Occupational Therapy Faculty and Staff

    Pam Story

    Assistant Professor, Director Division of Allied Health, Program Director and Coordinator of Graduate Academics and Advising Graduate Occupational Therapy Program

    (845) 848-6039
    Email: pamela.story@dc.edu

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    B.S., Utica College of Syracuse University
    O.T.D., Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions

        Sandra Block

        Adjunct Lecturer

        Email: sandra.block@dc.edu

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        B.S., Dominican College
        M.S., Dominican College
        OTD, Chatham University

            Catherine Cavaliere

            Assistant Professor

            Phone: (845) 848-6034
            Email: catherine.cavaliere@dc.edu

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            B.A., Catholic University
            Post Baccalaureate Certificate in OT, Quinnipiac University
            Ph.D., Seton Hall University

            Academic Biography

            Dr. Cavaliere graduated from Quinnipiac College’s Occupational Therapy Program in 1998. She received her PhD in Health Science from Seton Hall University in 2010. Her doctoral work involved investigating the physiologic components of sensory processing disorders (SPD) and the differences in the physiologic responses to sensation in children with autism and typically developing children.

            Dr. Cavaliere has been a practicing clinician for over 20 years and has spent 15 of those working in pediatrics. She opened her own private practice in 2014 where she serves children and adolescents with sensory processing disorders and their families. Dr. Cavaliere spends much of her clinical time coaching and empowering families to become self- aware and self- confident both as individuals, and as a family unit.

            Dr. Cavaliere has completed Mentorship Level 1 &2 and the Research Mentorship at the STAR center for sensory processing disorders. She is currently an instructor in training with STAR center. She has lectured extensively to various audiences including scholars, colleagues, teachers and parents, on sensory processing and related topics.

            Dr. Cavaliere is spearheading a Sensory Health clinic at Dominican College. This clinic will serve undergraduate students who are at risk for academic failure or mental health challenges. Dr. Cavaliere is passionate about the role of sensory health in overall health and well-being and is committed to bringing this awareness to the students at Dominican College.

            Dr. Cavaliere, along with Prof. Damaio and the second year research students, is conducting an expansive critically appraised topic on the role of sensory processing in health and well-being including the role of sensory processing in mental health, physical health, resilience, relationships, self-actualization, addiction and incarceration. This will be presented as a short course at the 2020 AOTA National Conference in Boston.

            Dr. Cavaliere is the faculty mentor for the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon, Occupational Therapy’s National Honor Society. The mission of the PTE is to promote scholarship among occupational therapy students. This year’s cohort organized the program’s first ever Service Learning trip to Guatemala.

                John Damiao, MS, OTR/L, PhD Candidate

                Instructor, Coordinator of OT Admissions and Pre-OT Advisement

                Phone: 845-848-6000
                Email: john.damiao@dc.edu

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                A.A.S., Union County College
                B.S./M.S., OTR, Dominican College

                Academic Biography

                John A Damiao, MS, OTR/L, (PhD Candidate) is a 2009 graduate of the Dominican College Graduate OT program and rejoined Dominican College in June of 2017, as the Coordinator of OT Admissions and Pre-OT Advisement, and instructor. He has brought his skills and experience in assistive technology innovations to the classroom, as a lecturer and research mentor.

                His present research initiatives include assistive technology, smartphone addiction, wheelchair seating and mobility. He also serves as an adaptive equipment design mentor to help bring ideas to life in collaboration with a robotics team. While employed at The Center for Discovery, a mobility device of his invention received several grants to assist with research and development, engineering, commercialization, and marketing.

                Research interests

                • Assistive Technology
                • Seating and Mobility
                • Pediatrics
                • Neuro-rehabilitation

                John’s most notable accomplishments include a role as Lead Developer and Inventor of the IndieGo, a power mobility device awarded a Google Grant of .125M. He was also the creator of a power mobility training program for individuals with severe mobility impairments which also received a 0K support grant. He is the recipient of several awards for his work in promoting assistive technology and was presented the North Country Assistive Technology Distinguished Lectureship at the Adirondack Assistive Technology Conference in 2017.

                Presently, John is a PhD candidate in Health Related Sciences through Virginia Commonwealth University where he is trialing a novel method of designing custom-contoured seating to decrease the incidence of pressure injuries among wheelchair users. Ongoing research work includes studying the impact of smartphone addiction on student performance among young adults, while also serving as instructor and mentor for student research projects, including statistics. Most of these projects have been selected for presentation at the national OT conferences. He also serves as mentor to the adaptive equipment design projects of 3rd year students and has recently brought together these OT students with a high school robotics team to create truly unique devices for individuals with disabilities in the community.

