Deb McGrath is the executive director and co-founder of the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana. She has dedicated over 27 years to developing the Foundation’s vital programs and services through her deep passion to help make a difference in the lives of children, adults, and veterans living with and impacted by epilepsy and seizures.
This passion comes from her daughter, Victoria, who developed epilepsy 32 years ago. Deb's commitment to advocate for those whose civil and ADA rights have been violated has proven beneficial in supporting the special needs of the Foundation’s clients. Deb has been recognized for her advocacy work by the national Epilepsy Foundation with the Excellence in Advocacy Award in 2002 and the Advocate of the Year Award in 2007. Her conviction against the discrimination of person’s with epilepsy has touched many lives over her long-standing career at the EFKY.
Most recently, Deb was the honored recipient of the 2020 Health Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement award by Louisville Business First, for leading the charge at the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana over the past 25 years. She received numerous nominations for Health Care Heroes from a variety of peers in the community and was congratulated for this achievement at a banquet held in February.
Deb’s commitment to providing vital support services to those impacted by seizures is evident with the expansion of services and development of the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana (EFKY). In 1993, the Foundation went from being a local support group to a program of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, to then becoming an independent 501 (C)(3) health related organization in 1996. She pressed on to reach the goal of affiliation with the National Epilepsy Foundation in 2001, and expanded the service teritory to include all of Kentucky. Deb is married to John and between them they have three adult children and nine grandchildren. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, cooking, golfing, and living life to its fullest! Deb has a warm spirit and knows this journey would not have been possible without the love and support of many who have selflessly provided help and support along the way.
Beth Stivers joined the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana on May 21, 2007. She received her Masters of Science in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Louisville in 2001. Following graduation, she worked at the Louisville Science Center (now, Kentucky Science Center) as the life sciences coordinator developing informal educational science exhibits and writing/presenting informal science curriculum to school age children, science educators, and the general public. Since joining the Foundation staff in 2007, she has provided educational training programs to thousands of school nurses, school personnel, child care workers, students, law enforcement officials, EMS personnel, as well as, individuals directly affected by epilepsy and their family members.
Donald Bow, USN, MCPO (Ret) - Veterans Outreach Coordinator Donald joined The Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana in February, 2018 as the Veterans Outreach Coordinator. Donald is retired from the United States Navy after 20 1/2 years of service where he served as a Hospital Corpsman, a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Instructor, Recruit Division Commander, and Command Master Chief. Donald earned his Master of Health Sciences from Trident University and is a graduate of various military leadership schools to include, the Senior Enlisted Academy (SEA) and the Command Master Chief/Chief of the Boat course. Donald is looking forward to being an advocate for our veteran community and raising awareness with veterans, their families, and medical providers.
Donald lives in Mount Washington with his wife Hayley and their two sons. Donald and his family enjoy being outdoors, hiking, and spending quality time as a family.
Sonya Ferguson, MSW was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky and received her bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Science at Western Kentucky University. Ferguson then married her middle school sweetheart, had a son, and went back to school to obtain her graduate degree in Social Work from Spalding University. Ferguson has over 15 years of experience working with children/families from disadvantaged backgrounds who struggle with different challenges and disabilities. Ferguson also has over 5 years of experience utilizing trauma informed care with clients, working with addictions, and residential services. Ferguson is passionate about working with diverse populations to make a difference in others life’s and feels it’s her charismatic leadership style that keeps her thriving and a positive energy to be around. When Ferguson isn’t working, she always finds time to enjoy being a mother to her two children Brayden and Brynlee, traveling with her husband, spending time with her church, friends/family, sorority and having time for self-care. Ferguson is pleased to be a part of the Epilepsy Foundation and can’t wait to meet her new team.
David Pettit, joined the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana in April, 2013 as the Western Kentucky Education Coordinator. In the past, the Foundation has strived to provide quality services to the far-reaching areas of the state, but due to proximity has not had an ideal presence in western Kentucky. In an effort to provide more epilepsy awareness and response programs, as well as meet client needs, David will be working as a dedicated satellite employee in western Kentucky, providing all of the Foundation's trainings offering and assisting clients in this region.
David retired after teaching for many years in middle schools and juvenile facilities in the Owensboro and Daviess County school districts. He has also served as community education director for both districts and as the Newspaper in Education coordinator for the Messenger-Inquirer. David and his wife, Betty Jane, have three children and nine grandchildren. In their spare time, they enjoy gardening, landscaping, and spending time with family. David was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy in his fifties, and looks forward to raising public awareness of the neurological condition.
Gary A. Zortman joined the team in October 2013 as the agency's Events Manager. He began volunteering for the Foundation in 2009. In 2011, he became the Chairman of the Walk Around Kentucky for Epilepsy Planning Committee and eventually joined the board of directors in early 2012. Gary was also instrumental in the planning and execution of the inaugural Walk in Paducah, Kentucky in 2013. Since his volunteer work with the agency began, Gary has had a growing passion to make a difference in the lives of those living with epilepsy on a more daily basis. When the Events Manager position became available, he jumped at the chance to join the team and the staff could not be more excited to have him on board. When asked about joining as staff, Gary said, "I am excited and thrilled to be part of the Foundation and to be able to provide more support to individuals and families dealing with epilepsy and seizures. I look forward to growing with the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana." Gary's duties as the Events Manager include Fundraising, Youth Groups and Social Media.
Gary is a western Kentucky native. He moved to Louisville in 2008 and has since settled in Mount Washington with his wife Ashley and their 16 year old daughter, Hailey. Gary knows first-hand the challenges those living with epilepsy face as Hailey has been living with epilepsy since age 1. Ashley shares Gary's passion in serving individuals with epilepsy, and has also been volunteering for the Foundation since 2009. When not a work Gary enjoys spending time with family and friends, landscaping and creating marketing materials.
Connie joined the Epilepsy Foundation in August, 2000, working as the Administrative Assistant/Office Manager. Connie's positive and caring attitude flows throughout the office setting as she handles the many day-to-day activities and is eager to support the needs of the staff. Connie prefers working behind the scene and her devotion to persons with epilepsy is heartfelt and instrumental to the Epilepsy Foundation.