Meet the awesome therapists who keep Early Bird thriving!
Amanda Deel is a Full Time Occupational Therapist with Early Bird. She is originally from Michigan. She moved to Charlotte, NC in 2019 where she joined the Early Bird team. She received her Bachelors of Science from Michigan State University in 2017 and her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Grand Valley State University in 2019. Amanda is passionate about working with pediatrics and loves to be playful and fun during therapy. Amanda specializes in early intervention, sensory processing disorders, self-regulation difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and fine motor delays. She loves working with families in their home and community environments where she can support the child in their natural environment in order to have the most success in their daily life. In her spare time, Amanda loves to hike, camp, read, and play board games and cards with her friends and family.
Courtney received a BA in Psychology (2006) and Master’s in Occupational Therapy (2008) from East Carolina University. She’s one of rare locals, and is from Matthews. She has 9 years of experience as a pediatric Occupational therapist, and 8 years in clinic based practice. She has certifications in Early Intervention, Handwriting Without Tears®, Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding™ (SOS). She has experience treating and especially enjoys working with children with Autism and other developmental delays, Down Syndrome, sensory processing disorders, feeding difficulties, motor planning difficulties, handwriting difficulties, fine motor and visual perceptual delays or difficulties. She has 2 young girls, and enjoys empowering parents and families to help their children thrive. She also enjoys music, and incorporates it into her sessions as often as she can.
Dana is from Buffalo, NY and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science from Stony Brook University in Long Island, NY in 2003. After volunteering with the Stony Brook University Medical Center Occupational Therapy Department and UCP Children’s Learning Center of Cheektowaga, NY, Dana fell in love with the field of occupational therapy. She graduated from the New York Institute of Technology in Long Island, NY with her Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy in 2006. Following graduation, she worked as a school-based therapist with the New York City Department of Education until October 2012. Additionally, Dana has worked in sensory based clinics and performed home care visits for the New York City Early Intervention program. Dana has experience and training in Handwriting Without Tears, Therapeutic Listening, Astronaut Training, Interactive Metronome, the SOS Approach to Feeding, and is working towards completing her certification in the administration of the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests. Dana’s outlook on home-based therapy has changed since recently becoming a mother of two. She strives to fully understand the challenges her families face and collaboratively works to develop effective, sensible and fun ways to support her clients’ participation in their daily activities. Dana enjoys spending time with her husband, son and daughter, and relaxes with arts and crafts in her spare time.
Jennifer is originally from Baltimore MD. Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in OT from Towson University in 1996. She has lived in Waxhaw, NC for 18 years and worked for EBDS since 2009. She has a Level I certification in Hippotherapy. She has worked in pediatrics since 1998. She is married with two children, and spends most of her free time watching her children play softball and baseball. She enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and enjoys exploring nature. She loves being part of a team with families and helping parents become empowered to lead their children toward independence.
Jennifer grew up in Southern California. She graduated from St Mary’s College with a BS in Health Science (1993) and from Tufts University with an MS in Occupational Therapy. (1995). Jennifer has worked in a variety of settings In Seattle and Charlotte including school based, clinic based and in homes and daycares. Jennifer started working with Early Bird in 2012. She has certifications and trainings including pediatric neurodevelopmental treatment, therapeutic listening, level 2 hippotherapy treatment, Kinesiotaping, visual vestibular assessment and treatment, reflex integration to support education, advanced practical sense in sensory integration, executive functioning in children and adolescents, and strengths based approaches for autism and behavior.Working alongside children and their families to support development and help every child reach their full potential has been one of her greatest joys. Jennifer has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC,Seattle, Manchester,UK and has called Charlotte home since 2003. She loves spending free time with her husband of 24 years and three boys. She enjoys gardening, reading, hiking, and traveling. Her friends and family tease her about being a weather fanatic and know to call her for the most accurate and up to date forecasts for hurricanes, Nor’easters, and fire alerts.