                John is the Coordinator of Admissions and Pre-OT Advisor, while also serving as instructor for Kinesiology in OT, Foundations in OT, Intro to Research, and Research Symposium courses.


                Honoring Leadership Award – Inducted into the Dominican College Alumni Hall of Achievement, April 29, 2017.

                Distinguished Service Award – Awarded by the Speech and Hearing Association of the Hudson Valley (SHAHV) May 12, 2015.

                Peer Reviewed

                Damiao, J., Kean, D. (2016). Upper Extremity Neuro-rehabilitation Through the Use of Power Mobility. Assistive Technology Journal, 28.1, p17-21.

                Non- peer reviewed

                Damiao, J. (July 9, 2013). Going for the Goal: Power soccer as a motivational tool to learn power mobility skills. OT Advance Online Issue

                Damiao, J. (Nov/Dec 2012). Assistive Technology: Improving function through enhancing motivation. Neurodevelopmental Treatment Association Network, Online Issue

                Damiao, J. (Nov. 7, 2011). OT: Not just a cog in the healthcare wheel. OT Advance

                Damiao, J. (July 26, 2010). Assistive Technology and Client Centeredness. OT Practice

                Damiao, J. (March 8, 2010). Visual Perception: It’s not a matter of black and white…or is it? OT Practice


                Damiao, J., Kean, J. (February 23, 2017). IndieGo project. Google Accessibility Summit, San Francisco, Ca.

                Damiao, J. (January 30, 2014). ATIF-05 Wheels to Words: The art of communication through power mobility. Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), Orlando, Fl.

                Damiao, J. (January 30, 2014). ATIF-13 Therapeutic Power Mobility: Improving Mobility, Function, Cognition and Therapeutic Outcomes. Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), Orlando, Fl.

                Damiao, J., Leyden, E., Montarsi, H., Rose, V., Somwaru, B., (2019). Using an Unloaded Shape Capture Method for Wheelchair Seating. New York State Occupational Therapy Association Conference

                Catubig, R., Cudlitz, T., Eliachov, V., Gough, K., McInerney, S., Walters, V., Garbarini, J., Damiao, J. (April, 2019) Enhancing Participation through the use of Assistive Technology for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. American Occupational Therapy Association Conference

                Damiao, J., Clemson, J., Longinott, P., Gradziel, L. (October, 2013). Assistive Technology: Improving function through enhanced motivation. American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine

                Damiao, J. (April 2009). White text on a black background: Improving visual discrimination of school aged children. American Occupational Therapy Association Conference

                    Tara Fettes

                    Adjunct Lecturer

                    Email: tara.fettes@dc.edu

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                    B.S., Dominican College
                    M.S., Dominican College

                        Brenda Mahon

                        Adjunct Lecturer

                        Email: brenda.mahon@dc.edu

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                        B.S., Dominican College
                        M.S., Dominican College
                        OTD, Chatham University

                            Randy Marti

                            Adjunct Lecturer

                            Email: randy.marti@dc.edu

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                            B.A., Rutgers University
                            M.S., Seton Hall University

                                Noreen Martinez

                                Adjunct Lecturer

                                Email: noreen.martinez@dc.edu

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                                B.S., Dominican College
                                M.S., Dominican College

                                    Corinne Piren

                                    Adjunct Lecturer

                                    Email: corinne.piren@dc.edu

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                                    B.S., Dominican College
                                    M.S., Dominican College

                                        Michael A. Pizzi, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

                                        Associate Professor

                                        Phone: (845) 848-6037
                                        Email: michael.pizzi@dc.edu

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                                        B.S., Elizabethtown College
                                        M.S., Towson University
                                        Ph.D., The Union Institute and University
                                        FAOTA, Fellow American Occupational Therapy Association

                                        Academic Biography:

                                        Dr. Pizzi was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Occupational Therapy and was one of the youngest therapists to have the honor of becoming a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (FAOTA), given to those who demonstrate scholarship, leadership and service to the profession. He was recently guest editor of the Special Issue on Childhood Obesity and the Special Issue on Health, Well-Being and Quality of Life for the American Journal of Occupational Therapy.

