Brittni Winslow

Brittni Winslow, MS, OTR/L

Executive Director

Part of the Emerge Family since 2012

Brittni Winslow received her master’s in occupational therapy from East Carolina University in 2011. She decided she wanted to become an occupational therapist while in high school and gained experience within pediatrics while working as a developmental therapist and volunteering at the Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center. Brittni has experience working with children having a variety of diagnoses such as Down Syndrome, Autism, Asperger’s, ADD/ADHD, developmental delays and Sensory Processing Disorders. She has a strong background in handwriting and fine motor skill development and published a thesis titled “The Effects of the Fine Motor and Early Handwriting Curriculum on the Fine Motor Skills of Preschool Aged Children.” Brittni has completed advanced sensory training through the Sensory Integration Certification Program, as well as trainings focused on reflex integration, the Child Adult Relationship Enhancement (CARE) approach, DIR/Floortime, and the SOS Approach to Feeding. Brittni became a co-owner of Emerge in January of 2018. Outside of work, Brittni enjoys exercising, traveling, and spending time with her husband, Clint, daughters, Brooklyn, Eleanor, and Molly, and dog, Bailey.

Brittni Winslow
Brooke Brees

Brooke Brees, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Clinical Director

Part of the Emerge Family since 2013

Brooke is a Michigan native who moved to North Carolina in August 2012. After falling in love with the field of occupational therapy during her years as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, she received her master’s degree in occupational therapy at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan in August 2012. Prior to being a part of the Emerge family, Brooke worked in early intervention in Wake County where she developed skills working with children from birth to age 3. Brooke joined the Emerge team in June 2013. It is her passion to work with children with special needs and sensory processing difficulties and their families in order to help each child become as successful in their daily lives as possible. Brooke is certified in Interactive Metronome, has been trained in the Zones of Regulation, and has attended numerous courses regarding sensory processing. She loves helping children with social skill development and has co-lead the group Social Sleuths since the Fall of 2014. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outside, cooking, and exploring the Raleigh/Durham area with her husband, Alex, and son, Edison.

Kelly Jones

Kelly Goad, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Clinical Manager – Durham

Part of the Emerge Family since 2010

Kelly began working at Emerge Pediatric Therapy in May 2010. Kelly graduated from the University of Florida with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2007. She has specialty training in PROMPT (Intro and Bridging trained), Visualizing and Verbalizing, LiPS, DIR/Floortime, Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol, PECS, Social Thinking, Zones of Regulation, Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), Snap + Core First, and the S.O.S. Approach to Feeding. By working closely with parents and other caregivers, Kelly strives to create an environment in which children’s speech and language skills are being stimulated and supported in the most effective way. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys being outdoors and exploring events and food around the Triangle. Kelly and her husband live in Durham with their dog.

Kelly Jones

Danielle Carey, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist and Orofacial Myologist

Clinical Manager – Cary

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Danielle relocated back to North Carolina from Georgia in 2020.  She completed her undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at East Carolina University in 2010 and then transitioned to Old Dominion University to complete her graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2012. Prior to joining Emerge,  Danielle worked at a private practice treating babies through adults. Before joining the pediatric setting, Danielle spent 3 years in subacute rehab centers and hospitals treating adults.  Danielle has treated a wide variety of patients, requiring: articulation, apraxia, feeding, fluency, orofacial myofunctional disorders, and receptive/expressive language intervention. She has specialty training in orofacial myofunctional disorders, TOTS: Tethered Oral Tissues Specialty Training, Basic DIR/Floortime Certification, Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol, Social Thinking, Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), and the S.O.S. Approach to Feeding. She is passionate about providing children without a voice a means to communicate via AAC devices and is familiar with LAMP and Snap +Core.  Danielle earned the ACE (Award for Continuing Education) in December 2019 and 2020. Outside of work, Danielle enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, son, and 2 dogs! She loves the beach, enjoys any outdoor activity, reading, horseback riding, and spending time with friends!

Dr. Anne Wolfe, PT, DPT

Physical Therapist

Clinical Manager – 3rd Location coming Fall 2021!

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Anne received her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Drexel University in 2012. During graduate school she developed a love of pediatric therapy after completing a clinical rotation in acute care pediatrics at University of Virginia Hospital and working as a nanny for a young girl with Cerebral Palsy. After graduation Anne worked in acute care pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital which included training in the Neonatal ICU and Pediatric ICU. Anne also worked abroad in Stuttgart, Germany for 2 years in a German clinic serving Tricare patients including adults and children who were stationed in the area. Her husbands military career brought them back to the US to Colorado where Anne worked in a pediatric outpatient clinic for 4 years. Anne has experience working with patients of all ages from 30 weeks gestational age into young adulthood. She has experience with many diagnoses including Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, torticollis, plagiocephaly, developmental delay, Autism, Sensory Processing, and orthopedic conditions. Anne has completed courses in torticollis and plagiocephaly treatment, infant positioning and handling, treatment for infants in the NICU and Cardiac ICU, DIR/Floortime approach, pediatric gait assessment, sensory processing disorder, and appropriate prescription of lower extremity orthotics and cranial remodeling orthoses. She also has experience using the Schroth method for scoliosis treatment taught to her by her German colleagues. In her free time Anne enjoys baking, traveling, running and hiking with her husband, and son.