Jessica Jennings is a full time Occupational Therapist with Early Bird who covers the Steele Creek and surrounding South Charlotte areas. She is a born and raised Florida girl who has lived in the Charlotte area since 2014. She graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Florida Gulf Coast University and in 2010 with a Master’s of Occupational Therapy degree from University of St Augustine for Health Sciences. Jessica has a passion for pediatrics with experience in hospital based, outpatient based, NICU and home health settings. Her certifications and areas of interest include Interactive Metronome, Astronaut Training, Therasuit Method, behavior and self-regulation strategies, sensory-behavioral feeding, sensory integration, visual and fine motor difficulties, handwriting, self-care and most of all improving play skills with children who have a wide range of developmental delays. Jessica also treats children ages birth to three through the Early Intervention program with the Children’s Developmental Services Agency of Mecklenburg County as well as working on her Master Coach training in coaching interaction styles and natural learning environment practices through The Family, Infant and Preschool Program. The most enjoyable part of her job is getting the opportunity to work within her community and not being bound to the four walls of a clinic. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys travelling with her family and friends, spending time outdoors with her 2 dogs and practicing yoga.
Kaitlyn (Greenberg) Cardona
Keira Gathers, originally from Idaho, graduated with her master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington in 2005. Her specialty areas of practice and certifications include early intervention, pediatric feeding, Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding, Therapeutic Listening, and certification to administer and interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT). She has experience treating children with developmental delays, feeding issues, sensory processing disorders, autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, and fine motor delays. Keira’s passion is living life to the fullest and working with clients to do the same. She enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, traveling, hiking, tennis, music, and spending time in the sun.
Mary-Kate grew up in Buffalo, NY and moved to Charlotte in October 2020. She received her Bachelors in Public Health from Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA in 2015 and Masters of Occupational Therapy from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY in 2018. In addition to growing up in a large family of ten, her interest in the field of pediatric OT sparked because her little sister has cerebral palsy. As one of her strongest advocates, she feels that she can relate to families who want their child to be as successful as possible, too! Prior to Early Bird, she was a school-based therapist for 2 years in Buffalo, and also has experience practicing within the outpatient setting in Nashville, TN. This is the best job in the world! She loves to build rapport with each unique child, in addition to, work with the family as a unit. In her spare time, she likes to go on walks with her dog, spend time with family/friends, take a boxing class, and travel.
Michelle graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Psychology with an emphasis on child development. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is married with two young girls. Michelle has worked with various diagnoses and she is trained in Sensory Integration, Therapeutic Listening, Neuro-Developmental Techniques, Aquatics, Constraint Induced Movement Therapy, Interactive Metronome, SOS Approach to Feeding Difficulties, Handwriting without Tears, in addition to strengthening, fine motor and perceptual training.
Sarah graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne College with a Masters in Occupational Therapy in 2008. She has experience with adults and pediatric populations in a variety of settings including outpatient and inpatient hospital settings, mental health, home health, and NICU. Sarah has experience in sensory integration, Handwriting Without Tears, splinting, Wilbarger Therapressure Protocol, infant massage and other pediatric related courses and training. Sarah enjoys working with children in the home environment where she can include the entire family and caregiving team in making a positive impact on the child’s outcomes. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and their sweet chocolate lab, Porter. They spend most of their free time remodeling their beloved mid-century home. When they aren’t remodeling they enjoy camping, hiking, biking and traveling.
Tina graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1986 with a BS in Occupational Therapy. She went on to receive a Master’s in Child and Family Studies in 2011 from UNC Charlotte. She has specialized in pediatric Occupational Therapy for the past 32 years, but enjoys all areas of OT. Tina is originally from Coral Gables, Florida. She is the youngest of 10 siblings, who were all born in the span of 12 years, with no multiple births! She thinks OT is the best job in the world!
Barb is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and Florida State University. She comes to us with over 20 years of experience treating in outpatient hospitals, schools and private clinics. She is skilled in working with children with receptive and expressive language disorders/delays, phonological and articulation disorders, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorders, Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Down Syndrome and a variety of developmental/neurological disorders. Her passion is treating children with feeding/swallowing disorders. She has received training in the SOS Approach to Feeding, Shaker Infant feeding and various Talk Tool programs. She places an emphasis on making meal time more enjoyable for the entire family. She enjoys collaborating with other professionals and the family for success with treatment. When she isn’t working, Barb enjoys spending time with her family and friends, hiking and reading.
Caroline is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. She graduated from The University of Tennessee in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, and in 2020 from East Tennessee State University with a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She loves empowering the children she works with by teaching them skills so that they can communicate effectively and independently. When she is not working, she enjoys cheering on the TN Vols, going to trivia, running, exploring new restaurants, and visiting with friends and family.
