Meet the Department

Department Interim Chairperson
Mariann MoranMariann E. Moran, OTD, OTR, CHT
Department Interim Chairperson
Mariann Moran, OTD, OTR, CHT, has been an Occupational Therapist since 1979.  Dr. Moran earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology at Kean University (1976), her Master in Business Administration from Fairleigh Dickenson University (2000) with a concentration in health care administration, and her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (2010) with a concentration in hand rehabilitation.  She has worked in a variety of settings including acute care, homecare, school based therapy, and hand therapy clinics.  She has been a certified hand therapist since 1992.  In 1994, she started her own private practice in hand therapy. Accelerated Hand Therapy had grown from one office to six offices in 5 counties, with a staff of 40 with 14 certified hand therapists and occupational therapists, when she sold it in 2017.   She has served as an Adjunct Professor at Kean University from 2001-2011 and was elevated to full time Assistant Professor in September 2011.
Mariann has represented both occupational therapy and hand therapy on several committees including Horizon Casualty (part of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield), New Jersey Occupational Therapy License Advisory Council and St. Elizabeth’s College Masters in Health Administration Advisory Committee. She is a founding member of the New Jersey chapter of the American Society of Hand Therapists and was president from 1996-1999. She is an active member of the American Society of Hand Therapists and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). She was president of the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association (NJOTA) from 2009 until 2011 and has been an executive board member for many years.  She represented New Jersey as the NJ Representative to the Representative Assembly of AOTA. 


Mariann has developed a special interest in ergonomics. She has presented many lectures and workshops to companies, industries, other professions, and the general public. She has presented both national and international.  She has articles published in peer review journals and in specialized hand therapy books.

Department Managers & Staff
Geraldine Pagaoa, MS, OTR
Kean Cares Clinic Director
Mrs. Pagaoa has been an occupational therapist for over 13 years specializing in adult neurological populations. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology at Rutgers College, Rutgers University in 1995. She then completed her Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in 2001. Mrs. Pagaoa worked as the OT Clinical Manager and OT Student Coordinator for the Chester campus at the nationally ranked Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation (KIR). She led and participated in a variety of organization wide committees. Her accomplishments at KIR included development of a Cardiac Recovery Program and Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Program, development of ADL Program, Brain Injury Safety Coach Program and Employee Safe Patient Handling Policy/Procedure. In addition, Mrs. Pagaoa increased research collaboration between the Kessler Chester campus therapists and Kessler Foundation Research Center (KFRC). She participated in consenting and data collection for a number of stroke and brain injury related research initiatives related to spatial neglect assessment and treatment, assessment of cognition and TBI Model Systems.
Mrs. Pagaoa was also an OT Clinical Consultant for JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute primarily for Center of Head Injuries Continuum. At JFK she also worked in the acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, subacute and homecare departments. Mrs. Pagaoa was employed by Motorika, USA as a Clinical Specialist where she traveled nationally and internationally to train therapists on the use of ReoGo robotics in daily intervention. She participated in product development, clinical research and marketing while maintaining and developing customer relationships.
Mrs. Pagaoa has presented on a variety of topics at local hospitals and conferences and was a featured therapist on HBO’s documentary “COMA”. She has had a variety of poster presentations at state, national and international conferences including NJOTA, AOTA, Safety Summit and ACRM.
Mrs. Pagaoa worked as an Adjunct Professor for the Kean University Occupational Therapy department since 2006 teaching Seminar in Adult Rehab Practice and Theoretical Guidelines to Practice II Lab prior to being elevated to Kean Community Cares Clinic Director in 2014. She holds additional certifications in physical agent modalities, A-ONE and Kinesiotaping and is currently a member of NJOTA, AOTA and WFOT.
Thais PetrocelliThais K. Petrocelli, MHA, OTR
Academic Fieldwork Coordinator

Ms. Petrocelli has been a practicing Occupational Therapist since obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Elizabethtown College in 2003.  In 2012, she was awarded a Masters of Health Administration from the University of Phoenix.  

Ms. Petrocelli has worked in a variety of therapeutic settings and populations including mental health, eating disorders, adult rehabilitation, and pediatrics.  While working at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, Ms. Petrocelli was instrumental with the founding of the Falls and Balance clinic to address the needs of psychiatric patients who were also medically involved.  She created and implemented a streamlined monthly documentation form for the entire Rehabilitation Department and updated and put the OT student manual in an electronic format.  She was also involved with the initial implementation of the TIPS community re-entry program which continues to be a premier program at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital.  While working at Somerset Medical Center, Ms. Petrocelli was responsible for creating an occupation-based assessment for use with both acute psychiatric and eating disorder patient population. 