Anna Housman

Anna Housman, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist and Orofacial Myologist

Director of Marketing and PR

Part of the Emerge Family since 2015

Anna is a North Carolina native, originally from Winston-Salem. From a young age she always knew she wanted to work with children. During her junior year of high school her mother mentioned some of the job openings posted at the local hospital for speech-language pathologists. After reading the job descriptions, Anna knew there was no other profession for her. She completed her undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at UNC-Greensboro in 2011 before moving on to complete her graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013. Prior to joining Emerge, Anna worked in both Durham and Wake County Public Schools with students ranging from kindergartner to high school in mainstream and self-contained classrooms. During this time she worked largely with, and discovered her passion for, working with children on the Autism Spectrum. She has experience working with children with varying intellectual disabilities, stuttering, articulation and expressive and receptive language delays and disorders. Anna has attended conferences and received training in PROMPT, Visualizing and Verbalizing, DIR/Floortime, The Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol, The Zones of Regulation, Interventions for Word Retrieval, Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing program for reading, spelling and speech (LiPS), the SOS Approach to Feeding, and in orofacial myofunctional disorders. She is familiar with using AAC programs such as LAMP and Snap+Core.   One of Anna’s favorite parts about working at Emerge is the collaboration that happens across disciplines.  Over the years Anna has developed a strong interest in and love for incorporating dynamic sensory information into her sessions. 2019 Anna became an affiliate clinical instructor for the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – giving a lecture titled “Inter-Professional Collaboration and a Sensory Approach to Speech-Language Therapy.”  In her free time Anna enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.  She enjoys sewing, knitting, reading, yoga, and working with her husband on renovations to their historic home.

Aarthy Sundar, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist 

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Aarthy is an Indian-American speech-language pathologist who completed her undergraduate degree at The University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘Em Horns!), and received her Master of Science degree from The Callier Center, at The University of Texas at Dallas in 2018. She has a broad range of clinical training and experience, including working in adult acute care hospitals, NICU, adult inpatient rehabilitation, adult outpatient rehabilitation, and pediatric early intervention in home health. She has experience in voice diagnostics and therapy, dysphagia with trach/vent management, motor speech therapy, language therapy, and various cognitive communication interventions. She has training in the MBSImp protocol for dysphagia diagnostics, and is passionate about evaluating and treating feeding/swallowing disorders in medically fragile populations. Aarthy has also received introductory level training in the Early Start Denver Model for therapy, and has experience working with children on the Autism spectrum, expressive/receptive language delays, apraxia of speech, developmental delays, social communication disorders, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome. She is so excited to join the Emerge team to provide individualized care focussed on maximizing function and independence, for each child and family! Aside from being an SLP, Aarthy is also trained in Bharathanatyam (a classical Indian dance form), and enjoys choreographing and performing on stage. She lives with her husband and cat, Beau, and loves outdoor adventures and cooking delicious vegan food!

Alexa Whitt, MOT, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2018

Alexa is an occupational therapist who lives in Apex, NC. She completed her Master’s in Occupational Therapy (MOT) at Worcester State University in 2017 and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Bridgewater State University in 2013. Before joining the team at Emerge in 2018, Alexa previously worked as a pediatric occupational therapist in schools, day cares, and homes. In her fieldwork rotations, Alexa gained experience treating with adults in acute psychiatric and rehabilitation settings. Alexa has treated children with a variety of disorders including autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, psychiatric disorders, neuromotor conditions, and behavioral difficulties. She has advanced training in the areas of handwriting development, sensory processing, picky eating and problem feeding, early childhood development, seating and positioning, yoga for children, and child/adolescent trauma. Additionally, Alexa completed formal research projects in the areas of health and wellness management, child development, sensory integration, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).  During her childhood, Alexa lived in the tropics of Singapore, so she was always in the pool trying to stay cool! She has been a swimmer her whole life and she became a swim instructor in graduate school. These days, Alexa enjoys using the water as a therapeutic modality to support children in achieving their occupational therapy goals. She has specialized training in the area of pediatric aquatic therapy and she developed Emerge’s Aquatic Therapy program. Alexa is passionate about providing holistic, individualized therapy to children in need. In her free time she enjoys yoga, swimming, paddle boarding, and spending time with her husband and their dog, Boomer!

Andrew Klein

Amy Munekata, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS

Speech-Language Pathologist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2019

Amy grew up in California and moved to North Carolina in 2005. She attended school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she got her Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic Linguistics and her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2017. Amy started working at Emerge in 2019. She has clinical experience working with children and adults with a wide variety of disorders including articulation and language delays, autism spectrum disorder, Down Syndrome, Angelman syndrome, fluency disorders, craniofacial disorders, feeding and swallowing disorders, voice disorders, aphasia, dysarthria, executive functioning disorders (including memory and attention), and brain injuries. Amy is a certified brain injury specialist through the Brain Injury Association of America and has received formal training in DIR/Floortime, Social Thinking, Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), the S.O.S Approach to Feeding (including specialty training in children with autism), and speech generating devices from PRC-Saltillo and TobiiDynavox. Amy uses her clinical knowledge in conjunction with her patient’s needs to create an individualized plan of care and produce the best therapy outcomes. Outside of work, Amy enjoys hiking with her dog, traveling, baking, and swimming.

