Innovative brain injury rehabilitation center breaks ground in Southeast Houston

The Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute is expected to be finished in 2023. Image courtesy of Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute

The Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute broke ground July 14 on a 64,000-square-foot research and rehabilitation center at Nassau Bay's Space Park, near NASA's Johnson Space Center.

The Nassau Bay City Council granted a permit last year for the project, which will provide room for up to 40 residential patients and space for outpatient services. About 150 people will work at the facility, which is scheduled to open in early 2023.

Aside from private inpatient rooms, the new center will feature a therapy gym, an outdoor therapy courtyard, and family apartments. The facility's "urban house" design will highlight natural colors and textures in an effort to stimulate patients' senses during the recovery process.

The new facility will 40 resident patients, as well as provide outpatient care. Image courtesy of Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute

Among the 40 or so people who attended the groundbreaking ceremony were representatives of Moody Neuro, Houston-based architecture firm Kirksey Architecture, Galveston-based general contractor JW Kelso Construction, and Dallas-based project manager Pritchard Associates.

The Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute treats people who've suffered brain injuries. The nonprofit operates a rehabilitation center in Galveston and another Lubbock, as well as a long-term care facility in each of the two cities. In fiscal 2019, the organization reported nearly $27.8 million in revenue and more than $15.1 million in expenses.

The facility broke ground this week. Photo courtesy of Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute

Philanthropist Robert Moody Sr., chairman emeritus of Galveston-based Moody National Bank, founded what now is Moody Neuro in 1982 after his son Russell sustained serious injuries in a car crash that caused a traumatic brain injury.

"By helping our patients minimize their disability while facilitating their recovery, we provide each individual with the ability to re-enter the community feeling healthier, more confident, and with tools to enjoy an improved quality of life," says Dr. Ana Durand, medical director of Moody Neuro Galveston.

The Brain Injury Association of America says more than 144,000 Texans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, with more than 5,700 of them become permanently disabled. Roughly 381,000 Texans are living with a disability connected to traumatic brain injury.

The 64,000-square-foot campus is unlike any other. Photo courtesy of Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute

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Building Houston

 
 

Kelly Avant, investment associate at Houston-based Mercury Fund, shares how and why she made her way into the venture capital arena. Photo courtesy of Mercury

Kelly Avant didn't exactly pave a linear career path for herself. After majoring in gender studies, volunteering in the Peace Corps, and even attending law school — she identified a way to make a bigger impact: venture capital.

"VC is an awesome way to shape the future in a more positive way because you literally get to wire money to the most innovative thinkers, who are building solutions to the world’s problems," Avant tells InnovationMap.

Avant joined the Mercury Fund team last year as an MBA associate before joining full time as investment associate. Now, after completing her MBA from Rice University this month, Avant tells InnovationMap why she's excited about this new career in investment in a Q&A.

InnovationMap: From law school and the peace corps, what drew you to start a career in the VC world?

Kelly Avant: I graduated from Rice University with an MBA, starting scouting for an investment firm in my first year, and by the summer after my first year I was essentially working full-time interning with Mercury. But, I like to tell people about my undergraduate degree in gender studies and rhetoric from a little ski college in Colorado. If you meet someone else in venture capital with a degree in gender studies, please connect us, but I think I might be the only one. I’ll spare you what I used to think — and say — about business students, but I have really come full circle.

I always thought I would work in a nonprofit space, but after serving in Cambodia with the Peace Corps, working for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and briefly attending Emory Law School with the intention of becoming a civil rights lawyer.I found that time and time again the root of the problem was a lack of resources. The world’s problems were not going to be solved with my idealism alone.

The problem with operating as a nonprofit in a capitalism is you basically always pandering to the interests of the donors. The NFL was a key sponsor of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The United States has a complicated, to put it lightly, relationship with Cambodia and Vietnam. It became pretty clear that the donor/nonprofit relationship was oftentimes putting the wrong party in the driver’s seat. I was, and still am, very interested in alternative financing for nonprofits. I became convinced that the most exciting businesses were building solutions to the world’s problems while also turning a profit, which allows them to survive to have a sustainable positive impact.

VC is an awesome way to shape the future in a more positive way because you literally get to wire money to the most innovative thinkers, who are building solutions to the world’s problems.

IM: What are some companies you’re excited about?

KA: There are a couple super interesting founders I’ve met directly engaging with . To name a few: CiviTech, DonateStock, and Polco.

I’m very proud to work on mercury investments like Houston’s own, Topl, which has built an extremely lightweight and energy efficient Blockchain that enables tracking of ethical supply chains from the initial interaction.
I’m also excited about mercury’s investment in Zirtue, which enables relationship based peer to peer lending to solve the massive problem of predatory payday loans.

We have so many awesome founders in our portfolio. The best part about working in VC is meeting passionate innovators every day. I get excited to go to work everyday and help them to build better solutions.

IM: Why are you so passionate about bringing diversity and inclusion into Mercury?

KA: I love working with exciting, highly capable, super smart people. That category includes so many people who have been historically excluded. As an investment team member at Mercury, I do have a voice, and I have an obligation to use that voice to speak highly of the best people in rooms of influence.

IM: With your new role, what are you most focused on?

KA: In my new role, I am identifying and researching high potential investments. We’re building out a Mercury educational series to lift the veil of VC. We want to facilitate a series that gives all founders the basic skills to pass VC due diligence and have the opportunity to build the next innovative companies. My goal is ultimately to produce the best returns possible for our investors, and we can’t accomplish that goal unless we’re building out resources to meet the best founders and help them grow.

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This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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