Kristie Patten Koenig Wins Grant to Promote Neurodiversity through Film

Congratulations to Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy Kristie Patten Koenig for winning an NYU Steinhardt Faculty Development and Diversity Innovation Project grant.

The funds are awarded to faculty members across the school who are working to heighten the community’s awareness of equity, inclusion, and diversity. Specifically, Koenig’s grant will fund a series of short films offering information about neurodiversity — created by neurodiverse students.

Explaining the importance of this project, Koenig said, “As the community of students who are on the autism spectrum grows, there is a need to educate the broader NYU community on neurodiversity.”

Faculty member awardees posing for a photo together.
Stella Flores, associate dean for faculty development and diversity (center), honored faculty awardees Kristie Patten Koenig, Nisha Sajnani, Maria Hodermarska, Frank Pignatosi, and Joe Salvatore (from right to left).

Collaborators on Koenig’s project include the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities and the Tisch School of the Arts.

New Faculty Spotlight: Amy Hurst

Amy Hurst

The Department of Occupational Therapy would like to spotlight Associate Professor Amy Hurst, who joined the NYU OT community this semester.

Hurst holds a joint appointment with the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the Technology, Culture, and Society Department in the Tandon School of Engineering. She is also the director of NYU’s Ability Project, an interdisciplinary research space dedicated to the intersection of disability and technology.

In the Q&A below, Professor Hurst shares more about her background, expertise, and what it’s like to teach future OTs.

Can you tell me a little about your background and research interests?

My undergraduate degree is in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. In my quest to understand the impact of the technology we were learning about, I pretty quickly became interested in accessibility and assistive technology. I went on to get my master’s and PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon — most of my work then was focusing on computer access. There is a ton of accessibility software baked into personal computers, but not many people know how to actually configure it. After finishing my degree, I worked at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) for 8.5 years doing more accessibility research.

While at UMBC, you worked on a National Science Foundation-funded project involving 3D printers. What might people not know about 3D printing?

3D printing is not magic — it can be very frustrating, which is one of the main reasons that a lot of 3D printers gather dust. There is a lot of marketing selling the fanciful idea that you push a button and the machine just goes, but the reality is that there are a ton of other steps that need to happen first. And then, once the machine is actually printing, it doesn’t always work. For a lot of people who are starting out in 3D printing, that’s a surprise. But once you have individuals who can become expert operators, you can empower more people to use the printer.

How can 3D printers benefit people like clinicians and individuals receiving therapy?

One exciting area I have studied in my past work is creating 3D-printed assistive technologies that are customized to a user’s unique needs. Specifically, I’ve studied how clinicians and end-users can learn to design and print personalized grips that can go on walkers, crutches, pencils, forks, and more. One of the advantages of having these items made on a 3D printer is that therapists can reproduce models efficiently — creating a practical sustainability plan if the item gets lost or broken.

What misconceptions might folks have about the intersection of ability/disability and technology?

When designing technology for a large and diverse user group, it is important to create systems that are customizable to accommodate diverse abilities, habits, and preferences. These systems must be flexible as it is common for abilities, habits, and preferences to change (on both short and long timescales). When designing for diverse ability, it is important to remember that some users may be gaining function (in a rehabilitation context), losing function (due to a chronic illness or disability), or experiencing short-term changes in function (due to medication, fatigue, stress, or the weather). We must fully understand a target user group, their context, and experiences to design useful, accessible technology.

Can you tell me more about the NYU Ability Project and your director role?

One of the most exciting things about the Ability Project is that it really is an interdisciplinary collaboration across faculty and students in OT, Tisch, and Tandon. Getting this diverse group together to learn with and from each other is really incredible. That’s one of the things that really excited me about this opportunity at NYU.

This semester, I spent a lot of time on a project with the NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities. This is a new dental clinic specifically targeted toward folks with disabilities — which is an entirely new approach to providing dental services for individuals who cannot receive traditional care. We were focused on the waiting room experience, and specifically creating a multi-sensory room where people who are feeling some anxiety around going to the dentist can interact with soothing technology. We’ve been collaborating with folks who have expertise in autism and special education as well as those in dentistry. It’s really interdisciplinary and exciting.

What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of teaching future OT’s?

Teaching accessibility to students who have clinical experience is fantastic. It’s something I hadn’t experienced before — they’re coming into the class with hands-on, personal experience. They can share this perspective and their training with other students, which is very exciting.