Prior to her role as academic fieldwork coordinator, Ms. Petrocelli was employed by the Paterson School District where she was responsible for the coordination of district-wide occupational therapy services as well the creation of district-wide therapy policies and procedures.   Ms. Petrocelli has work as an Adjunct for the Kean University Occupational Therapy Department since 2006 where she has taught a variety of courses including Group Development, Clinical Conditions, and Service Learning.  She holds an advanced certificate in the LeDuc method of lymphedema management and has a special interest in mental health issues and sensory integration.  Ms. Petrocelli is a member of WFOT and AOTA. 


Resident Faculty
Laurie MatthewsLaurie Knis-Matthews, Ph.D., OTR
Assistant Professor
Dr. Knis-Matthews has been an occupational therapist in New Jersey for over 17 years now. She has worked with many psychosocial populations across the lifespan including pediatrics, adolescent, adults and geriatrics in various treatment settings such as; hospitals, outpatient settings, group homes, detox units and long term addiction programs.  

After receiving a  bachelor's degree in occupational therapy from Kean College, she continued her studies at New York University where she earned both her master's and doctoral degrees in occupational therapy in 1996 and 2005, respectively. Dr. Knis' s dissertation topic focused on the experiences of substance dependent parents in a yearlong drug treatment program. 

Laurie was employed as an adjunct professor at Kean University and New York University, before beginning full time employment at Kean in 1999. Dr. Knis-Matthews currently teaches a variety of courses in the program related to theoretical guides to practice, research, and psychosocial seminars. In 2012, she was promoted to full professor and became chairperson of the department. Under her leadership, the occupational therapy program has earned a ten year accreditation (the maximum amount permitted), developed an onsite OT clinic and has begun planning the development of an entry level doctoral program.  She serves on numerous educational committees,is a prolific and acclaimed presenter and published author. Many of her research interests focus on the experiences of various vulnerable populations (adults and/or children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, mental illness, addiction). 
Dr. Knis-Matthews is a member of the editorial board of the American Occupational Therapy Association, and served as a member of the guest editorial review board for the International Journal of Occupational Therapy. In 2010 she was honored with the Recognition of Achievement Award for Promoting Scholarship in Mental Health Practice from the American Occupational Therapy Association.Other awards include the Scholarship Award from the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association in 2000, the Award of Merit in Mental Health from the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association in 2000 and the Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching for Faculty, Kean University, 2006.     
Jennifer GardnerJennifer A. Gardner, OTD, OTR
Assistant Professor

Dr. Gardner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Kean University. An alumnus of Kean’s Master of Science in OT program, she has been practicing as a licensed occupational therapist for 11 years. Dr. Gardner earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology at The College of New Jersey (2002) and her Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy (2005) and her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Chatham University (2012). 

Prior to joining the faculty full time, Dr. Gardner served as an Adjunct Faculty member in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Kean from 2007-2010. Her clinical expertise is in the area of serving individuals with mental illness. She worked on an in-patient psychiatric unit in a hospital setting where she evaluated and developed intervention programs to address the needs of children and adolescents. Intervention strategies included helping this population develop age appropriate coping and developmental skills via engagement in purposeful activity and occupations. Additionally, Dr. Gardner has worked with adults with chronic and persistent mental illness and/or substance use disorders in inpatient and partial care settings. In both clinical practice and research, she has explored the use of sensory modulation during occupation-based activities as an evaluative and intervention approach with individuals with mental illness.

Dr. Gardner teaches the following undergraduate and graduate courses: Conditions Across the Lifespan I, Group Development Across the Lifespan, Occupations Across the Lifespan, and Community Partnerships & Service. Dr. Gardner also currently oversees the New Jersey chapter of PARFORE at Kean University. PARFORE NJ (Perseverance, Accountability, Resiliency, Fellowship, Opportunity, Respect, Empowerment) is collaborating with the community of Newark to help teach youth life skills through the game of golf, community activities, and mentorship. She supervises Level II fieldwork students who are assigned to PARFORE's summer camp. Through state and national presentations, Dr. Gardner is an active member of New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association (NJOTA) and American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Claire MulryClaire Mulry, OTD, OTR, CAPS
Assistant Professor   

Dr. Mulry has been a practicing occupational therapist for over 19 years. Dr. Mulry received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University in 1988 and her Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Occupational Therapy from Kean College in 1997. She received her Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) from the National Association of Home Builders in 2009 and her Post Professional Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Quinnipiac University in 2010. In December 2012, she earned her Post Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) from Thomas Jefferson University's School of Health Professions.