Chelsey Bostelman went to The University of Toledo where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology and played on the volleyball team. She currently holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology and is Level 1 certified with the American Hippotherapy Association. Hippotherapy has become a special area of interest for her, as it combines her love for animals, the outdoors and speech therapy! She also loves being able to play outside and incorporate sports into therapy sessions. She is from Grand Haven, Mich., but has been living in Charlotte since 2009.
Christin graduated with a Bachelors in Science with a concentration in Speech Language Pathology from Western Michigan University in 2008. She received her Masters in Arts Degree with a concentration in Communication Disorders in 2010. Christin in originally from a small town in Michigan called Corunna, and moved to Charlotte a few months after finishing graduate school. She loves working with little kiddos, primarily with the Early Intervention ages. She finds it so incredible to see them learn new things and how they absorb so much and learn so quickly. It’s so rewarding to see families grow and learn to communicate more functionally and effectively through the strategies provided through therapy. To see overall growth in a child, knowing she helped shape their speech and language, is so rewarding. Christin is bilingual in English and Spanish. She lived in Mexico for two years and has worked with Spanish speaking families for the duration of her career. She has two female pit bulls, Moka and Micha, who are her “kids.” She loves to travel and spend time with her friends and family. She could/would eat sushi, cereal and bbq chicken nachos every day if it were allowed.
Christine is originally from Buffalo, NY but relocated to Charlotte in 2011 and quickly called Early Bird home. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Buffalo in 2008 and her Master of Science degree from Fredonia University in 2010. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology and has taken on the role of Clinical Supervisor for the past three years. Christine has a passion for children with Autism, although loves all pediatric therapy. She enjoys out of the box therapy including walks, visiting playgrounds, cooking, obstacle courses, and arts and crafts. In addition, she finds it extremely valuable to collaborate with other service providers, teachers, families, and loves learning from others. She is a wife and mother of three beautiful girls ages 4, 2, and 1. She never has a dull moment and is always on the go!
rene DeGangi is originally from Staten Island New York. She moved to North Carolina in 2018. Irene received her BA in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from St. John’s University in 1999. She received her MA in Deaf Education from Adelphi University in 2001 and her MA in Speech-language pathology from St. John’s University in 2003. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from The American Speech Language and Hearing Association. Irene’s graduate studies included a variety of experiences working with both children and adults. Post graduate she has worked with children ages birth through high school, providing both school and home-based therapy. Her experiences have developed her clinical skills working with expressive and receptive language impairment, articulation and phonological disorders, developmental delays, and feeding delays. Additionally, Irene has training in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (including ABA), and pediatric motor speech disorders/apraxia (including PROMPT training), as well as training in working with children using Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices. When she’s not working, Irene enjoy spending time with her husband and three boys.
Jennifer graduated from North Carolina A&T State University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications in 2008 and graduated from North Carolina Central University with a master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2011. She is a, “military brat” who has lived all over the world, including: Texas, Germany and South Korea, but calls Fayetteville, NC home. Jennifer enjoys working with children from all different backgrounds and cultures to help them improve their expressive language skills and has an interest in working with children with Apraxia. She feels that she has done her job if a child/parent leaves the session confident and happy with their progress. When she is not working, Jennifer enjoys watching and discussing sports, probably more than most men!
Justine Burns, M.S. CCC-SLP is a certified and licensed Speech Language Pathologist through the American Hearing and Speech Association (ASHA) and North Carolina Board of Examiners for Speech and Language Pathologists and Audiologists. She graduated from New York Medical College with a Master’s of Science in Speech Pathology and has a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Disorders from SUNY at New Paltz. Justine has worked in a wide variety of settings including schools for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and developmental disabilities, private outpatient clinics, homecare, children’s hospitals, and feeding disorder clinics. She specializes in oral-motor and feeding disorders, childhood language disorders, and developmental delays. She is a certified Vital Stim Therapy provider (i.e., NMES). Justine relocated from Astoria, NY in June 2013, and is excited to explore Charlotte. She enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, paddle boarding, and biking, and spending time with family and friends.
Katie is originally from Horseheads, New York. She graduated from Elmira College in 2001 with a Bachelors of Science degree in working with the Speech and Hearing Handicapped, and a Bachelors of Science degree in Pre-K, kindergarten, and grades 1st-6th grades. Nazareth College in Rochester, NY in 2003 with a Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology with a concentration in working with the Deaf/Hard of Hearing population. Katie’s special interests include working with preschool, elementary aged children with speech, language and feeding/swallowing delays and with working with adolescents and adults with traumatic brain injuries. She is MBSImp certified and qualified to perform MBS and FEES to assess feeding/swallowing skills and concerns. She enjoys working with children and adults and making a positive impact in their lives in regard to speech, language and swallowing skills. Katie enjoys teaching fitness classes at the YMCA and spending time with family. She loves traveling and relaxing at the pool and beach. She is married and has one daughter who is 4 years old.