NYU OT at the 2019 AOTA Conference in New Orleans

NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy students, faculty, and staff traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana for this year’s American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Annual Conference & Expo.

For the fifth year, the department hosted a booth at the conference, providing an opportunity for faculty and staff to interact with attending alumni, current students, and prospective students interested in learning more about the occupational therapy programs offered through NYU Steinhardt.

This year’s conference included many highlights:

Award Recognitions

  • AOTF Academy of Research: Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy Yael Goverover was inducted into the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) Academy of Research at this year’s AOTA conference. The honor, which is the highest conferred by the AOTF, recognizes elite scientists and scholars who are advancing knowledge in the field of occupational therapy. Read more about Goverover’s recognition and research here.
Yael Goverover posing in front of the AOTA logo.
Yael Goverover, middle, was recognized at AOTA for her contributions to the field.
  • TODOS Service Award: Academic Fieldwork Coordinator Alison Rangel received an award from TODOS (Terapia Ocupacional para Diversidad, Oportunidad y Solidaridad), a Hispanic/Latino-focused professional community of occupational therapy practitioners and students promoting diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism within the profession.

Alumni Reception and Department Honors

The department hosted its annual alumni reception to facilitate connections between former students — the event was also attended by over 30 current students.

The reception featured the broad announcement of two department honors:

  • Jim Hinojosa Distinguished Alumni Award: Dr. Gary Bedell, a two-time alumnus of the department, was awarded the third annual Jim Hinojosa Distinguished Alumni Award for the contributions he has made to the OT profession while working to benefit youth with disabilities. Click here to read a Q&A with Dr. Bedell about his work.

NYU OT Can Dance

For the 2nd year, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator Alison Rangel led a dance break encouraging conference participants to stretch, let loose, and move their bodies to the beat of salsa, merengue, and samba music.

The department’s skill on the dance floor was further solidified when students Lauren Gramatica, Jessica Si, and Daniel Yi took home the top prize in an “OTs Got Talent” dance competition. Click here for a video of their winning performance.

Faculty, Staff, and Student Participation

A large group of students at AOTA holding an NYU flag.
Members of the NYU OT community on the expo floor.

The NYU OT community presented a range of research and findings at this year’s conference.

Kristin Castle – OTD Student

  • RD 4012 – Exploring the Prevalence of Cognitive Deficits Within a Population of Individuals Post Acute Mild Stroke with additional speakers Steve Van Lew, MS, OTR/L, NYU Langone Health; Adrienne Dicembri, MS, OTR/L, NYU Langone Health; Megan Evangelist, MS, OTR/L, NYU Health Langone.
  • RD 7017 – Identifying Cognitive Assessments for Individuals Post-Mild-Stroke in the Acute-Care Setting: A Review of the Psychometrics and Feasibility.
  • RD 5017 – A Clinical Guideline To Promote Return to Work Post-Male-to-Female Gender Reassignment Surgery. Danielle Kearns, MS, OTR, Intensive Therapeutics, Inc and Tsu-Hsin Howe, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, NYU.

Szu-Wei Chen – PhD Candidate

  • GP 7012 – Measuring Leisure Participation in the Adult Population: A Review and Suggestion for Developing a Better Instrument.

Chia-Yang Chiang – OTD Student

  • DD 8004 – Using Social Cognitive Career Theory to Facilitate School-to-Adulthood Transition for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with additional speaker Tsu-Hsin Howe, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, NYU.

Patricia Gentile – Clinical Assistant Professor

  • RD 3018 – Clinical and Nonclinical Factors that Predict Discharge Disposition After a Fall: Considerations for OT in Early Discharge Planning with Melissa James, PhD, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center; R. Robitsek, PhD, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center; Syed Saghir, MD, Department of Medicine, University of Nevada; Marylin Ramos, MS, PT, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center; Frances Perez, LMSW, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

Yael Goverover – Associate Professor

  • Research 8020 – The Validity of the Weekly Calendar Planning Activity for People With Multiple Sclerosis. Diane Rose Allid, MA, NYU, and additional speaker Melissa Orenstein, NYU.
  • Short Course 338 – Remembering to Remember in Everyday Life: Prospective Memory as a Critical Aspect of Functional Cognition with additional speaker Erin Foster, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, Washington University.

