Board of Directors

The Return To Life Foundation

board member

Allison Zopel

Board Member · Founder

Allison has spent the past twelve years recovering from coma and traumatic brain injuries. She has spent the past six years speaking with other coma and brain injury survivors, their friends and families, and health care professionals who work with people in coma and TBI recovery. She is the author of the book titled, “The Angel Inside”, which shares about her personal experience through coma and brain injury.

She has recently founded The Return to Life Foundation in hopes to continue her work in helping to assist people who are recovering from coma and brain injury, and create the awareness, environment, and support that she wishes her (and many others) and their families had during their recovery to heal.

Jesse Syverson

Board Member

Jesse, originally from Anchorage, AK, was a caregiver of coma and traumatic brain injury for over five years. Working with health food at a local food coop was a key decision in his role as a caregiver and the successful recovery of his partner with a severe traumatic brain injury. Jesse was raised by an executive chef which helped to anchor his passion for quality foods early on, which has played a key role in his bringing new innovative organic brands into hundreds of grocery stores nationally during the past ten years. Jesse feels it is a great opportunity to play a part in helping others who are struggling through recovery, and is happy that his experience with health food could help guide many others to make better choices that will impact their own recovery time, and health.

Edwina Gittemeier

Board Member

Edwina has the experience of spending the past fourteen years recovering from a coma and traumatic brain injuries. She has held a master’s degree in social work, with a specialty in helping to serve disenfranchised populations.

She continues to use her personal experiences in assisting others who are recovering from coma and traumatic brain injury and their families, and is happy to be using her experience at The Return to Life Foundation.


Kelsey Ross

Board Member · Outreach

Kelsey has the experience of spending the past three years working as a caregiver, helping people of all ages with a variety of disabilities. She assists them with daily living activities such as cooking, cleaning, exercising, and being involved in the community.

She is currently working for a direct care service that helps children with developmental disabilities, including children with brain injuries, to have the same opportunities in the community. Kelsey is currently in the process of pursuing an education in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She hopes to help bring about more awareness of traumatic brain injury to people while being a part of The Return to Life Foundation.

Eric Nusbaum

Board Member · Secretary/ Treasurer

Eric has the experience of founding and working with non-profit organizations for over fifteen years. He has served on the boards and held a variety of officer positions in non-profits that have focused on arts and education, community action, and economic development. He has also worked for non-profits in both bookkeeping and administrative capacities.

Eric is currently a policy analyst for the Oregon Department of Agriculture working with Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and lives on a beautiful farm where he grows an abundance of his own food. He is happy to use his experience and expertise working with The Return to Life Foundation.