• If you would like to discuss any federal legislative or regulatory issues impacting physical therapy or the health care system, contact APTA's staff experts. Each expert specializes in specific legislative or regulatory issues. Please contact our experts if you have questions or need help with an issue. You can reach any of the staff below by phone at 800/999-2782, ext. 8533.

    Public Affairs Unit

    Neas, Katy

    Katy Neas
    Executive Vice President, Public Affairs
    Katy Neas is executive vice president of Public Affairs at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Prior to joining APTA, Katy spent 23 years of Easterseals, a national nonprofit provider of direct services to children and adults with disabilities and their families. Her roles at Easterseals included federal and state government relations advocacy, oversight of federal grants and contracts and management of the Easterseals Office of Public Affairs. A long-time disability rights advocate, Katy began her career on the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy during the development and enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    In addition to her work with APTA, Katy also serves as the immediate past chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. A graduate of Georgetown University, Katy hails from Des Moines, Iowa.

    Government Affairs


    Justin Elliott
    Vice President, Government Affairs
    Justin Elliott has 20 years of government and public affairs experience. As vice president of government affairs, he leads the association's legislative and regulatory priorities at both the state and federal level. He has held several positions at APTA since joining the association in 2002, having previously served as APTA's director of state government affairs from 2008-2015, and associate director of state government affairs from 2002-2008. Prior to joining APTA, he worked at KM Strategies, a government affairs and issue management firm. He was the communications director for Fairfax County Supervisor Penelope A. Gross and also served as an advisor on her successful reelection campaign. He got his start on Capitol Hill serving as an intern in the offices of Sen Charles Robb and Rep Tom Davis, both of Virginia. He received his bachelor's degree in communications and minor in political science from Virginia Tech.

    Congressional Affairs


    Michael Matlack
    Director, Congressional Affairs
    Michael Matlack joined APTA in 1999. Before joining APTA, he was manager of congressional relations for the National Society of Professional Engineers, in charge of its political action committee, grassroots programs, and lobbying on education and research issues. He also worked at Pearson & Pipkin Inc, a small consulting firm; the Republican National Committee; and as an intern for former Rep Richard Pombo. He oversees the Congressional Affairs Department, which includes advancing the association's legislative priorities on Capitol Hill through federal lobbying, grassroots, and political action.

    Simms, Jennica

    Jennica Simms
    Specialist, Congressional Affairs & Grassroots
    Jennica Sims joined APTA in 2017. Before coming to APTA, she worked for the International Wood Products Association as the Manager of Membership Outreach, Operations, and Government Relations Coordinator. Prior to that she worked in numerous staff positions for over 14 political campaigns at the local, state, and federal level in 5 states, was a Constituent Affairs intern for a U.S. Senator, and has extensive experience with building grassroots networks digitally and in-person. She has been trained by the Wellstone Academy in storytelling and grassroots building and was nominated as the New Organizing Institute’s Most Valuable Organizer for her outreach abilities and organization efforts of one of the largest cities in Connecticut. She graduated from Lynchburg College with a joint Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Political Science.

    Michael Hurlbut
    Senior Specialist, Congressional Affairs
    Michael Hurlbut joined APTA in 2009. Before that, he expanded his legislative experience in a number of positions. After working as an intern and entry-level staffer for Rep Jerrold Nadler, who represents the west side of Manhattan, he transitioned into a legislative role, joining the office of Rep Rob Andrews, who represents Camden, New Jersey. It was here where he turned his focus to health care and tax issues. He couldn't pass up an opportunity to work for his hometown representative, Rep Louise Slaughter, and joined her office to handle appropriations, education, and transportation work. Originally from Rochester, New York, he received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University, where he was exposed to rehabilitation and training while working in an athletic training room. After graduation, he moved to Washington, DC, to pursue a master's degree at The George Washington University and has lived here ever since.



    Heather Smith, PT, MPH
    Program Director, Quality
    Heather Smith has been at APTA since April 2011. She previously worked for New York Presbyterian Hospital as the manager of core measures, with responsibility for all publicly reported core measure sets and the quality improvement projects associated with these measures. In addition, she worked on a variety of other quality initiatives and regulatory preparedness for multiple campuses within New York Presbyterian's 2,300-bed hospital system. Prior to her role at New York Presbyterian, she worked at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, where she also served in a quality improvement position for more than 2 years. She received her master's degree in public health from Drexel University. Previous to her role in quality improvement, she was a practicing clinician for more than 10 years, with the majority of her focus on orthopedics.

    Regulatory Affairs

    Gainer, Kara 75x110

    Kara Gainer, JD
    Director, Regulatory Affairs
    Kara Gainer joined APTA in 2017 and providers leadership and strategic direction to the regulatory affairs team on key programs, initiatives, and policy development in the federal regulatory space. She has extensive knowledge and experience working on policies related to Medicare, Medicaid, health care reform, and provider billing and reimbursement. Prior to joining APTA, Kara was a health care consultant with Drinker Biddle & Reath, where she developed and executed comprehensive public policy strategies for her clients that integrated legislative, regulatory, and communications efforts. She also served as an Attorney Advisor for the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals and clerked with the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms. Kara received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Montana and law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.

    Jennings, Sharita 75x110

    Sharita Jennings, JD
    Senior Specialist, Regulatory Affairs
    Sharita Jennings is a senior regulatory specialist focusing on key government affairs issues, including health care reform, hospital payment systems, Medicaid, and program integrity. Prior to joining APTA, she was a health care consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, where she provided regulatory research and subject matter expertise to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assist in the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace. She has also consulted on health care compliance matters for hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, urgent care centers, among other providers.

    State Affairs


    Angela Shuman
    Director, State Affairs
    Angela Shuman joined APTA in 2004 and has served in her current role in State Government Affairs since 2007. A native of Muncie, Indiana, she is a graduate of Ball State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in political science. Prior to joining APTA, she was an intern and legislative assistant in the Indiana House of Representatives, while working toward a master's degree in public administration. She received her MPA degree from Georgia Southern University in 2003.

    DeBono, Isabelle

    Isabelle DeBono
    Specialist, State Affairs
    Isabella DeBono joined APTA in 2017. A graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, Isabella interned at the New York State Assembly for Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, and worked on New York-based election campaigns. Previously, Isabella tracked state health and insurance initiatives at a private legislative tracking firm, and was responsible for state and society relations at the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

  • Last Updated: 11/29/2017
    Contact: advocacy@apta.org