Andrew Klein
Andrew Klein

Andrew Klein, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2015

Andrew received his inspiration to become an Occupational Therapist while participating in a 10-month volunteer project in Tel Aviv, Israel. During that time, he assisted children with cerebral palsy in outdoor athletics and mobility programs, and discovered a passion for working with children with special needs. He graduated with his Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy from Columbia University, and spent the first 5 years of his career working as a pediatric OT in New York City.  He has been working at Emerge since moving to North Carolina in 2015.  Andrew is an Expert Training Leader in DIRFloortime ®, and believes that each child’s individual differences can serve as their greatest strengths. Andrew also supports childhood development and sensory processing utilizing programs and techniques in which he is well trained, including Therapeutic Listening®, Handwriting Without Tears®, The Wilbarger Therapressure Protocol (brushing), The Zones of Regulation®, and Interactive Metronome®.  In his free time, Andrew enjoys playing guitar, fencing, exploring North Carolina with his wife, Emma, and playing with his two children, Nora and Eliana.

Andrew Klein

Bethany Liscovitz, MOT, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Bethany graduated from West Virginia University in 2014 with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. She has since worked in a variety of pediatric settings including clinics, schools, specialized classrooms (including those for children with medical needs, autism, and social-emotional challenges), as well as homes. She has experience working with toddlers to teenagers and enjoys learning the unique strengths and needs of all of her clients. Bethany has extended training in Ayres Sensory Integration. She has also participated in research and training focused on sensory integration, and earned a Certificate in Ayres Sensory Integration in 2019. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of sensory processing with families and the community, and she has presented an introductory lecture on Sensory Integration to the OT students at West Virginia University. Bethany joined Emerge in 2021 and is excited to become an active part of the Emerge therapy team. In her free time, Bethany enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and skiing with her husband.

Andrew Klein
Headshot of Ciara McCready

Ciara McCready, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Ciara is a Massachusetts native who recently relocated to the Raleigh area. She received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and Bachelor of Science from Springfield College. Before joining the Emerge team, Ciara gained experience as a pediatric occupational therapist working with children with autism and behavioral challenges. Ciara has worked with a variety of pediatric clients with diagnosis including autism, Down’s Syndrome, sensory processing disorder, traumatic brain injury, developmental delays, and ADHD. Through her fieldwork experience, Ciara obtained extensive training in sensory processing, picky eating, and social skills development. Ciara is passionate about utilizing a play-based approach to assist children and their families in developing the child’s functional skill level and confidence in everyday activities. In her free time, Ciara enjoys exploring new places, hiking with her dog, Ellie, cooking, running, and spending time outdoors.

toddler girls in a blue dress rides a purple bike
Headshot of Ciara McCready

Clara Chanda, PT, DPT

Physical Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Clara grew up in New Jersey and Nebraska before heading to the Carolinas for school. She attended the University of South Carolina where she got a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with minors in Spanish and Psychology. She went on to receive her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Duke University and graduated in May of 2019. Her final clinical gave her a wide-breadth of experience and training with children 0-18 years of age in the acute and intensive care settings, including the PICU and NICU. After graduating from Duke, she worked in Early Intervention around the Triangle where she provided PT to children from birth to three years old. She has a variety of experience working with children with developmental delays, sensory processing disorder, Autism, prematurity, Down Syndrome, torticollis, neurological disorders, genetic and congenital conditions, myopathies, etc. Clara strives to provide therapeutic care and education to children and their families. She is passionate about engaging patients through play while challenging balance, coordination, motor control, and strength. She is dedicated to walking alongside children as they strive to achieve functional goals.

toddler girls in a blue dress rides a purple bike
Headshot of Erin Liuzzo

Erin Liuzzo, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Erin is a North Carolina native, who grew up in Cary. She spent her middle school and high school years babysitting and knew she wanted a career that involved working with children. While in her undergrad at Virginia Tech, Erin learned about Occupational Therapy and after shadowing at a pediatric Occupational Therapy clinic the summer of her freshman year she knew that she wanted to pursue it as a career. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2011 with a degree in Human Development, Erin attended Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, Virginia where she received her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2013. Prior to joining Emerge, Erin worked at a pediatric outpatient clinic for 7 years and provided services in the clinic, in homes through Early Intervention, and in the public school system. She has experience working with clients of all ages from infant to young adult. Erin has experience with many diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, Feeding Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Delay, and complex medical backgrounds. She has been trained in Handwriting Without Tears, Practical Sense in Sensory Integration (Part 1, 2, and 3), reflex integration, SOS Approach to Feeding, and has attended numerous courses in the areas of Sensory Integration, visual perceptual skills, neuromuscular disorders, and functional vision. In her free time, Erin likes to spend time with family, reading, going to the beach, and watching college sports (Go HOKIES!!).