                                        Dr. Pizzi teaches OT theory and practice, health and wellness, community-based practice and Maturity courses. He developed the first childhood obesity occupation and client-centered assessment which has been utilized nationally and is undergoing psychometric testing and is being used in research in the US and Israel. He has also developed the Pizzi Health and Wellness Assessment (PHWA) and the Pizzi healthy Weight Management Assessment (PHWMA) which have been utilized in several research studies and was presented at AOTA 2014-18. Besides writing and research, in 2014, Dr. Pizzi was selected for the Executive Board of the Leaders and Legacies Society (LLS) Steering Committee. He has published many peer reviewed journal articles and chapters on topics including HIV rehabilitation, hospice, entrepreneurship, and childhood obesity and was a forerunner in these areas. There are over 100 lectures, workshops and keynote addresses focusing on advancing occupational therapy practice in the area of health and well-being to his credit. Dr. Pizzi co-edited the OT textbook “Occupational Therapy in the Promotion of Health and Wellness” which is used internationally. He believes in developing a spirited and collaborative teaching environment where students can actively learn, utilize their creativity, and apply knowledge for the betterment of society. Dr. Pizzi takes great pride in mentoring future clinical scholars. He currently serves as a reviewer of the American and Australian OT journals, is a reviewer for OT in Health Care and on the editorial board of the International Journal of Occupational Therapy.

                                        Research summary:

                                        Current research is focused on quality of life, health and wellness, and occupational participation in the areas of childhood obesity and the use of the performing arts for children with disabilities. Other interests include exploring the impact of occupational deprivation on marginalized people and the poor in our society and health disparities.

                                        Select Publications

                                        Scaffa, M.E., Reitz, S.M. and Pizzi, M. A.(2010). Occupational therapy in the promotion of health and wellness. Philadelphia: FA Davis [Co-editor]

                                        Chapters within the book written or co-written by Michael Pizzi:

                                        • Occupational therapy conceptual models for health promotion practice
                                        • Quality of life and health promotion
                                        • Evaluation principles in health promotion practice
                                        • Assessments for health promotion practice
                                        • Weight management and obesity reduction
                                        • Promoting sexual health: An occupational perspective
                                        • Promoting mental health and emotional well-being
                                        • Health promotion for people with disabilities
                                        • Promoting health and occupational participation with caregivers
                                        • Promoting successful aging through occupation
                                        • Promoting wellness in end-of-life care

                                        Pizzi, M. (2013) Editorial. Special issue on obesity and the role of occupational therapy. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 27(2):75–77, 2013

                                        Pizzi, M. (2013). Obesity, health and quality of life: A conversation to further
                                        the vision in occupational therapy, Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 27(2), 78-83.

                                        Pizzi, M. & Vroman, K.E. (2013). Childhood obesity: Effects on children’s
                                        participation, mental health, and psychosocial development, Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 27(2), 99-112.

                                        Pizzi, M. (2013)(Guest editor) Special issue on childhood obesity: Occupational
                                        Therapy in Health Care, 27(2). Articles Dr. Pizzi reviewed and edited with another reviewers and the journal editor:

                                        • A Multi-Tiered Approach to Addressing the Mental Health Issues Surrounding Obesity in Children and Youth
                                        • Culturally Competent Interventions to Address Obesity Among African American and Latino Children and Youth
                                        • Cross-Border Contributions to Obesity Research and Interventions: A Review of Canadian and American Occupational Therapy Contributions
                                        • Service Learning in a Pediatric Weight Management Program to Address Childhood Obesity
                                        • Effects of an Occupation-Based Obesity Prevention Program for Children at Risk

                                        Pizzi, M. A. (2014). Blended Learning Pedagogy: The Time is Now!
                                        Occupational therapy in health care, 28(3), 333-338.

                                        Pizzi, M. A. & Richards, L.G. (2017). Promoting health, well-being and quality of life in occupational therapy: A commitment to a paradigm shift for the next 100 years. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 71(4), 7104170010p1-7104170010p5

                                        Pizzi, M., Reitz, S.M. & Scaffa, M.E.. (2018). Wellness and health promotion for people with physical disabilities. In H. Pendleton and W. Schultz-Krohn (Eds), Pedretti’s Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction, 8th Edition, Elsevier: St. Louis, MO, pp. 58-70. (CH)

                                        Pizzi, M. & Teaford, G. (2018). HIV and AIDS. In H. Pendleton and W. Schultz-Krohn (Eds.), Pedretti’s Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction, 8th Edition. Elsevier: St. Louis, MO, 1167-1183.

                                        Pizzi, M. A. (2018). Health promotion and wellness. In R. DiZazzo-Miller & F. D. Pociask (Eds.), Preparing for the OT National Board Exam: 45 Days and Counting (2nd ed., pp. 557-564). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

                                        Pizzi, M. (2018). Fieldwork at the convent. OT Practice, February 5, pp. 15-17.

                                        Serwe, K., Walmsley, A., & Pizzi, M.A. (in press). Reliability and Responsiveness of the Pizzi Health and Wellness Assessment”. Annals of International Occupational Therapy.