Katie Norberg graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2008 with a bachelor of science in Communications Disorders and Sciences and from Buffalo State College in 2010 with a master of science in Speech and Language Pathology. She is originally from Long Island, NY. Her special areas of interest are autism, augmentative and alternative communication, and articulation. Out of all of her job responsibilities, she most enjoys working with the kids.
Kelly Gainer-Schalla (Powers)
Upon graduating from UTEP in 1998 and earning my CCC, I was employed with an early intervention agency in San Antonio, TX. It was my very first experience working with children and I learned so much from my colleagues, families, and other professionals that I felt I had found my niche. I have worked in a variety of settings, including home health, nursing homes, hospitals, and schools, and early intervention is by far my favorite and where my passion lies. I have worked with children with many different diagnoses: Down Syndrome, Autism, Ataxia–telangiectasia, Treacher Collins Syndrome, Fragile X, cerebral palsy, genetic syndromes, selective mutism, FAS, etc. I have experience in oral motor and feeding intervention, developmental delays, apraxia, autism, articulation/ phonology, and early language acquisition. In addition, I have a grown son (age 20) who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome as a child and whom I homeschooled, along with his sister, through middle and high school. My first EI experience in Texas trained me to use the coaching method and it has become a natural part of my sessions, both in person and through telepractice. I find that asking questions and having expectations of families to follow through is the most effective way to facilitate progress in therapy and establish a supportive relationship with caregivers through sharing my knowledge and experience.
Born and raised in small town western Pennsylvania, Krista Lengacher earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from PennStateUniversity in 2002. After graduation she moved across the country to Colorado to attend graduate school at The University of Northern Colorado (the other UNC), earning a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2004. Following graduation, she married and stayed in Colorado where she worked for the public school system in Denver. During her time in the schools she developed a real interest in helping the population of Latino families she served become better connected to their surrounding community. A few years passed and once again Krista found herself packing her bags for yet another long-distance move; this time to Guatemala where she immersed herself in culture and language for two years. There, she achieved her goal of becoming conversationally fluent in Spanish before returning to the states and finally settling down in Charlotte. Over the past decade she has developed a passion for the Latino culture and loves that Early Bird affords her the opportunity to help Charlotte‘s Latino families prepare their children with the tools they need to be successful.
Lauren Sussman is originally from Princeton, NJ and relocated to NC in August of 2014 to enjoy the warm weather and to make a change with her husband. She is a North Carolina licensed and ASHA certified SLP. Lauren received her undergraduate degree, which was a B.A., in Hearing and Speech Sciences in 2008 from the University of Maryland. She received her M.A. degree from Queens College in Flushing, NY in 2010. Lauren worked as a SLP in New York, NY for four years at a special education preschool and elementary school. She enjoys working with the special education population and has always enjoyed working with students who learn in different ways. In addition, Lauren has worked with the early intervention population and has taken the first PROMPT course. In her free time she enjoys exploring restaurants, cooking and working on her new cooking blog!
Lindsay Starr, originally from Indianapolis, Ind., is a North Carolina licensed and ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist. In 2006 she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Milligan College where she also minored in French. She then earned a Master of Health Science in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Missouri. (Go Tigers!) Lindsay worked as a school based SLP in the Chicago area before relocating to Charlotte with her husband in 2013 where she continues to work in the school setting. Lindsay’s professional areas of interest include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and developmental delays. She is trained in PECS as well as Structured TEACCHing. In her free time, Lindsay enjoys exploring her new city, taking advantage of the great weather in the southeast, and spending time with her family and friends.
Lynda Shorter graduated with a master’s degree Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in December of 2005. She holds a North Carolina permanent SLP license and Certificate of Clinical Competence through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Lynda is originally from the UK, however, she has lived in the USA now for more than 20 years. She holds The Hanen Program ® ‘It Takes Two to Talk’ Certification, and she is an Independent Certified Instructor for the Baby Signs ® Program. Her special areas of interest include fluency disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, autism spectrum disorder, language delay, late talkers, and articulation/phonological disorders. She enjoys gardening, jogging, practicing yoga and spending time with her three daughters.