baby smiling at the camera while crawling on hands and knees

Jackelyn Rockwood, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2019

Jackelyn is a Pennsylvania native. She developed a passion for OT after receiving services herself at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Jackelyn graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and earned her Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) in 2017. During her time at Pitt, Jackelyn worked at the Infant Communication Lab completing Autism research and worked as a one to one for a 5 year old with Autism and a history of trauma. Having worked in hospital, outpatient, and home health settings, Jackelyn strives to improve the quality of life for each child and family. She has experience working with children with a variety of disorders including Autism, sensory processing disorder, feeding concerns, ADHD, learning disabilities, pediatric stroke and traumatic brain injury, Down Syndrome, and behavioral difficulties. Jackelyn has specialized training in the Learning Without Tears Program, DIR/ Floortime Method, Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding (SOS) with a special certificate in Autism, CAN EAT approach to feeding, Pediatric Aquatic Therapy, and numerous courses focusing on sensory processing/development of sensory diets. She completed infant and toddler courses focusing on infant positioning and handling using the Neurodevelopmental Treatment Approach, and treatment for children with plagiocephaly and torticollis. Jackelyn has experience working with the Zones of Regulation, Alert Program, and the Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique. In her spare time, Jackelyn enjoys baking, hiking, traveling, and writing calligraphy.

Jaclyn Jewett

Jaclyn Jewett, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Clinical Education Coordinator and Therapeutic Group Coordinator

Part of the Emerge Family since 2015

Jaclyn was born and raised in Ohio, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Walsh University in 2012. Jaclyn then continued on to complete her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at Milligan College, in Tennessee. During this time, Jaclyn had the opportunity to work with children with a variety of developmental disorders in the school and outpatient settings. Jaclyn completed her graduate level pediatric clinical rotation at Pediatric Therapy Network, a sensory clinic in Torrance, California. While there, Jaclyn was able to gain experience working with children with sensory processing disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Intellectual Disabilities, and many others. She has now completed formal trainings in the Zones of Regulation curriculum, Pediatric Yoga for OT, Child Adult Relationship Enhancement, the Stanley Greenspan Floortime Professional Course, and many others related to sensory processing and integration. Outside of work, Jaclyn enjoy almost all outdoor activities, especially hiking and biking, singing, playing volleyball, and learning new things!

Jaclyn Jewett
Speech Therapist, Kayla Thomas

Kayla Thomas, MS, CF-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Kayla was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Her love of soccer is what initially brought her to play soccer in college in North Carolina, but her introduction to the wonderful field of speech-language pathology is what convinced her to stay. She attended Western Carolina University where she got a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Psychology. She then went on to receive her Master’s of Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which allowed her the opportunity to complete her final clinical placement as a graduate clinician at Emerge! Kayla has had clinical experience working with children with ASD, intellectual disabilities, speech-sound disorders, expressive/receptive language delays, and other developmental delays and disorders. Additionally, Kayla has received formal training in Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), and specialized training to serve children with Autism Spectrum Disorder with high intensity needs and their families. Kayla is excited to return to Emerge as a therapist! To be able to play a vital role in giving a voice to little ones to communicate with their loved ones is why she quickly fell in love with speech-language pathology. Kayla enjoys working with children because it allows her to engage in fun therapeutic activities through play while working towards accomplishing goals that are important to the child and their families. Outside of work, Kayla enjoys spending time with her family, exercising, and traveling!

Andrew Klein

Kelsey Zukowski, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Kelsey is a New Hampshire native who previously lived in the Triangle and is so excited to be back! She received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of New Hampshire. After graduate school, she was a LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) fellow, where she gained interdisciplinary training in policy, research, clinical field work, and leadership focused on improving the health of children with disabilities. Before joining the Emerge team, Kelsey worked in both outpatient pediatric and early intervention settings. She has experience working with children from birth to young adult, and has experience with many diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Down Syndrome, sensory processing disorder, genetic conditions, and developmental delays. Kelsey finds parent education and family support to be important and meaningful components of occupational therapy. She has been trained in Therapeutic Listening, and has taken various courses in the areas of sensory integration, reflex integration, executive functioning, visual motor and perceptual skills, fine motor skills, and feeding. Outside of work, Kelsey enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, watching college basketball, and reading.

Andrew Klein

Laura Strenk, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Clinical Education Coordinator and Therapeutic Group Coordinator

Part of the Emerge Family since 2018

Laura grew up in North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill for both her undergraduate and graduate education. Laura graduated with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2018 and accepted a position with Emerge Pediatric Therapy beginning in June 2018. Laura has had clinical experience working with children with craniofacial disorders, traumatic brain injury, fluency disorders, ASD, intellectual disability, speech-sound disorders, expressive/receptive language delays, and other developmental delays and disorders. Additionally, Laura has received formal training in PROMPT, Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol, DIR/Floortime, Affect-Based Language Curriculum, Zones of Regulation, Social Thinking, Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking, and CARE. Laura has also attended several trainings to improve competency in and implementation of the following AAC devices/softwares: Snap+Core, Unity, and Accent. Laura enjoys working with children because it allows her to be flexible and creative when designing goals and therapy activities. Laura is highly committed to providing children from diverse backgrounds and with a wide range of communication disorders access to the most current and effective evidence-based practices. In her free time, Laura enjoys traveling, baking, reading, and spending time with both her two cats (Ashe and Lexi) and her husband.

