Tourette Association of America welcomes newest Board Member, high-ranking Native American federal employee with Tourette Syndrome
March 24, 2021
The Tourette Association of America (TAA), the only national nonprofit organization serving the Tourette Syndrome (TS) and Tic Disorder community, is pleased to announce that Jerry Gidner, has joined its Board of Directors.
“We are pleased to welcome Jerry as a new Board member,” said Amanda Talty, TAA President and CEO. “Jerry exhibits the leadership, knowledge, and passion for the mission of the organization. His wealth of experience will be a tremendous asset. The TAA is thrilled to count him as an enthusiastic member of our community.”
Gidner, who has Tourette Syndrome, is a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribe, and has served throughout the Department of the Interior in a variety of capacities including Deputy Bureau Director for Indian Services, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Deputy Chief Learning Officer for the Department, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Principal Deputy Special Trustee for American Indians, Acting Special Trustee for the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, and Director of Bureau of Trust Funds Administration.
“There is no doubt that Tourette has made me a better leader. It has given me creativity, empathy, kindness, and a thick skin. For my profession, Tourette is unmistakably a benefit, a game changer,” Gidner said. “Recently, I came to realize that I might be the highest-ranking federal career employee with Tourette Syndrome. With that realization came a burning desire to be a better role model to those coming up behind me, whether they are the middle school kids being shoved in the hallway, or a junior employee trying to navigate an unforgiving workplace. I am still figuring out exactly how to do that.”
Gidner applies his own unique view of management style in his current leadership role. What he dubs “Servant Leadership” focuses on empowering one’s staff to performance excellence through support, trust, and respect. He firmly believes that treating others in this manner leads to happier, more productive, and more dedicated team members, and this method is already showing excellent results. Gidner also holds a law degree and a Master’s degree in Natural Resources Policy and Management from the University of Michigan and an MBA from American University. He received his Bachelor's degree in Zoology from Michigan State University. In his spare time, Gidner is a published writer.
Along with the addition of Gidner to the Board of Directors, the TAA also welcomed Claude Schofield, Ph.D. as the Vice President of Research and Medical Programs. In his role, Schofield is responsible for assisting the Association in advancing the understanding of TS and Tic Disorders, facilitating the development of effective therapies and elevating awareness of the condition through the execution of public health and education initiatives through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After receiving his undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison receiving a B.S. in Molecular Biology, Claude went on to complete his doctoral studies in Neuroscience at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College in New York City. To continue his studies, Claude undertook advanced training in neurophysiology with postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco. Claude’s career in the nonprofit sector began at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. After a brief stint working in biotech, he is delighted to return to disease advocacy and join the TAA.
About the Tourette Association of America
Founded in 1972, the Tourette Association of America (TAA) is dedicated to making life better for all individuals affected by Tourette and Tic Disorders. As the only national organization serving this community, the TAA works to raise awareness, advance research, and provide ongoing support to patients and families. To this end, the TAA directs a network of 31 Chapters, 83 support groups and recognizes 20 Centers of Excellence across the country. For more information on Tourette and Tic Disorders, call 1-888-4-TOURET and visit us at tourette.org, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About Tourette Syndrome and Tic Disorders
● Tourette Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by sudden, involuntary movements and/or sounds called tics. They can include eye blinking, head jerking and facial movements — throat clearing, sniffing and tongue clicking.
● The involuntary utterance of obscene words is called coprolalia, and it’s much rarer than people think: Only 10 percent of people diagnosed with Tourette experience these symptoms.
● There is no cure for Tourette. The cause also remains unknown, but it is thought to involve genetic, neurological and environmental factors that can be treated.
● Tourette is under diagnosed. Many children, parents, teachers and even physicians don’t fully understand TS, which can lead to bullying, a lack of community support, an improper diagnosis, lack of quality education, and a host of other issues that impair the quality of life for someone with TS.