Rachel was born in New York and raised in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. In 2009, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Queens University of Charlotte. After serving 7 years as a classroom teacher, she decided to pursue her passion for speech therapy. She attended North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC, earning a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2018. Rachel’s special interests include articulation/phonological disorders, language disorders, early language development, and literacy. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking Italian meals, running marathons, and spending time with her husband, family, and friends. The most rewarding part of speech therapy is partnering with families and seeing each child achieve their goals.
Sarah is originally from Doylestown, PA. She received a BA in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Florida in 2003. She received her M.S. from Nova Southeastern University in Speech Language Pathology. She holds an ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence. Her special area of interest is working with children diagnosed with autism, and she has spent over 5 years in this area. Sarah is also passionate about working with children who have sensory feeding disorders. What she most enjoys about her job is making connections with children and watching them progress and achieve their goals. She is a proud mother of two wonderful teenage girls. They love to spend our time outdoors, playing tennis, walking their dogs, and they particularly love the U.S. National White Water Center.
Stephanie Tolley, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC graduated from University of South Alabama. She is a North and South Carolina licensed and ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist. She has been providing feeding, swallowing, and communication therapy to families in the Charlotte area since 2011 and has practiced in outpatient hospital, home-health, daycare, private practice, and school settings. She is specialized in oral function, feeding, and swallowing problems from infancy through
adolescence. Stephanie enjoys helping families take the stress out of mealtimes. In her free time, she is hiking with her husband, Robert, and #darladog, doing yoga, or exploring the city.
Tammy Ofsanik has been a licensed Speech Pathologist since 1994 – first earning her Bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, and then her Master’s degree from the University of Redlands, in California. Her first job was as a school Speech Pathologist in Ohio working with children, K-12. She next took an unexpected, but blessed opportunity to work with adults of all ages in a variety of settings including hospitals, skilled nursing, assisted living, home health care, and outpatient. For a few years she had the added responsibility of being the Director of Rehabilitation, overseeing a couple of skilled nursing facilities and a team of therapists, in addition to providing Speech Pathology services. In 2000, Tammy and her husband moved to Charlotte from the Los Angeles area and started a family. In 2003 she took a break from working as a Speech Pathologist to stay home with her 2 young children but returned in 2007, focusing primarily on early intervention, but working with children of all ages. Tammy is currently serving the Charlotte area between Uptown, South Charlotte, Southwest Charlotte, and West Charlotte. Tammy enjoys the hobbies of genealogical study, scuba diving, biking, camping with her family, and gardening.
Tori Jacumin graduated with both her bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Appalachian State University. Tori grew up in Hickory, NC and moved to Charlotte upon graduating with her master’s degree. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and is licensed by the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Speech Language Pathology and Audiology. She has clinical experience with children and adults of all ages in preschools, elementary schools, hospitals, and private clinics. Tori also has special interests in early language development as well as the evaluation and treatment of pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders. In her free time, you can find her spending time with friends and family, hiking, traveling, and playing with her dog.
Wende Toth was born and raised in Schenectady, NY. After high school she attended and graduated from the State University of New York College at Geneseo with a bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders and Sciences in May of 1998. She also graduated from Western Illinois University with a master’s degree in Communicative Disorders and Sciences in May of 2000. She enjoys the field of Speech-Language Pathology for its ever changing challenges and opportunities. Throughout her career she has enjoyed working with children of all ages, from toddlers to high school students. When she is not working she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, especially at the beach or lake.
Whitney Miller is from Mooresville. She moved to Charlotte in 2010 from Wilmington, where she worked in a private practice serving children from 2 to 18 years old. Whitney graduated from UNC Greensboro with a bachelor of science in Communication Science and Disorders in 2007. Her family is largely made up of Appalachian State graduates. Much to their pleasure, she attended Appalachian State University for graduate school where she graduated with a master’s degree in Communication Disorders in 2009. While working with the pediatric population for the past four years, she attended the PROMPT course developed by Deborah Hayden and the Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding course developed by Kay Toomey. She also has experience using eye gaze systems with augmentative communication devices and enjoys the variety of her caseload. In her free time, Whitney enjoys being active outdoors and spending time with her husband at the Whitewater Center.