Lauren McCoy

Lauren McCoy, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2016

Lauren grew up living in many different states, but now considers North Carolina to be home. She received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from East Carolina University, where she was first introduced to Emerge as a student completing her clinical rotation here. After graduating, Lauren began her career as a pediatric occupational therapist in Wake County Public Schools and was excited to build on that experience when she rejoined the Emerge team as a therapist. She has always enjoyed working with children and was inspired to become an occupational therapist by her mom, who is also an OT. Lauren enjoys helping clients develop self confidence and motor skills to participate in daily activities, become more comfortable with expressing and managing their emotions, and supporting social skill development through play. Since working at Emerge, she has participated in formal training courses in The Stanley Greenspan Floortime Approach, motivational interviewing, childhood anxiety, executive function skills, therapeutic interventions for infants in the NICU, infant positioning using tummy time, and treating children with torticollis and plagiocephaly. Outside of work, Lauren enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her husband and their dog, Sadie.

Maddy Strauss, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Maddy is a North Carolina native, originally from Greensboro.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2016 prior to receiving a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2018. Maddy has had clinical pediatric experience as an occupational therapist in outpatient, school, camp, and home settings. She has worked with a variety of pediatric diagnoses including ADHD, autism, cerebral palsy, coordination impairments, developmental delays, and sensory processing disorder. She has experience utilizing the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol, Zones of Regulation, Handwriting Without Tears, and strategies to improve dysgraphia and graphomotor deficits. Maddy’s favorite thing about occupational therapy is having the opportunity to broaden a child’s functional skills through play. In her free time, she enjoys rock-climbing, bike-riding, baking, and playing with her dog, Otter.

Madison Simpson, MS, CF-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Madison is a North Carolina native and a second generation speech-language pathologist who comes from a long line of educators, therapists, and early childhood practitioners. She knew from an early age that working with children was her life’s calling! Madison completed her undergraduate degree at Meredith College where she double majored in psychology and child development. During her time there, she traveled abroad in Denmark and Turkey, studying childrens education in a multicultural context and the neuroscience of social development. Madison completed her Master’s of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology at UNC-Chapel Hill where she was a recipient of a grant to prepare clinicians to serve children with autism with high intensity needs and their families. She also received specialized training in early learning foundations through the UNC TEACCH Autism Program. In her previous clinical experiences, Madison had opportunities to support children in school, clinic, and telepractice settings, working closely with related disciplines and collaborating with caregivers. Through these settings, she gained experience in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), core vocabulary, social thinking strategies, and a wide range of articulation and language therapy techniques. She has worked with children with ASD, Down syndrome, articulation/phonological disorders, fluency disorders, developmental delays, and sensory processing differences. Madison has a passion for family-centered and play-based approaches to therapy and is thrilled to join the Emerge team! In her spare time, Madison enjoys spending time with her husband and her very spoiled cat, Hammy, as well as reading and swimming. She is looking forward to collaborating with families and advocating for each child in support of their individual needs.  

Megan Ford, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Megan moved to the Triangle area from the mountains of Western North Carolina. She attended UNC Chapel Hill for undergraduate school, where she studied Psychology, Neuroscience, and Education. She went on to receive her Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from UNC Chapel Hill. Megan was first introduced to OT when she attended an inclusion-based summer camp at age 5, where she made friends who have diverse abilities. She has learned and worked in outpatient pediatric clinics, early intervention, summer camps, and inpatient settings including Acute Care and Inpatient Psychiatry prior to joining the Emerge team. She has experience working with children with various diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, and mental health difficulties. She has received training in the Zones of Regulation, sensory processing/sensory diet development, Social Thinking, the TEACCH® curriculum, and motivational interviewing. Megan’s favorite part of OT is creating a positive, playful environment that supports kids in developing their functional skills and confidence. In her free time, Megan enjoys fly fishing, playing guitar, knitting, and going on hikes with her husband and her dog, Remi.

Megan Nardo, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Megan is a Cuban-American speech-language pathologist from Miami, FL. Megan graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida where she studied Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Disability Studies. She went on to receive her Master of Science degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Megan has both evaluated and treated children and adults in both English and Spanish targeting language disorders, articulation disorders and ADD/ADHD. She also has extensive experience with ASD, intellectual disabilities, sensory processing disorder, traumatic brain injury, cognitive-linguistic disorders, and feeding therapy. She is trained in the Orton-Gillingham Reading Program. Megan is passionate about providing team-based, culturally appropriate, and bilingual speech, language, and feeding therapy, ensuring that all children are given the support needed to achieve their full potential at home, school, and their community. In her free time, Megan loves to spend time with her dog, Fitzgerald, go hiking, and recipe test delicious meals and desserts in the kitchen!