Tsu-Hsin Howe – Associate Professor

  • RD 5017 – A Clinical Guideline To Promote Return to Work Post-Male-to-Female Gender Reassignment Surgery. Danielle Kearns, MS, OTR, Intensive Therapeutics, Inc and Tsu-Hsin Howe, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, NYU with additional speaker Kristin Castle, MS, OTR/L, NYU Langone Health.
  • DD 8004 – Using Social Cognitive Career Theory to Facilitate School-to-Adulthood Transition for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities with Chia-Yang Chiang, MA, OTR/L, NYC Dept. of Education.

Danielle Kearns – PhD Student

  • RD 5017 – A Clinical Guideline To Promote Return to Work Post-Male-to-Female Gender Reassignment Surgery with Tsu-Hsin Howe, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, NYU, and additional speaker Kristin Castle, MS, OTR/L, NYU Langone Health.

Grace Kim – Assistant Professor

  • RD 1003 – Perspectives on Mobile Technology Use and Home Exercise Programs in Stroke Rehabilitation with additional speakers Stephanie Katz, NYU; Nicole MacWhirter, NYU; Hannah Cohen, NYU.

Chang Dae Lee – PhD Candidate

  • PA 1006 – The Necessities of Postoperative Delirium Prevention as a Standard Practice in OT Acute-Care Intervention.

Janet Njelesani – Assistant Professor

  • Research 5010 – OTs’ Roles in Addressing Bullying Against Students With Disabilities with additional authors Beth Schweitzer OTR/L, NYU; Aisha Faulkner OTR/L, NYU; Hayden Jeon OTR/L, NYU.

Alison Rangel – Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and OTD Student

  • Institute 007 – (AOTA) Becoming an Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. Jaynee Taguchi Meyer, OTD, OTR/L, University of Southern California and Jamie Geraci, OTR/L, Occupational Therapy Education Consultants with additional speakers Jeanette Koski, OTD, OTR/L, University of Utah; Rebecca Ozelie, DHS, OTR/L, Rush University.

Mary Shea – Adjunct Faculty

  • Workshop 208 – Effective OT Services in ALS Care and Disease Progression. Amber Ward, MS, OTR/L, FAOTA, BCPR, ATP/SMS, Carolinas Neuromuscular ALS/MDA Center, Atrium Health and additional speakers Cathy Carver, PT, ATP/SMS, UAB/Spain Rehabilitation Center.

Brocha Stern – PhD Candidate

  • RD 1004 – Pain in the Hand . . . or Head? A Mindset Shift for Pain Assessment and Intervention in Hand Therapy with additional speakers Hannah Gift, MOT, OTR/L, CHT, SSM Health Physical Therapy – Select Medical Rehabilitation.
  • RD 2024 – The Dangers of Specialization: Appreciating the Interdependence of Body Systems in Upper Extremity Health with additional speakers: Hannah Gift, MOT, OTR/L, CHT, SSM Health Physical Therapy – Select Medical Rehabilitation.
  • RD 3002 – A Conceptual Framework of Self-Management After Acute Musculoskeletal Hand Injury.
  • Research 2018 – “I Don’t Have a Magic Wand”: The Why and How of Patient Education in Outpatient Physical Rehabilitation. Abigail Brody, NYU with authors Promita Banik, NYU; Alisa Doshi, NYU; Prema Khan, NYU; Joy Sarraf, NYU, and additional speakers Emma Gentile, NYU; Emma Hecht, NYU; Kathryn Pelech, NYU.

Margaret Waskiewicz –  OTD Student

  • RD 1008 – It Takes Two: An Evidence-Based Approach to Incorporating Task-Oriented Training With Bilateral Arm Training for Motor Relearning. Samantha Levine, MS, OTR/L, NYU Langone Health-Rusk Rehabilitation.
  • Short Course 138 – Road Map to Evidence-Based Practice (EBP): Practical Application of Vision 2025 in an Outpatient Neuro Rehabilitation Setting. Claribell Bayona, OTD, OTR/L, CSRS, NYU Langone Health with additional speaker Nandita Singh, MPH, OTR/L, NYU Langone Health.

