Occupational Therapy Faculty and Staff
Allison Ellington, OTD, MS, OTR/L
Allison Ellington has been a faculty member at Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences since 2013. She earned a BS in occupational science and MS in occupational therapy from Ithaca College, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She later completed her post-professional OTD at Chatham University.
She has extensive practice experience in adult neurological rehabilitation, both in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation settings and continues to practice as an occupational therapist in both settings.
Dr. Ellington has been a member of a research team to develop an occupation-based virtual reality system that is now commercially available. She has published a number of articles on the outcomes of using virtual reality among individuals with stroke. Additionally, she has published and presented nationally on topics including the use of online journal clubs to educate and support fieldwork educators, processes and outcomes of the entry-level OTD doctoral experiential component, and faculty development and support.
When not working as an occupational therapist, Dr. Ellington enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children riding bikes, visiting playgrounds, and swimming.
Shelley Knewstep-Watkins, OTD,OTR/L
Shelley Knewstep-Watkins received her post-professional OTD from the University of St. Augustine, where she previously earned her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the College of William and Mary. She has been a practicing occupational therapist since 2008 working first in pediatric and adult rehabilitation at Brooks Rehab in Florida. At the University of Virginia Health System, she was a senior occupational therapist providing acute care services throughout the medical center as well as a leader of the interdisciplinary fall prevention team.
Dr. Knewstep-Watkins is a highly recognized expert on the role of occupational therapy for persons with Huntington’s disease, serving as the primary OT in the Huntington’s Disease Society of America Center of Excellence at UVA and authoring educational presentations as well as book chapters on this practice area. Additionally, she is a contributing member of a research team investigating interventions for children with cerebral palsy.
Lisa Burns, PhD, OTR/L
Lisa Burns completed her Ph.D. in Human Development (with a specialization in higher education) at Marywood University in Scranton in 2013. While in that interdisciplinary program she received the William G. McGowan Medal for Excellence in Doctoral Studies. Dr. Burns earned a master’s degree in Theology at the University of Scranton and received the Frank O’Hara Award for Academic Excellence in her studies. She completed her Occupational Therapy bachelor’s degree with honors at Indiana University. An occupational therapist for more than 25 years, her practice focused on older adults and management of rehabilitation teams. Prior to joining Mary Baldwin University, she spent more than a decade as an Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and also taught a variety of courses including kinesiology, pathology, and physical dysfunction. Dr. Burns has been actively involved in researching and presenting on topics related to professional development for a number of years. Currently, she is active in several professional organizations and enjoys presenting nationally and regionally on a variety of topics. Her scholarly interests include interprofessional competency and interprofessional identify, leadership development, and outcomes related to the entry level Occupational Therapy doctoral capstone experience. As a veteran of the United States Army, Dr. Burns holds a special place in heart for those who serve or have served; she is married to an Air Force veteran. Originally from Pennsylvania, Dr. Burns enjoys life as a ‘Virginia transplant’. She spends free time with her husband Brian, motorcycle touring back roads of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. She is also attempting to develop her green thumb and gardening skills.
Greg Hansen, PhD, MS, OTR/L
Greg Hansen received his PhD in Motor Learning from the University of Virginia. He has a Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from West Virginia University. Dr. Hansen has been a practicing occupational therapist for 20 years. Prior to coming to MDCHS he was employed at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDB). In addition to his work at VSDB, Dr. Hansen has practiced at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, Fayette County Schools (WV) schools, Augusta Health and a number of other hospital based centers. Dr. Hansen has been an invited guest speaker at many regional colleges and has supported OT students in training as a clinical instructor, receiving two awards as “outstanding fieldwork educator.” His area of expertise and his recent research focuses on children with special needs.