                                        Other interests

                                        Dr. Pizzi is also an Equity musical theatre performer, and in his spare time creates musical theatre events for charity primarily in the Pinehurst NC area where he has a home. He is the creator of The Wellsongs Project, is developing a CD of those songs with Broadway singers and is Executive Producing a documentary about the project (www.touchinghumanityinc.org).  He also loves to play tennis, loves the beach (having grown up in Toms River NJ!), is addicted to cable TV and is a political news junkie.

                                            Pietra Rivera


                                            Email: pietra.rivera@dc.edu

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                                            B.S., Dominican College
                                            M.S., Dominican College

                                                Mary Walsh Roche, MS, OTR/L, LMT, RYT

                                                Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Instructor

                                                Phone: (845) 848-6038
                                                Email: mary.walshroche@dc.edu

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                                                A.O.S., Swedish Institute
                                                B.A., Iona College
                                                M.S., Columbia University

                                                Academic Biography

                                                Mary Walsh Roche started as the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for the Occupational Therapy Program at Dominican College in the summer of 2016. Mary’s educational background includes a B.A. in English from Iona College, in New Rochelle, NY. She received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Columbia University. After beginning her career as an occupational therapist, Mary studied at the Swedish Institute in New York City, where she received an A.O.S. in massage therapy. Mary is currently a doctoral student in the Medical Humanities Program at Drew University working on her dissertation which focuses on reflective writing in health professions education.

                                                Mary is a graduate of the first cohort of the Integrative Health Leadership Program at Duke Integrative Medicine. She is a graduate of the Ohashi Institute where she received a certificate in advanced shiatsu studies. She is trained in Peggy Huddleston’s Prepare for Surgery: Heal Faster program and is an alumna of the Center for Mind Body Medicine’s (CMBM) Advanced Training program. She completed the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Training Program and is a certified yoga teacher. She is a Reiki Master Level Teacher, a Tai Chi Easy Practice Leader, and a Certified Infant Massage Instructor.

                                                Mary has over twenty years of experience as an occupational therapist in a variety of practice settings. She was as an occupational therapist with the NYC Department of Education for eight years. There she participated in the Senior Instructional Therapist Training Program teaching workshops on seating and positioning and adaptive equipment to therapists in the school system. During that time Mary was also involved in performing home accessibility evaluations and recommending environmental modifications for clients in the community. In 2007 she transitioned to work in adult inpatient rehabilitation at Bellevue Hospital where she worked on the orthopedic and neurological units. She also worked in outpatient traumatic brain injury rehabilitation at the James J. Peters Bronx VA Hospital and on the inpatient geriatric psychiatry unit St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. From 2012-2015 Mary served as the Westchester Rockland District Chair for the New York State Occupational Therapy Association.

                                                Prior to working at Dominican College, Mary was an Integrative Health Specialist with the NYU Department of Integrative Health Programs at Rusk Rehabilitation where she designed and implemented programs to help pediatric and adult patients, their families, caregivers, and staff ease pain, anxiety and stress through integrative health modalities such as reiki, guided imagery, adaptive yoga, and meditation.

                                                In 2018, Mary served as the Project Scholar for the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Literature in Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare program where she led a series of Literature and Medicine Sessions for first and second year medical students in the Arbor Vitae Literary Society at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Mary is currently the Director of the Bronxville Senior Citizens where she develops wellness and social programs for active community dwelling older adults.

                                                At Dominican Mary coordinates all Level I and Level II fieldwork placements and teaches the Introduction to Occupational Therapy and the Level I Fieldwork Seminar courses. Mary enjoys introducing students to the core tenets of the profession as well as its history and evolution. Mary also enjoys working with community partners to develop clinical affiliations and fieldwork experiences for students in traditional as well as emerging areas of practice.

                                                Research interests

                                                • Integrative health and wellness
                                                • Non-pharmacologic methods of pain management

                                                Narrative medicine and ethics

                                                Rust, N. & Walsh Roche, M. (June 2018). True Partners: The Dominican Charism and Occupational Therapy Education and Practice. 15th Biennial Dominican Colloquium, Providence, RI.

                                                Lopes, A., Palase, N., Rigney, C., Wolosin, S., Garbarini, J., & Walsh Roche, M. (May 2018). The Effect of Mindfulness Practice on Graduate Occupational Therapy Students Perceived Stress and Well-being. International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health (ICIMH), Baltimore, MD.

                                                Walsh Roche, M. (April 2018). Mindfulness Practices and Graduate Occupational Therapy Students Perceived Stress and Well-being. Drew University Medical Humanities Colloquium, Madison, NJ.

