State Senator (1994-2005) and Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, and Auditor-General of Pennsylvania (2005-2009). He has also been a candidate for Mayor of Pittsburgh, Lieutenant Governor, and Governor of Pennsylvania. Wagner received IUP's Distinguished Alumni Award for service to the community and the university in 1994. While in public office and as a private citizen, he has worked to preserve services for veterans. While Auditor-General of Pennsylvania, he pushed (along with the VFW) to keep military stores in the state from closing. For 28 years, he has sponsored a golf fundraiser called Caring and Sharing to raise money to give disabled veterans an opportunity to take a riverboat cruise.


Ms. Debi Wheeler, a native of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, is the Director of both the Deb Wheeler Fund and the Pete Wheeler “Pay It Forward” Fund founded in memory of her son, Harold W. “Pete” Wheeler IV. During the last 15 years, Ms. Wheeler has served on many committees, boards, and civic organizational campaigns, focusing on the needs of children. In addition to advocating for children’s issues, Ms. Wheeler supports promising technologies and therapeutic strategies that come from basic brain research. She has a special interest in traumatic brain injury, as well as neurorehabilitation and neurotechnology.Ms. Wheeler brings a wealth of strategic planning expertise to the numerous projects and partnerships she has led as a member of the Ladies Hospital Auxiliary Society and as a volunteer for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and other research enterprises at Pitt. She has contributed volunteer time as well to the University of Pittsburgh. Known for her inimitable style and panache, Ms. Wheeler has a notable history of engaging talented and committed civic leaders in causes that she values. Ms. Wheeler splits her time between Somerset County, Pittsburgh, and Florida, where she has created networks of like-minded philanthropists.


Ralene DeBord is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mrs. DeBord holds a Masters of Science Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology and is the founder and CEO of Hockeymom LLC. Mrs. DeBord is a devoted philanthropist who supports cancer research, neurological research, children’s advocacy and military causes. Mrs. DeBord was the 2015 Glimmer of Hope recipient and has served on many committees, gifting campaigns, boards and community organizations with the focus on funding research and outcomes that will impact the lives of future generations. Mrs. DeBord resides in both Cheat Lake, West Virginia and Franklin, Tennessee with her husband Cris and son Wyatt Charles.