New Leadership for Health Disciplines

Transitions in several areas of Healthy Athletes have meant a change in leadership in some disciplines on the Healthy Athletes global team, including clinical leads for Healthy Hearing, program leadership for Opening Eyes, and others.

Melina Willems has joined Beth Lannon on the Global Clinical Advisor team for Healthy Hearing. Melina Willems is a Lecturer in Audiology at University College of Arteveldehogeschool, Ghent, Belgium. Melina originally joined Special Olympics as a Healthy Hearing Clinical Director for Special Olympics Belgium, and because of her attention to clinical integrity, her ability to work effectively with people cross-culturally, and her commitment to improving the Healthy Hearing program, she rapidly began filling increasing roles of responsibility for Special Olympics. Melina joins long-time Global Clinical Advisor Beth Lannon, the Executive Director of Children’s Specialty Services, John Muir Health Walnut Creek Campus, California, USA; Beth’s focus will primarily be oversight of the large-scale and active program in the United States while Melina with oversee all non-US Healthy Hearing activities, and the two will work together on global strategy and operations. Since 2011, Healthy Hearing has been transitioning to provide more follow-up care to athletes in need worldwide. Beth and Melina are in a perfect position to help Special Olympics continue to expand its health programming.  For more clinical information about Healthy Hearing, contact Beth at or Melina at

David Evangelista is transitioning into a role as Vice President, Global Development and Government Relations and no longer involved with the day-to-day management of the global Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program, though he will continue to manage global partnerships. Fortunately, Bjoern Koehler has agreed to take on these responsibilities in addition to the management of health programming for Europe/Eurasia. Bjoern can be reached at

Kathleen Palermo has been promoted into a new role within the health team, as Department Administrator and Program Manager. In addition to taking on departmental administration duties, Kathleen will provide daily operational management for MedFest and Health Promotion events and coordinate training activities for both disciplines. Kathleen be be reached

Lastly, Special Olympics Healthy Athletes will also be working to fill the role of Manager, Healthy Hearing and Fit Feet, as Martin Wisor will be leaving the organization this month.  Martin has been with Special Olympics since early 2005 and has been a valuable member of the team.


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Senior Manager, Health and Research Communications


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