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Alumni Experiences

From Patient to Healer: MPA Alumnus of the Year

Dale Hull has spent most of his professional career helping others seeking medical attention. During his most recent endeavor, he took the opportunity to help individuals with paralysis by co-founding a rehabilitation center. This year, Hull was named the 2023 Alumnus of the Year by the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics.

A cleanly dressed older man in a suit with neat gray hair and a beard smiling into the camera.
Dale Hull is the 2023 MPA Alumnus of the Year Award recipient.
Photo courtesy of Dale Hull

Shortly after an accident that left Dale Hull paralyzed from the shoulders down, he realized he could no longer work as a physician, which left him feeling stripped of his identity. “I felt like I’d lost all my value,” Hull admitted. “I didn’t feel like a husband, a father, a physician, or even a worthy human being.”

The process to recovery was a long one for Hull, the 2023 Brigham Young University MPA Alumnus of the Year award recipient. “It’s a tough journey, regardless of who you are. There were dark days for me,” Hull revealed. To cope, he began to weigh his options for the future. “I think when you experience a catastrophic event, it’s really important to think about your choices,” he explained.

A grueling two-and-a-half years passed, and Hull spent that time working to gain back as much movement as possible with the help of his physical therapist, Jan Black.

But Hull soon learned that not everyone who seeks recovery can find it easily. “There were many individuals who also had experienced paralysis. They wanted, needed, and deserved more specialized therapy. Yet it wasn’t readily available,” Hull explains. Hull and Black wondered if they could find a solution to meet such an important need.

So they sat down together and wrote a business plan for a nonprofit spinal cord injury center, Neuroworx, to address financial barriers that could prevent access to care for potential patients. Neuroworx launched in 2004 and growth quickly followed. As demand increased, Hull and Black sought a larger rental space for the influx of employees and patients.

Hull realized that he needed to increase his knowledge and abilities related to nonprofit management. His nephew introduced him to Jeff Thompson, then an associate professor in the MPA program at the BYU Marriott School of Business. “I was intrigued,” Hull said, "and professor Jeff Thompson helped me conclude that the Executive MPA program was a great fit for what I needed.” He enrolled in 2009.

As he went through the program at BYU Marriott, Hull felt his self-esteem increase. “The faculty was knowledgeable, personable, and always willing to listen. It was just the right mix of theory and practicality; it was an excellent education,” he said. “It gave me a personal confidence that I can walk in a boardroom, committee, or legislative session and be able to represent what our organization was all about in a way that was compelling,” Hull explained.

Neuroworx is now in its twentieth year of providing specialized physical, occupational, and speech therapy to adults and children experiencing paralysis. Through Hull’s efforts, the nonprofit has provided rehabilitative services, regardless of cost, to several thousand individuals.

Sharing his experiences at the MPA award ceremony, Hull remarked, “As I laid on my backyard trampoline completely paralyzed from the shoulders down, I never could have imagined a moment such as this. Surreal seems an inappropriate word. It is abundantly clear that one never knows exactly how a journey will evolve.”


Written by Maggie Olsen