Faculty Achievements: Grants and Publications Fall 2018 – Spring 2019

Patricia Gentile – Clinical Assistant Professor

  • Youngstown, M. J. & Gentile, P.A. (2019). Supervision. In B.Schell & G. Gillen (Eds.) Williard and Spackman’s Occupational Therapy (13th Ed.) Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Yael Goverover – Associate Professor

  • Goverover, Y., Toglia, J., & Deluca, J. (2019). The weekly calendar planning activity in multiple sclerosis : A top-down assessment of executive functions. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 0(0), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/09602011.2019.1584573.
  • Goverover, Y., Genova, H. M., Smith, A., Lengenfelder, J., & Chiaravalloti, C. D. (2018). Changes in Activity Participation Following Multiple Sclerosis. International Journal of MS Care.
  • Saleh, S., Sandroff, M. B., Vitiello, T., Owoeye, O., Hoxha, A., Hake, P., Goverover, Y., Wylie, G. R., Yue, G. H., & DeLuca, J. (2018). The Role of Premotor Areas in Dual Tasking in Healthy Controls and Persons with Multiple Sclerosis: An fNIRS imaging study. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 12, 1-11.
  • Kalb, R., Beier, M., Benedict, R.H.B., Charvet, L., Costello, K., Feinstein, A., Gingold, .J, Goverover, Y., Halper, J., Harris, C., Kostich, L., Krupp, L., Lathi, E., LaRocca, N., Thrower, B., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Recommendations for Cognitive Screening and Management in Multiple Sclerosis Care. Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Chiaravalloti, N. D., Goverover, Y., Costa, S. L., & DeLuca, J. (2018). A Pilot Study Examining Speed of Processing Training (SPT) to Improve Processing Speed in persons with Multiple Sclerosis. Frontiers in Neurology, 9,685. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2018.00685 (Manuscript ID: 389748).
  • Stern, B., & Goverover, Y. (2018). An occupational perspective of everyday technology use for men with multiple sclerosis. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1177/0308022618777985.
  • Akbar, N., Sandroff, B., Wylie, G., Strober, L.B., Smith, A., Goverover, Y., Motl, R.W., DeLuca, J., & Genova, H. (2018). Progressive resistance exercise training and changes in resting-state functional connectivity of the caudate in persons with multiple sclerosis and severe fatigue: A proof-of-concept study. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1080/09602011.2018.1449758. PMID: 29618280.
  • Stern, B. Z., Strober, L., DeLuca, J., & Goverover, Y. (2018). Subjective well-being differs with age in multiple sclerosis: A brief report. Rehabilitation Psychology, 63(3), 474-478. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rep0000220 PMID: 30113202.
  • Goverover, Y., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Assessing everyday life functional activity using actual reality in persons with MS. Rehabilitation Psychology. 63(2), 276-285. doi: 10.1037/rep0000212. PubMed PMID: 29878832.
  • Goverover, Y., Sandroff, B., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Dual-task of fine motor skill and problem-solving in individuals with multiple sclerosis: A pilot study.  Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 99(4):635-640. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.10.012. PMID: 29108966.
  • Goverover Y., Chiaravalloti, N., O’Brien, A., & DeLuca, J. (2018). Evidenced based cognitive rehabilitation for persons with multiple sclerosis: An updated review of the literature from 2007-2016. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 99(2), 390-407. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.07.021. PMID:28958607.
  • Costa, S. L., DeLuca, J., Sandroff, B. M., Goverover, Y., & Chiaravalloti, N. D. (2018).The role of demographic and clinical factors in cognitive functioning of persons with relapsing-remitting and progressive multiple sclerosis. Journal of International Neuropsychology Society, 24(2), 139-146. doi: 10.1017/S1355617717000777. PMID: 28830576.
  • Kalina, J., Hinojosa, J., Strober, L., Bacon, J., Donnelly, S., & Goverover, Y. (2018). A randomized controlled trial to improve self-efficacy in persons with Multiple Sclerosis: The Community Reintegration for Socially Isolated Patients (CRISP) program. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72, 7205205030p1-7205205030p8. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2018.026864.

Tsu-Hsin Howe – Associate Professor

  • Howe, T.-H., Hinojosa, J., & Sheu, C.-F., A qualitative study of Latino-American mothers’ perspectives on feeding their young children (2019). American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
  • Howe, T.-H., Sheu, C.-F., & Wang, T.-N. (2019). Feeding pattern and parental perception of feeding issues of preterm infants in the first 2 years of life. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73, 7302205030. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2019.029397.
  • Kramer, P., Hinojosa, J. & Howe, T.-H. (2019). Frames of Reference for Pediatric Occupational Therapy. 4th Editions. Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer.
  • Howe, T.-H. (2018). Oromotor Therapy. In J. Ongkasuwan & E. C. Chiou (Eds), Pediatric Dysphagia: Challenges and Controversies (pp. 119-134). New York, NY: Springer.