Ziya graduated from UNC Wilmington with a Bachelors of Science in Biology in 2008, she graduated in 2012 from University of Houston with her BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and she recieved her Masters in Communication Disorders from Texas State University in 2015. Ziya was born in Kenya and moved to Canada for a brief period of time before moving to Cary, NC. She spent the majority of her childhood in Cary and moved to Wilmington, NC to pursue her first degree in 2004. After receiving her degree in biology, she moved to Texas to be closer to her parents and brother, she lived in Texas for 9 years before moving to Charlotte. Her special areas of training include, feeding and swallowing disorders, stuttering and childhood apraxia of speech. She is fascinated by the brain/cognitive function and how it pertains to speech acquisition and swallowing. Ziya loves working with families in their most functional and natural settings so that she is able to assist in maximizing opportunities for learning and development within the daily life and routines that are already in place. In her free time, Ziya loves trying new restaurants, traveling, listening to music, spending time with her loved ones and reading. She would like to continue to learn about new cultures and immerse herself in learning about people and places.
Allison grew up in a small town outside of Rochester, NY and started her physical therapy journey after shadowing different disciplines in a school setting where her mom worked as a school nurse. She observed different disciplines that provided services to children with disABILITIES. She fell in love with the pediatric setting and was determined to continue pediatric physical therapy as a career. She took those next steps at Daemen College in Buffalo, NY where she went to PT school from start to finish. She was fortunate enough to get her dream job out of college (never feeling like she woke up having to go to a job as she loved what she was doing). She worked predominantly with 3-5 year olds in their homes, schools, or daycare. She loved that job and wished she could have picked it up with me when she moved, but she wanted to experience different cultures and better weather that NC has to offer. She started working for Early Bird this October 2020, and even though she was new, this job fit the shoes of her job in Buffalo. She has experience working with kids with a variety of different diagnoses: autism, ADD/ADHD, low tone, high tone, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, Elhers Danlos, and the list goes on. She enjoys working on reflex integration, as many children who require services still have positive primitive reflexes that contribute to his/her deficits. She loves learning about each child as a whole and working closely with families to see the children progress and flourish. The slightest progress always makes her day! She can’t wait to meet and work with you and your child!
Amy is from Erie, Pennsylvania and has lived in Charlotte for 32 years. She graduated from Indiana University with a BA in Biology and and BS in Physical Therapy from Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis. Amy has been treating the pediatric population for over 30 years especially children with neurological and genetic disorders, torticollis, plagiocephaly, hypotonia, gross motor delays, complex regional pain syndrome and post-concussion syndrome. Amy has been married for 30 years and has 3 children in their 20’s. Her career and life goals are to maintain her career in physical therapy, learn more each day and share her knowledge and happiness with others! Fun fact about Amy is that I am a dog lover and has a puppy named Archie.
Ashley has been a physical therapist for 13 years, practicing exclusively in pediatrics for the past 11 years. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and in 2000 with a master’s degree in Physical Therapy. Originally from Charlotte, she recently moved back to the area from Durham and now serves the north Charlotte area. She has practiced in outpatient pediatrics, Special Care Nursery, home health, and school settings during her career. She has served a variety of diagnosis, including Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, torticollis, prematurity, gross motor delay, osteogenesis imperfecta, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other orthopedic issues in children ages birth to 18 years old. She has received specialized training in NDT Facilitation, aquatic therapy, Theratogs, orthotics, wheelchair and equipment fitting, torticollis, treatment of the premature infant, and Partial Weight Bearing Gait Training. She especially enjoys working with children with cerebral palsy, torticollis and premature infants. When not practicing she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children, biking and going on hikes.
Beth graduated from The Ohio State University in 1997 with a degree in Allied Health/Physical Therapy. She graduated from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions with a transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy specializing in pediatrics in 2017. Beth has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient orthopedic, sports medicine, geriatric home care, and pediatrics. Each area has added to her knowledge and understanding of the aging process, family support, and medical diagnosis. Beth has received certification in pediatric NeuroDevelopment Treatment and pediatric kinesiotape application Beth is an APTA board certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy. She has attended extensive coursework in a variety of areas including respiratory care, neuromotor disorders, sensory processing, bracing/alignment, manual work, and vestibular hypofunction. When asked what she enjoys most about her job, she will tell you everything (except the paperwork)! Beth is married to her high school sweetheart and has triplets. In her spare time you will find her cheering on her kids in their various activities or spending time outdoors.
