Alana Shepherd presented her thoughts on "Seeing Beyond Injury" at the October 20th Terry Third Thursday event in Atlanta. Shepherd co-founded the Shepherd Center in Atlanta in 1975 to treat spinal cord injury. Since then, she’s overseen its growth from a six-bed unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed rehabilitation hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury and other neurological conditions. She has served as the center’s chief fundraiser and prime mover-volunteer, and continues to work as secretary of the board of directors.
In her presentation, she shared the story of her son's injury, which lead to the creation of the Shepherd Center and chronicled the center's growth and success throughout the years. She also discussed the rehabilitation strategy of the center which focuses on ensuring that patients get out of their hospital beds and live a normal life.
After founding the center with her husband, Harold, and son James, Alana Shepherd realized that treating patients wasn't enough. She needed to change society to be more accepting of these individuals. Her advocacy resulted in the addition of lifts to Atlanta’s MARTA bus system and in making Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport one of the country’s most accessible airports.
Among her many awards, Alana received an honorary doctorate from the University of Georgia, the 2012 J.W. Fanning Award from Leadership Georgia and the Georgia Hospital Association’s 2009 Lifetime Heroic Achievement Award. In 1989, she became the first woman elected to be a member of the Buckhead Coalition and, in 2003, she was the first woman elected as chairman of the coalition. She is also the first woman elected to boards of Genuine Parts and Wachovia Bank of Georgia.