Amy Hurst – Associate Professor

  • Hamidi, F., Kumar, S., Dorfman, M., Ojo, F., Kottapalli, M., & Hurst, A. (2019). SenseBox: A DIY Prototyping Platform to Create Audio Interfaces for Therapy. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI ’19). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 25-34. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3294109.3295633.
  • Kearney-Volpe, C., Holloway S., & Hurst, A. (2019). Entertainment for All: Understanding Media Streaming Accessibility. Proceedings of CHI ’19 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’19). (To Appear).
  • Kearney-Volpe, C., Hurst, A., & Fitzgerald, S. (2019). Blind Web Development Training at Oysters and Pearls Technology Camp in Uganda. Proceedings of Proceedings of the 16th Web for all Conference. (W4A ’19). (To Appear).

Kristie Patten Koenig – Department Chair and Associate Professor

  • Patten Koenig, K. (2019). A strength based frame of reference for autistic individuals. In P. Kramer, J. Hinojosa & T. Howe (Eds.). Frames of reference for pediatric occupational therapy (4th edition).
  • Patten Koenig, K. & Shore, S. (2018). Self-determination and a shift to a strengths based model. In R. Watling & S. Spitzer (Eds.), Autism: A  Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Approach, 4th edition, Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.
  • Co-Principal Investigator: “Developing Abilities and Knowledge for Careers in Design and Engineering for Students on the Autism Spectrum by Scaling Up Making Experiences.” (Principal Investigator Wendy Martin, PhD). National Science Foundation (NSF#1850289). Funded for 8/19 to 7/22. $514,629 subaward of $1,999,775 total award.
  • Principal Investigator: “Ghanaian Institute for the Future of Teaching and Education (GIFTED) Women’s Fellowship Program-Phase III.” (Co-Principal Investigator Rose Vukovic, Ph.D.). Banco Santander. Funded for 1/19 to 12/20. $278,000.
  • Principal Investigator: “NYU ASD Nest Support Project.” NYC Department of Education.  2018-2023 $8,401,750 Year 1: 11/1/18-6/30/19. $1,680,350.
  • Principal Investigator: “Long Beach, CA ASD Nest Training and Support.” Long Beach Public School District. 11/1/18 – 6/30/19. $36,500.
  • Principal Investigator: “ASD Nest supports, consultation, and professional development.” Norwalk Public School District. 3/1/18 – 6/30/19. $120,059.
  • Co-Principal Investigator: “IDEAS: Inventing, Designing and Engineering on the Autism Spectrum.”(Principal Investigator Wendy Martin, PhD). National Science Foundation (NSF#1614436). Funded for 9/16 to 8/19. $300,734 subaward of $1,193,170 total award.

Janet Njelesani – Assistant Professor

  • Njelesani, J. (2019). “A child who is hidden has no rights”: Responses to violence against children with disabilities. Child Abuse & Neglect, 89, 58-69. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.12.024.
  • Qualitative Research Affinity Group. NYU Steinhardt. Co-Applicant with Audrey Trainor and Natasha Strassfeld.

Gerald Voelbel – Associate Professor

  • Newman, R.M., Alfano, C., Radomski, M.V., Pergolotti, M., Wolf, T, Sleight, A., Leak, A.B., Voelbel, G.T., de Moor, J., Nitkin, R., Daniels, E., Braveman, B., Walker, R.K., Williams, G., Winters-Stone, K.M., Cheville, A., Campbell, S., Lawlor, M., King, A., Ness, K., Srivastava, P., & Lyons, K.D. (2019). Catalyzing Research to Optimize Cancer Survivors’ Participation in Work and Life Roles. OTJR: Occupation, Participation, and Health.
  • Co-Principal Investigator: “Verbal Working Memory and Attention Remediation for Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury.” Global Research Incubator Award, $15,040. Funded: 9/19 – 8/20.

Global Perspectives: NYU OT Students Study Rehabilitation in Israel

This year, Associate Professors Yael Goverover and Gerry Voelbel from NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy traveled to Israel with students to participate in a course entitled “Disability in a Global Context.”