Carrie Stead received a bachelor of science in Exercise and Sports Science from the University of Georgia in 2000, and a master of physical therapy from the Medical College of Georgia in 2002. She is originally from Atlanta, Ga. Carrie has been practicing pediatric physical therapy for 11 years and is especially interested in medically fragile children, although she loves all aspects of pediatrics. She has worked in an inpatient pediatric hospital, outpatient pediatric clinic and home health/early intervention setting. Out of all of her job responsibilities, Carrie finds working with the families and becoming a part of their “extended family” to be most enjoyable. She is married and has a 4-year-old son. She and her family love to be outside, attend sporting events (especially UGA football games), and play with their dog, Cooper.
Diane graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston in 1977 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Therapy. She was part of the second graduating class of MUSC. She was born in Chapel Hill, but grew up in Bennetsville, SC, and she lived in Allentown, PA for 8 years before moving to Charlotte. Her special interest is in complex pediatrics. She loves helping families understand their child as being special but not fragile. She enjoys working on equipment needs and sorting out what will be best for the child. Diane has 10 grandchildren from ages 21 months to 26 years! In her free time she enjoys hiking, travelling, and yard work.
Jennifer Gottlieb is originally from Durham, NC. She graduated from East Carolina University in 1993 with a BS degree in physical therapy. She has worked exclusively in pediatrics in a variety of settings including: NICU, pediatric rehab hospital, outpatient clinic, early intervention and home health.
Jennifer has experience with a multitude of neurodevelopmental disorders including cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, spina bifida, Torticollis, and developmental delay. Jennifer has received advanced training in NDT facilitation, premature infants, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, sensory processing disorders, total motion release and aquatic therapy. She has also presented at the Maryland Board of Physical Therapy Conference on the topic of physical therapy treatment after selective dorsal rhizotomy in children with cerebral palsy. Jennifer enjoys working with children and their families and assisting the children to achieve their maximal potential regarding their motor development. In her free time, Jennifer loves to spend family time with her husband and three teenage children. She enjoys soccer, hiking and reading.
Jessie is originally from Greensboro, NC. She went to UNC Chapel Hill and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She went to the Medical University of South Carolina and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2012. She enjoys working with children in the area of early intervention. She enjoys spending time with her two dogs and loves to cook and travel.
Karen received her Master of Physical Therapy from Emory University in 1987 and completed her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Montana in 2019. Karen loves serving children with all diagnoses, and she has been practicing in the Charlotte area for over 30 years. She offers a full-body treatment approach, utilizing her training in Neurodevelopmental handling and facilitation (NDT), Myofascial Release (MFR), Total Motion Release (TMR), and Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST). Karen also enjoys assessing posture and biomechanics, assisting with equipment and orthotic management when needed. In addition, she serves as an adjunct faculty member at CPCC and as a Yoga instructor and educator. Karen finds pleasure in spending time with her husband and three children.
Nathalie Von Fossen
Nathalie was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada and she moved to the Carolinas at age 4. She graduated from UNC-Charlotte with a BS in Health Promotion and Kinesiology in 1999 and Associates Degree from PT Assistant program at CPCC in 2002. She enjoys working with Children with Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. She and her husband Ty have two boys, Mason and Micah. She enjoys watching her boys play baseball and running.
Community Based Rehabilitative Service Providers:
Audrey Pearlman graduated from East Carolina University, in 1989, with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education. In 1996, she earned additional certification specializing in Learning Disabilities, at The University of North Carolina Charlotte. She has taught 14 years in the classroom and 5 years as a teacher support for Exceptional Children teachers in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. She holds certification with North Carolina Infant Toddler Family Services and has earned her Master Coach Certification through the Mecklenburg CDSA. Audrey has been with Early Bird Developmental Services since 2009. Enabling parents and caregivers to be empowered to care for and feel confident first teachers of their children is her passion. She implements old and new strategies for continuous learning and growth. Seeing the family’s progress and joys are what makes her love her job and strive to adapt to each family’s needs.
Lisa Cook graduated from the University of Maryland in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education. In 1997 she earned her master’s degree in Special Education at HofstraUniversity in Uniondale, NY. She holds certification with North Carolina Infant Toddler Family Services and is ABA/Behavioral Therapist/behavioral Intervention Lisa is originally from New York. The job responsibility she finds most enjoyable is working with families and seeing fundamental changes. She says, “Love, love, love my job!” She loves her family and has two amazing kids. A fun fact about her life is that in her spare time she loves to bake and she has a chocolate business where she makes homemade chocolates!