                                                Lopes, A., Palase, N., Rigney, C., Wolosin, S., Garbarini, J., & Walsh Roche, M. (March 2018). The Effect of Mindfulness Practice on Graduate Occupational Therapy Students Perceived Stress and Well-being. Drew University Medical Humanities Symposium, Madison, NJ.

                                                Walsh, M., DeSio, T., Abatemarco, J. & Tafurt, M. (May 2016). Integrative Occupational Therapy: Building a Pediatric Rehabilitation Family Integrative Health Program. International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health (ICIMH), Las Vegas, NV.

                                                Walsh, M., Eberhardt, A., Ingraham, M. & Shrestha, D. (May 2016). Mindfulness and Imagination: The Creation of a Pediatric Rehabilitation Adaptive Yoga Program. International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health (ICIMH), Las Vegas, NV.

                                                Walsh, M., Eberhardt, A., Ingraham, M. &Shrestha, D. (November 2015). Mindfulness and Imagination: The Creation of a Pediatric Rehabilitation Adaptive Yoga Program. New York State Occupational Therapy Association Conference, White Plains, NY.

                                                Walsh, M. (November 2014). Mind Body Skills and Occupational Therapy Practice. New York State Occupational Therapy Association Conference, Albany, NY.

                                                Walsh, M. & Siminovich-Blok, B. (October 2014). The Practice of a Modified Form of the Ignatian Examen by Healthcare Workers. International Symposium of Contemplative Studies, Boston. MA.

                                                Walsh, M., Lesser, S. & LaSorse A. (November 2005). Adaptive Environments for Children. United Cerebral Palsy of New York City Techworks Expo, Brooklyn, NY.

                                                Professional affiliations and activities

                                                Member of the American Occupational Association
                                                Member of the New York State Occupational Therapy Association
                                                Member of the American Massage Therapy Association
                                                Member of the Metropolitan Occupational Therapy Education Council (MOTEC)

                                                Other interests

                                                Cooking, dancing, road trips, painting

                                                    Bonnie Ross


                                                    Email: bonnie.ross@dc.edu 

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                                                    A.A.S., Orange County Community College
                                                    B.A., Wagner College
                                                    B.S./M.S., Dominican College

                                                        Nadia Rust, OTD

                                                        Assistant Professor

                                                        Phone: (845) 848-6033
                                                        Email: nadia.rust@dc.edu

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                                                        B.OT., University of Kwazulu-Natal
                                                        O.T.D., Chatham University

                                                        Academic Biography

                                                        Dr. Rust’s educational background includes Bachelors in Occupational Therapy from the University of Durban Westville, South Africa. She received a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Chatham University. Her doctorate capstone examined the impact of occupational therapy training and consultation on teachers’ competence in providing pre-writing instruction.

                                                        Dr. Rust is certified in Sensory Integration and Listening Therapy. Dr. Rust has also served as an independent evaluator in a NIH funded research study examining the efficacy of sensory integration intervention in autism. She has over 15 years of managerial and clinical supervisory experience. Dr. Rust manages the occupational therapy department for The Bronx McCarton Early Intervention Center. Dr. Rust is a full time faculty member at Dominican College since October 2017.

                                                        In the first year of the occupational therapy program, students in Dr. Rust’s classes are involved in several community-based projects underscoring the connection between the Dominican Charism and occupational therapy practice. In Tools of Practice class students visit Adaptive Design in New York City and learn how to create low or no cost adaptations for people with disabilities. The 2019 cohort has completed several task and activity analysis for the Poughkeepsie Chapter of Days for Girls. Days for Girls International empowers women and girls around the globe providing sustainable feminine hygiene solutions and health education.

                                                        In their final trimester of year-one students complete a research project in their own community increasing their awareness of public and private community resources. Second year student’s working with Dr. Rust on a research study that examined the efficacy of video and web-based games to increase cultural skill, cultural knowledge, and cultural awareness has been accepted as a poster presentation at the national conference in Boston 2020.

                                                        Research interests

                                                        • Pediatrics
                                                        • Sensory Integration and related topics
                                                        • Cultural diversity

                                                        Professional affiliations and activities

                                                        • Member of the American Occupational Association
                                                        • Member of the Sensory Integration Special Interest Section
                                                        • Member of the World Health Federation

                                                        Other interests

                                                        • Travel, theatre, cooking

                                                            Diane Weiss

                                                            Adjunct Lecturer

                                                            Email: diane.weiss@dc.edu

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                                                            B.S., University of Western Ontario
                                                            M.A., Fairleigh Dickinson University
                                                            FAOTA, Fellow American Occupational Therapy Association