Taking place in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and surrounding communities, the class focused on the services available to individuals with disabilities living in Israel through an exploration of local schools, hospitals, markets, museums, and other spaces.

By incorporating this international study into their coursework, students had the opportunity to compare and contrast the rehabilitation programs available to children and adults with disabilities in Israel with those offered in the United States.

Professors standing in the desert with arms outstretched.
Professors Goverover and Voelbel, who taught Disability in a Global Context during the 2019 January Intersession.

In particular, the course investigated the impact of Israel’s unique cultural, political, and historical context in shaping the rehabilitation services offered throughout the country.

The course also enabled students to interact first-hand with state-of-the-art occupational therapy technology available in Israel. At Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, students experienced the intersection of virtual reality and rehabilitative therapy and learned how computerized technology, sensors, and video analysis can help speed patient recovery.

A student on a treadmill in front of a TV screen.
A student trying a virtual reality therapy technique available at The Virtual Reality Training Facility at Sheba Medical Center..

Between lectures, hands-on field visits, and interviews, students also had time to partake in quintessential Israeli activities, such as swimming in the Dead Sea, hiking in the Negev Desert, and tasting local cuisine.

Throughout these experiences, students benefited from Professor Goverover’s nuanced knowledge of Israeli culture and customs as a native of the country.

A group photo of the class standing in the sea.
The class swimming in the Dead Sea and enjoying the area’s mineral-rich mud.

Next year, students will have the opportunity to study with OT faculty in London and Shanghai — check out NYU Steinhardt Global Affairs for future application dates.

Class Notes Spring 2019

Emily L. Amaral (MS ’15) is a registered adaptive riding instructor now — and also provides OT integrating hippotherapy into patients’ plans of care while aspiring towards HPCS certification.

Connie Charney (MA ’80) is the Founder of Food for Thoughts Cards, greeting cards that give back and feed the hungry. While commuting to NYU when she was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of OT for twelve years, Connie packed PB&J’s to give to the homeless. She’s taken that sandwich-giving up a notch through Food for Thoughts Cards. 40,000 PB&J sandwiches have been donated to feed individuals in need.

Rhoda Scherer Cohen (BS ’49, MA ’76) is 91 years old and has been a working OT for 70 years and a patient with degenerative polyneuropathy for almost 5 years. She recently published an article in AOTA’s April 2019 OT Practice Magazine on helping clients transition to living with a disability.

Diane Powers-Foltz Dirette (MA ’93, PhD ’97) and Sharon Gutman (PhD ’98) are the new editors of the textbook Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction, 8th Edition. This essential OT textbook was formerly edited by Radomski and Trombly. The new edition will be available soon!    

Mary V. Donohue (MA ’73, PhD ’85) has published an art book on the work of her second cousin, Marion Greenwood, in which the artist depicts occupational therapy activities for men returning for rehabilitation at the end of World War II. Ms. Greenwood was hired by the United States Army to record this historical intervention for wounded veterans carried out at a hospital on the beach in Atlantic City, NJ. Dr. Donohue has contributed a copy of the book to the Occupational Therapy Departmental Library.

Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Griffin Lannigan (PhD ’04) is the co-author of AOTA’s 2019 Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Adults Living with Serious Mental Illness. Liz is currently the chair of the AOTA Mental Health Special Interest Section. Currently, Liz is adjunct faculty at the University of New Hampshire.

Carolyn Russo-Azer (MA ’85) has worked the past 34 years in Pediatrics/Early Intervention and is currently the Director for Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey’s Early Intervention Program.

Anna Sampsonidis (MA ’89) has lived in Greece since 1993. She is Head of the Occupational Therapy Department of Metropolitan College in Thessaloniki, Greece. Anna is co-owner of two pediatric therapy centers and the organizer of a certification program in Sensory Integration in collaboration with the University of Southern California. A leading expert in pediatric practice in Greece, she teaches and presents within the country as well as Cyprus and other European countries.  

Anne Scott (BS ’69, MS ’82, PhD ’95) has spent 50 years in OT and going strong. She recently presented a paper at the NYSOTA Conference (11/2018) based on the chapter “Narrative Reasoning in Disability-Themed Films.” This was co-authored with her husband, Richard, and published in Global Perspectives in Professional Reasoning (Creek, J. & Cole, M., 2016, Slack).