Meghan Massengill, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Meghan is a Cary, North Carolina native. She discovered her love of occupational therapy during her undergraduate studies at Meredith College while completing an externship at a local pediatric OT clinic. While at Meredith College, she also gained valuable experience working with children with Autism, which further shaped her passion for working with children. Meghan completed her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy at East Carolina University in 2017. She has clinical experience working in the school system, inpatient rehab, NICU, and pediatric outpatient clinic settings. Meghan is incredibly excited about helping children learn, grow, and achieve their goals. She loves to use a play-based, child led approach to connect with clients to engage in therapy and believes it is important for every member of a child’s team to be involved in treatment. Meghan has a strong background in addressing sensory integration, handwriting, social skills, self-regulation skills, bike riding, self-care skills, praxis skills, fine/gross motor skills, reflex integration, and feeding. She has experience with specialized programs such as the Zones of Regulation, Alert Program, Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (Wilbarger Brushing Protocol), iLs Focus System, Astronaut Training, and various programs from Social Thinking. Meghan is also certified in administration of the iLs Safe and Sound Protocol which is targeted to help individuals regulate their nervous system more efficiently. In her free time, she enjoys going on walks with her dog, Lola, playing games, yoga, and traveling.

Megan Sears, MS, CCC-SLP, CAS

Speech-Language Pathologist

Orofacial Myologist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Megan “Meg” has been a practicing speech-language pathologist since 2008, after she graduated from the University of North Texas with a Master’s Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences. Her relevant work experience includes early intervention, school, and clinic based services for pediatric patients birth to 21 years-old. After practicing across Dallas and Austin, Texas, Meg decided to relocate to North Carolina to be closer to her family. She’s beyond excited to be a part of the Emerge team (since July 2021) and hopes her education and enthusiasm for therapy can serve her new community. Meg has experience with speech and language delays/disorders of all levels, which includes supporting families with alternative and augmentative means of communicating. She’s been trained in Social Thinking, Zones of Regulation, PROMPT (intro), Talk Tools Assessment and Intervention, Beckman Oral Motor, S.O.S Approach to Feeding, Melanie Potock – Feeding (It’s Not Just About Swallowing) and ARFID courses. Recently, Meg completed coursework with the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy and is an intro level myofunctional therapist. Her continuing education demonstrates a passion for treating disorders of the oral mechanism for more independent, functional feeding and speech development. Meg is associated with ASHA, the AOMT, and IBCCES as a Certified Autism Specialist. Additionally, she is a Feeding Matters and a Feed The Peds Myo member. When she’s not working, Meg’s practicing yoga, experimenting in the kitchen, hiking around town with her husband and two dogs, watching scary movies, or exploring new restaurants.

Mira Patel, MOT, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Mira is a Florida native who recently moved to North Carolina in July of 2020. She graduated with her Bachelors in Health Science, and a minor in Disabilities in Society from the University of Florida in 2016. After falling in love with the field of occupational therapy while volunteering at an outpatient pediatric rehabilitation clinic, she received her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at the University of Florida in December of 2017. Prior to starting at Emerge, Mira worked in outpatient pediatric and school settings, as well as early intervention in home and daycare settings. Mira has experience working with a variety of diagnoses, including but not limited to, sensory processing disorder, Down syndrome, autism, ADHD, developmental delays, intellectual and learning disabilities, fine motor delays, handwriting difficulties, and feeding difficulties. She has experience working alongside physical therapists, speech therapists, psychologists, and ABA therapists as part of a multidisciplinary team. Mira has continuing education and training in Learning without Tears K-5, Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS Feeding), and introductory DIR Floortime. She also has experience with the Zones of Regulation, and Alert program, and the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol to address sensory processing and modulation, and emotional regulation difficulties. In her free time, Mira likes to spend time with her friends and family, travel, read, and hike with her dog.

Mira's childhood photo of her holding flowers at a graduation

Miranda Romano, MS, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Miranda is a Florida native who completed her undergraduate degree in exercise science and health promotion from Florida Atlantic University. She became interested in occupational therapy after competing and traveling internationally with the US Paralympic swim team. She went on to complete her master’s in occupational therapy from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. While completing her masters, she participated in research focused on gaining an understanding of the consistency of results between evaluations tools that determine if a child has a sensory processing disorder. Miranda has a passion for helping adults and children with disabilities participate fully in their most meaningful activities. She has experience working with the Special Olympics and adaptive athletic programs, in the areas of coaching and advocacy. Miranda completed her level II fieldwork rotation with Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines, FL in the pediatric outpatient therapy department. During this time, she developed experience working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, developmental delay, intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities. Outside of work, Miranda enjoys anything outdoors, traveling, swimming, hiking, cooking, and exploring the Raleigh/Durham area with her husband, Adam.

Dr. Molly Gupta, OTD, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Molly was born and raised in Boone, North Carolina and received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from North Carolina State University in 2015, prior to receiving her doctoral degree in occupational therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2021. She loves occupational therapy because she is constantly inspired by human resiliency and loves working with clients and their families to enable productive and meaningful lives through creative evidence-based interventions. Prior to graduate school, Molly worked at the Duke Center for Autism on clinical trials investigating the efficacy of stem cell therapy to treat early autism spectrum disorder. Molly continued to pursue a role in research during her graduate studies in the Infant Motor Development Lab in the physical therapy department at Virginia Commonwealth University where she completed her doctoral project on the importance of playfulness between infants and parents in early childhood to promote cognitive and motor development. Molly is a scholar in the Interdisciplinary Training for Inclusive Practices (ITIP) fellowship funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs. The ITIP program is focused on preparing occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology practitioners to develop shared competencies in interdisciplinary practice and skills as change agents to build capacity of school personnel to improve outcomes for children with disabilities. In her free time Molly enjoys reading, running, time with family, and dragon boat racing.

