Small Business Center – Critical Role in Pinehurst’s Neuropsychology’s Development

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According to information from the Mayo Clinic, minor memory problems and a modest decline in thinking skills is fairly common with age. Some memory problems are

Dr. Karen Sullivan

the result of treatable conditions. Normal changes and those associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other related disorders have some notable differences that should be evaluated by a specialist. Early and accurate diagnosis of memory changes is critical to getting the right treatment, some of which can delay memory loss. Pinehurst Neuropsychology is the home to three memory specialists and is the only practice of its kind for at least 60 miles in all directions.

Karen D. Sullivan, Ph.D., ABPP, founder of Pinehurst Neuropsychology, previously worked as a clinical neuropsychologist in the Sandhills area in a group practice. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to address a need for a stand-alone medical practice exclusively focusing on memory concerns, particularly in older adults.


Prior to coming to Pinehurst, Sullivan was an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. She received her doctoral degree at Boston University in 2009 and then completed her internship and post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at the VA Boston Healthcare System, through Harvard Medical School and the Boston University School of Medicine. She is Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Small Business Center

With very little practical business knowledge but tons of enthusiasm, Sullivan visited Sandhills Community College’s Small Business Center in August of 2013. At the Small Business Center she was warmly greeted by Marilyn Neely, director of the Center at that time. Neely asked her a series of questions evaluating the idea’s feasibility.

In a matter of minutes, Neely walked Sullivan through the essential first steps including writing a business proposal and applying for a business loan. “Marilyn’s support and assistance, connecting me with other professionals, was a critical building block in turning my idea of opening my own medical practice into a reality,” said Sullivan.

Within two months, Sullivan obtained funding, secured an office, hired staff and Pinehurst Neuropsychology was established in November of 2013. Since that time, the practice has grown rapidly and now has three neuropsychologists, a counselor and five staff members.

Future Goals

Sullivan’s long-term goal is to serve as a regional center of excellence for the assessment and treatment of people and families living with brain related disorders particularly those involving memory including dementia.

“From the earliest days of planning, I knew I wanted a practice that was genuinely welcoming to patients and families. I also knew going to see a neuropsychologist was often considered a stressful experience and that early diagnosis of memory disorders including dementia is essential for a more promising prognosis,” continues Sullivan. “With these conditions in mind the environment needs to be warm and inviting.”

True to Sullivan’s vision, Pinehurst’s Neuropsychology has a comfortable atmosphere with beautiful furnishings and artwork to greet patients. As owner and director of the establishment, Sullivan was also adamant that all staff interacting with the patient, from doctors to administrative staff, have an attitude of helpfulness and genuine concern.

Mission and Vision

“Business owners spend a lot of time thinking about why they opened their business, what they hope to contribute to the community and how this will happen in the day-to-day operations but how do you ensure that you and your team members are on the same page? All too often owners assume this important process happens naturally through a passive permeation of the owner’s beliefs and motivations. Success is impeded when employees and owners do not share the same vision of the business,” stresses Sullivan.

Sullivan has this advice when developing your mission statement, “It is critical to articulate your core values in a succinct format so everyone who interacts with your business understands the hows and whys of what makes your business unique.”

“Much of what we do at the Small Business Centers, is coax the enthusiasm and entrepreneurial dreams of those with viable concepts and to present the reality of the hard work required of small business owners,” says Lori Williams, director of the Small Business Center at Sandhills Community College.


For more information about the Small Business Center at Sandhills Community College, call Lori Williams at 910-695-3938 or visit the website at


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