Pam Stephenson, OTD, MS, OTR/L
Dr. Pam Stephenson received her OT Degree from Ulster Polytechnic in Northern Ireland in 1984. In addition she has a Master’s Degree in Health Sciences (1995) from St. Georges Hospital Medical School, London, a Post-Professional MS in Occupational Therapy from San Jose University, and a Post-Professional Occupational therapy Doctorate from Rocky Mountain University (2014). In 2012, she was co-author of a book chapter “The Use of Psychosocial Methods and Interpersonal Strategies in Mental Health” as part of the 3rd edition of Psychosocial Occupational Therapy: An Evolving Practice. She is active in the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association (VOTA) and served as the “Blue Ridge District Chair” directing the VOTA activities in the region from 2009 until July 2015. Dr. Stephenson recently accepted the position of Forum Coordinator for the AOTA Early Intervention and School Special Interest Section (EISSIS). Her major areas of interest focus on mental health and autism.
Sandy Wagoner, OTD, MOTR/L, CHT
Sandy Wagoner received a BS degree in therapeutic recreation followed by a master’s in occupational therapy in 1985 from Texas Woman’s University. Her post-professional doctorate was obtained from Rocky Mountain University with an emphasis in administration and practice management. Dr. Wagoner has over 33 years of clinical experience working in a variety of settings including out-patient therapy, In-patient rehabilitation, private practice, home health and industrial rehabilitation and occupational health. She continues to practice at Augusta Health’s outpatient therapy clinic. Dr. Wagoner earned advanced certification in neurodevelopment treatment and became a certified hand therapist in 1997. She currently serves as the Work & Industry Special Interest Section forum coordinator for the American Occupational Therapy Association. She has presented on both the state and national level on topics of work injury prevention and common hand diagnoses, and treatment. Dr. Wagoner has co-presented on topic areas of graduate student core competencies, doctoral experiential components outcomes, and survival strategies for new faculty. Her current interests focus on investigating student lab simulation experiences and investigating sit-stand outcomes in graduate-level students.
David Pallister, JD, OTR/L
David Pallister received his Juris Doctorate from Rutgers Law School (Newark) and Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy from New York University. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Wagner College. An occupational therapist for over 20 years, Dr. Pallister’s clinical experience focused on adult/older-adult rehabilitation and ergonomics and work injury prevention. His professional and scholarly interests include best practices in occupational therapy online education; legal, legislative and policy issues related to occupational therapy practice and education; and professional advocacy. He currently serves as an advisor to the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Habilitation Policy Workgroup and as Chair of the Bylaws, Policies, and Procedures Committee for the Florida Occupational Therapy Association.
Hannah Harris, OTD, OTR/L
Hannah Harris received her entry-level OTD in 2010 from Belmont University and previously earned BS degrees in Kinesiology and Psychology from Shenandoah University. She currently serves as a member of the Roster of Accreditation Evaluators (RAE) for the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Dr. Harris has clinical experience working with populations across the lifespan with a special interest in the aging population. She is currently pursuing her certification as an Aging in Place Specialist and continues to practice one day a week in the long term care setting with emphasis in dementia care and caregiver education.
Sheri Montgomery, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Sheri Montgomery received her post-professional OTD from the University of Utah and her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University- Boston School of Occupational Therapy. She is currently completing a Doctorate in Education from West Florida University with a focus in Curriculum Development and Instructional Design. Practicing since 1980 in Wyoming and Utah, Dr. Montgomery’s clinical experience focused on children and youth, with experience in school, early intervention, outpatient rehab, and inpatient rehab/acute settings. She feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to practice in home health, long-term care, mental health, outpatient rehab, and inpatient rehab/acute settings with adults. Dr. Montgomery’s research and scholarly interests are in professional leadership and adult teaching and learning. Dr. Montgomery has been an active member of multiple state associations, serving in a variety of leadership roles. She has held several leadership roles in AOTA, including Chair of the Bylaws, Policies, and Procedures Committee, member of the Representative Assembly, AOTA Secretary, and Board Director. She is currently a Board Director for the American Occupational Therapy Association.
We are in the process of hiring additional faculty and staff — we expect a team of more than 30 professionals supporting our programs when at full capacity. Potential faculty members are encouraged to reference our website for current employment searches.