Headshot of Natalie Radford

Natalie Radford, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Natalie grew up on the coast of Virginia and first moved to North Carolina to complete her undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. She majored in Human Development and Family Studies, which allowed her to complete an internship at Emerge during her senior year! Natalie graduated from James Madison University with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2020. Her clinical placements allowed for a diverse patient population while working in inpatient, outpatient, and early intervention settings. She has experience working with children with speech-sound disorders, voice and trach management, expressive/receptive language delays, developmental delays, and feeding and swallowing disorders. Natalie is excited to return to Emerge as a therapist! She loves creating a fun and positive environment that encourages her clients’ and their support systems to reach their goals. Outside of work, Natalie enjoys exploring outdoors, traveling, reading, and running with her dog, Franklin.

Nicole Kristal, MS, OT/L, PEERs Certified Provider

Occupational Therapist

Part of the Emerge Family since 2019

Nicole comes to us from the San Francisco Bay Area of California. She received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University. Nicole began working with exceptional children at age 17 years old, when she fell in love with a child with autism and never wanted to do anything else with her life but to serve and love exceptional children. She has experience working in sensory integration clinics, schools, and even in camp settings, where she was able to help direct residential camps for children and adolescents with autism.  She has years of experience working with children with autism, ADD/ADHD, sensory processing disorders, general motor delays, as well as other developmental delays. She has specialized training in the use of DIR/Floortime, Wilbarger Brushing Protocol, Therapeutic Listening, the Zones of Regulation, Handwriting Without Tears, and the TEACCH program fundamentals. In addition, Nicole is a certified PEERs counselor.  The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) is world-renowned for providing evidence-based social skills treatment to preschoolers, adolescents, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and other socio-emotional problems. Nicole believes the best thing about being an Occupational Therapist is getting a chance to celebrate the large and small victories that her clients’ experience each day!  In her free time, Nicole performs on an improvisational comedy group in Chapel Hill. She enjoys camping, dancing, live music, and hiking.

Dr. Sarah Johnson OTD, OTR/L, CLC

Occupational Therapist

Certified Lactation Counselor

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Sarah received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences in 2019 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a major in Human Development. She discovered her love for occupational therapy in middle school when she had an opportunity to work with a young boy with cerebral palsy. Sarah completed her doctoral project in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and pediatric outpatient therapy clinic in Burlington, NC. In the NICU, Sarah developed skills feeding premature and sick infants and working with infants with sensory processing difficulties. Her doctoral experience fueled her love for working with the infant population and addressing feeding skills. Sarah presented on Occupational Therapy’s Role With Breastfeeding at the American Occupational Therapy Association Centennial Conference in 2017. She has completed training in evidence-based approaches to interventions in the NICU, Brachial Plexus Birth Injury, Torticollis and Plagiocephaly and has attained Basic Floortime, SOS Approach to Feeding, Feeding the 6-16 Month Old Child and Beckman Oral Motor certifications. She has extensive experience working with children with autism and working with children from birth to 18 on feeding skills utilizing a variety of approaches. She has an interest in working with infants and their families during transition home from the hospital and providing support during the first year of life including feeding, fine and gross motor milestones, and sensory processing. Sarah is excited to use the Floortime Approach with the group of children who first piqued her interest in Occupational Therapy: toddlers and school age children. Sarah enjoys spending time with her family and dog, baking, trying out new restaurants and exploring outdoors.

Amanda Pahl, BA

Executive Assistant

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Amanda grew up in Charlotte, spent a few years living overseas in China, and returned to Raleigh to finish high school. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in December of 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal & Organizational Communication, and minors in Neuroscience and Women & Gender Studies. Amanda is now pursuing a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University, and hopes to be a licensed therapist within the next few years. Throughout college she worked in Social Media Marketing and E-commerce for various companies and joined the Emerge team in May of 2021 as the Executive Assistant to the Executive and Marketing Directors. Her favorite parts of the job include content creation, video editing, and community outreach events. When Amanda is not working at Emerge, she enjoys recording music, playing with her puppy Nala, spending time with friends, and road-tripping to Wisconsin to visit her family.

 

Carolyn Childress, BS

Client Relation Coordinator

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Carolyn grew up in Prospect Hill, NC and moved to Durham with her daughter in 2012.  She attended Liberty University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, and her Master’s Degree in Human Service Counseling in 2018.  Carolyn comes to Emerge with a diverse range of experience working with young children and adolescents in the Early Childhood Classroom and Durham Public Schools EC Department, where she also focused on student advocacy and mental health awareness. Carolyn has experience coaching with Girls on the Run and serving as a youth mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.  Prior to joining Emerge, she served as a Match Support Specialist, with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle.