Chaya Weinstein (MA ’92, PhD ’98) now has an NYC-based private practice in therapeutic coaching after 30 years as a proud occupational therapist working in the mental health field. She assists people with stress, anxiety, or mental health issues and is happy to speak with you or someone you know who might benefit from her services. She can be reached at ecweinstein@gmail.com or 646-902-5098.

Sheila Wilson (MA ’94) is working as a supervisor at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia PA. She completed her OTD in 2016 from AT Still University in AZ and was recently elected as the state representative to the AOTA Representative Assembly for Pennsylvania.

Diana Chen Wong (BS ’90) is currently a Senior Director of Rehab at ManorCare in NJ. She recently completed her OTD from Thomas Jefferson University in January 2019, with her Doctoral Capstone on implementing evidence-based research in practice for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and neurocognitive disorders. She continues to be on the adjunct faculty at NYU and for the OTA program at Rutgers University. She also is in private practice as a Certified Life Coach.

Posted on | Posted in Class Notes |

Janet Njelesani Awarded National Academy of Education Spencer Fellowship

Photo of Janet Njelesani.

Janet Njelesani, an assistant professor of occupational therapy in NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, was awarded a $70,000 grant from the National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the phenomenon of school violence in Lusaka, Zambia.

Njelesani’s project, “Generating and Preventing Violence: Schools’ Responses to School Violence Against Students with Disabilities in Zambia,” is investigating how social, cultural, and institutional practices influence inclusion, protection, and education for children with disabilities in Lusaka.

“Although some one million children are living with disabilities in Zambia and the country is committed to education for all children, little is known about children with disabilities’ school experiences, including the violence that may be perpetrated against them,” she said.

Alongside local partners like the Ministry of Education in Zambia, Njelesani is conducting interviews with teachers, school leadership, and students with disabilities to explore the relationships between educators’ attitudes and behaviors and their corresponding responses to school violence.

The findings of her project will provide direction for school violence prevention and intervention efforts, with the goal of enhancing the effectiveness of educator support and school protection policies.

Njelesani’s research will expand upon her previous pilot projects exploring violence against children with disabilities in Zambia — click here to read more about her work in the region.

Yael Goverover Inducted into the AOTF Academy of Research

The NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to announce that Associate Professor Yael Goverover was inducted into the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) Academy of Research.

The honor, which is the highest conferred by the AOTF, recognizes individuals who have made significant research contributions to the occupational therapy profession. The 2019 class of inductees was recently honored at the American Occupational Therapy Association conference held in New Orleans.

Dr. Goverover joins the ranks of an elite group of scientists and scholars advancing knowledge in the field of occupational therapy. Her scholarship is based upon the need for research studies in occupational therapy that help improve the lives of individuals with functional multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injuries, with a particular focus on enabling these individuals to perform everyday activities.

“I hope that my work (and others’) will improve the lives of persons with cognitive impairments,” she said. “I hope that the research we do will alleviate cognitive impairments and facilitate the transfer and generalization of treatment gains into their daily lives.”

Congratulations to Yael Goverover — click here to read more about her contributions to the field.

Third Annual Jim Hinojosa Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Announced

Photo of Gary Bedell.

We are pleased to announce the recipient of the third annual Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award, Dr. Gary Bedell. The award, named in honor of the late Dr. Jim Hinojosa’s immense impact on the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy and the entire OT field, recognizes outstanding NYU OT alumni making significant contributions to the profession.

Dr. Bedell is a two-time alumnus of the department, having earned his post-professional master’s degree at NYU in 1986 and his PhD in 1998. He is currently chair of Tufts University’s Department of Occupational Therapy and has dedicated his career to informing the development of interventions, programs, and policies designed to promote meaningful participation of children and youth with disabilities in real-life contexts.

He has authored or co-authored numerous widely-used tools for measuring and promoting participation, including the Child and Adolescent Scale of Participation (CASP), the Participation and Environment Measure for Children and Youth (PEM-CY), and Social Participation and Navigation (SPAN).

Read on for a Q&A with Dr. Bedell exploring his research, advice for future OTs, and what it was like to work with Dr. Hinojosa.

What inspired you to pursue the occupational therapy profession?

I always knew that I wanted to do something to help other people. I had experienced mental health issues in my high school years, but I was able to overcome them with the support of friends, family, and therapy. I knew I wanted to work with youth with mental health challenges, but I didn’t think that pursuing traditional talk therapy was “me.” Learning from my own experiences, I did some research and discovered the link between OT interventions and mental health. Although my interests ultimately changed as I went on in my field work, one of the nice things about OT is that there are often many available opportunities to explore during your career.

How do you think your education at NYU Steinhardt prepared you to become a leader in the field?

When I was a student, NYU was very pluralistic in terms of research design and purpose — I was able to take many research design courses which served me well in terms of my ability to conduct mixed-methods research in my career. It was emphasized that you have to know how to use the research methods that will best fit your research questions. My experience was also unique because I was an adjunct associate professor at NYU. I was teaching and getting other types of interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities that taught me to be a leader. All of my research and scholarship is interdisciplinary, and I attribute this to the opportunities made available to me at NYU.

You have worked extensively to develop measures and interventions to benefit those with traumatic and other acquired brain injuries. Can you tell us more?

I was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship at Boston University that focused on children and youth with traumatic and other acquired brain injuries. When I say acquired brain injury, I mean acquired after birth — for example, strokes, brain tumors, seizure disorders, or brain infections. During this period, the international World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) was being developed, so a lot of relevant concepts were being discussed, particularly the concept of participation. Very generally, participation means involvement in life situations.

One of my first projects was to develop a survey to follow up with families on their children and adolescent youth discharged from inpatient rehabilitation. The survey included areas that weren’t necessarily being looked at, like their social environment, physical environment, attitudinal environment, and participation. The survey included measures that could be used on their own, such as the Child and Adolescent Scale of Participation (CASP), that is used with other populations and has been translated into multiple languages for use in many countries worldwide. Often one opportunity leads to another, so subsequently I was asked to participate in the development of additional participation measures (PEM-CY) and an app-based coaching intervention to promote social participation among teenagers with traumatic brain injuries called SPAN.

What do you consider your most significant accomplishment in the field?

My measurement and intervention work have had the most world-wide impact, but I feel like my most significant accomplishment was my outreach work and research related to HIV that I conducted during my time at NYU. The outreach focused on the needs of children and families affected by HIV/AIDS, and the research focused on how people with HIV/AIDS, particularly gay men, managed their daily lives and developed strategies based on the experience of living with their symptoms. There was a lot of stigma at the time and people were afraid to work with people with HIV. A lot of the time this fear comes from not knowing, so I think it’s a significant accomplishment that my work helped to raise awareness.

What was it like to work alongside Jim Hinojosa?

Jim really was my first true mentor in my career — I’m indebted to him. He allowed me to be me, had a great sense of humor, was very generous with his time, and offered me so many opportunities! He asked me to be part of a lot of interdisciplinary research collaborations with other faculty and saw something in me that gave me the confidence to be a part of those teams. He also encouraged me to enroll in NYU’s PhD program, encouraged me to publish early on before my PhD, and helped my research dissemination efforts, which exposed me to other local and national and opportunities.

What advice do you have for OTs beginning their careers?

It will all come together! It is important to be your authentic self and continue to develop knowledge and skills — a lifelong process — and seek out opportunities because it’s usually those opportunities that lead to other opportunities. There are so many options within the OT field. The key is to find a place where you feel valued and supported that does work that is important to you and those you serve.

Inclusion and the Abu Dhabi Special Olympics: A Conversation with Kristie Koenig and Janet Njelesani

Photo of Janet Njelesani and Kristie Koenig. Photo courtesy of Amy Kang.

Janet Njelesani (left) and Kristie Koenig (right). Photo courtesy of Amy Kang.

Kristie Koenig, chair of NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, and Janet Njelesani, an assistant professor in the department, recently spoke with The Gazelle about inclusion in the context of the Special Olympics World Games currently taking place in Abu Dhabi.

“Hopefully, through the Special Olympics and other national efforts that support inclusion, people living in the United Arab Emirates will get more chances to interact and build relationships with People of Determination,” Koenig said.

The two professors recently taught a J-Term course at NYU Abu Dhabi exploring the topic of inclusion both inside and outside the UAE.

“Our class was actually composed of 17 people from 17 different countries, and so each student was able to bring a unique perspective about their countries’ policies related to inclusion and people with disabilities,” Njelesani added.

Read the full Q&A with Koenig and Njelesani here.