Carolyn’s passion for fostering the successful development of today’s youth, began with the strong bond she holds as a mother and aunt. In 2019, Carolyn married her husband and gained three step-children, instantly becoming a family of 6.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and playing with her puppy.  She also enjoys volunteering in the local community, attending Burn Boot Camp, watching Durham Bulls Baseball and traveling.

Dan Hacker, BA

Front Desk Manager

Part of the Emerge Family since 2009

Dan is a native Durham resident. He did the majority of his grade schooling at Carolina Friends School in Durham and graduated from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Film Studies.  In his downtime, Dan is a semi-professional photographer with published works. When he is not busy taking pictures you can find him going to movies, attending the theater, reading comics, playing video games and trying any of the new trendy restaurants that have sprung up in our area.  Dan says. “My favorite thing about working at Emerge is the people. From my amazing team of therapists and aids to the wonderful families that attend our clinic, my day is packed with one-on-one interactions that I’ve never get tired of. On top of that, seeing kids come into our clinic and improve and conquer the challenges they face in life really moving. While I enjoy seeing the same faces week-after-week, seeing our patients’ graduate is an amazing thing to be a part of.”

Deb Van Deman, BA

Therapy Aide

Part of the Emerge Family since 2013

Deb graduated with a B.A. in Recreational Therapy from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. She delighted in teaching spirited Kindergartners for four years and facilitated a pre-k science class at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, before starting a family. She has an amazing daughter, her husband, and two wonderful teenage grandsons. Returning to the work force, she became an office manager in a busy Chiropractic clinic that continued for almost 20 years. Her desire to be near family took her on a journey to Durham in 2012 where she was happy to discover Emerge! Here she attends to the many needs of the clinic, the children, and the therapists as well. Deb loves to read historical fiction, enjoys needlepoint and likes to taste-test (with gusto!) the various restaurants in and around town.

Joan Felton, BA

Office Manager

Part of the Emerge Family since 2017

Joan comes to Emerge Pediatric Therapy with eight years of experience working as an office manager in an occupational therapy setting. She is a graduate of North Carolina Wesleyan College with a B.A. in Theater. She lives in Durham with her husband Alan. She has two children, John Alan and Virginia Gayle, who both attend Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Joan’s hobbies include sewing, embroidery and caring for her two dogs Lucy and Freedom.

 
Headshot of Mackenzie Valleta

Mackenzie Valletta, BA

Client Relations Coordinator 

Part of the Emerge Family since 2020

Mackenzie is a New York native who spent most of her childhood growing up in central North Carolina. She attended Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. There she studied media production and graduated with a BA in Communications and a minor in Film Studies. For 11 years, Mackenzie was a girl scout, where she learned leadership skills and the importance of caring for one another. This has translated into her interest in handing communication efforts as one of our Client Relations Coordinators. In her spare time, Mackenzie enjoys staying active by taking long nature hikes and attending dance classes.

 

Rachel Keen, BA

Therapy Aide

Part of the Emerge Family since 2018

Rachel is native of the Queen City of Charlotte and moved to Chapel Hill in 2014 to complete her undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill where she graduated with a B.A. in Biology and minor in Cognitive Science. Rachel began volunteering at Emerge in 2016 and continued to volunteer with group therapy sessions until she was hired to join the Emerge team as a therapy aide in May of 2018. Currently, Rachel is a second year student at the Wingate University Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. She works remotely for Emerge doing data entry and other online tasks. Rachel also works as a research coordinator for UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine indulging in her love for rehabilitative science. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her pets Timmy and Franklin (Go Heels!), exercising, baking, reading, and exploring nature.

Headshot of Tori Rucker

Tori Rucker, MPH

Community Engagement Coordinator

Part of the Emerge Family since 2021

Tori grew up in a small one stoplight rural town in southern West Virginia and moved to Wake County in July 2020 with her husband and their dog, Petey. From an early age she has always loved working with and being around children of all ages. In 2018 she completed a B.S. degree in Public Health with a minor in Family and Childhood Development from West Virginia University. After graduation she continued her education from East Tennessee State University where she received her MPH with a focus in epidemiology. For the past few years her focus has been working with substance abuse prevention and harm reduction in southern WV. After moving to NC, her passions began to transition from working with those struggling with substance abuse to working with children and adolescents in hopes that they will not turn to illicit substances later in life. Her passion is to show love to those who may have never experienced love. In her spare time she enjoy volunteering with CORRAL Riding Academy, volunteering in the children’s ministry at her church, visiting local coffee shops, spending time with her husband and dog, and cooking.

Consultants

Kerry Jones

Registered Dietitian

My name is Kerry and I am a Registered Dietitian passionate about helping growing families navigate life and achieve all of their milestones along the way. I work with women who are trying to conceive, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children to help manage medical conditions, tackle picky eating, and establish a good family relationship with food. With an overload of nutrition information available, I understand how difficult it can be to know which foods are best for you and your family. I am here to be a trusted nutrition resource for your growing family.

I believe that there is no one “perfect diet” for everyone. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to do the best we can for our families. This is where I can help! I love connecting with growing families to help make feeding your family a little easier. No matter what the problem or hurdle is, together, we can create an individualized plan that fits your family’s needs and lifestyle.

http://www.milestonesnutrition.com/