Dr. Mulry’s areas of expertise are adult rehabilitation, aging in place, environmental modifications and acquired brain injury.  She has experience in acute care, acute inpatient rehabilitation, sub-acute and geriatric home care. Dr. Mulry, co-founded Independent Domain, LLC in 2003. Independent Domain, LLC provides OT services, home and environmental modification consultations and advocacy services for individuals to age in place.

Dr. Mulry’s passion is to promote meaningful participation and engagement of individuals in their chosen occupations. In an effort to support this aim Dr. Mulry’s research interests include aging and participation, acquired brain injury, interprofesssional care and program development. Dr. Mulry received the Students Partnering with Faculty Grant (SpF) and Foundation Faculty Research Award from Kean University in 2015.  Under these grants Dr. Mulry and a team of student researches implemented her Let’s Go Program to promote community mobility for older adults in seven urban residences. Her students and program were invited to the Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting in 2015.  Dr. Mulry has received the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association’s Presidents Award (2014), Award of Merit (2014) and Service Award (2014, 2012, 2010).    

Dr. Mulry served as an Adjunct Professor at Kean University from 2004-2010 and taught Clinical Conditions II, Adult Physical Rehabilitation Seminar, Administration and Supervision, OT Theory Lab and Introduction to Occupational Therapy.  Dr. Mulry became an Assistant Professor in January 2010 and currently teaches Seminar in Adult Rehabilitation Practice, Introduction to Occupational Therapy, Theoretical Guidelines to Practice I & II and is a research advisor.

Dr. Mulry’s recent publications include:

  • Hreha, K., Mulry,C. M., Gross, M., Jedziniak, T., Lutsky, N., Ohevshalom, L., Sheridan, A., Szabo, G., Davison, C., & Barrett, A. M. Assessing Chronic Stroke Survivors with Aphasia Sheds Light on Prevalence of Spatial Neglect. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation.
  • Mulry, C. M. (2016). Promoting productive aging using an innovative community mobility program. OT Practice, SIS Quarterly Practice Connections, 1, 18-19. 
  • Mulry, C. M. & Piersol, C.V. (2014). The Let’s Go program for community participation: A feasibility study. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, 32, 241-254.
  • Mulry, C.M. (2012). Transitions to assisted living: A pilot study of residents’ occupational perspectives. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, 30, 327-342. DOI: 10.3109/02703181.2012.741190
  • Mulry, C.M. (2012). Reaching beyond clinic walls: Motor vehicle accident prevention. OT Practice, 17, (21) 7-8.
  • Gardner, J., Mulry, C., Chalik, S. (2012). College?: Adolescents with Autism and Learning Disorders Participate in An On-Campus Service-Learning Program. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 64, 257-269. DOI:1-.3109/07380577.2012.720052
Patrick R. Field, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Sciences
Associate Professor
Dr. Field has been teaching gross anatomy and neuroscience at undergraduate and graduate levels, senior seminar, anatomy and physiology, introductory biology and conducting pedagogical research involving the use of case studies in the classroom at Kean from 1997 to the present. His education includes a Ph.D. in anatomical sciences/neuroscience from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, a B.S. in biology education and a B.A. in biological/anatomical sciences. Dr. Field is an active member of numerous professional organizations including, but not limited to: American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, National Science Teachers Association, Society for Neuroscience, New Jersey Academy of Science and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society. His research and scholarly articles have been published in The Journal of College Science Teaching in October 2006, September 2005, February 2003 and October 2002, on the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Website in June 2010 and January 2012, in the HAPS Educator, 2001, and in In Vivo, Journal of Metropolitan Association of College and University Biologists in June 2011. He has presented his research at numerous workshops and conferences and is a dedicated educator and faculty member at Kean University. Dr. Field was also very instrumental in the success of the department's video to promote student membership in the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). He is seen pictured above with first and second year OT students recording for the video at a nearby recording studio.  The department is thankful for the contribution of his time and talent for this project. 
Adjunct Faculty
Michael Camacho, MS, OTR, Dipl. Ac., NJ Licensed, CKTP
M.S. in Acupuncture, Tri-State College of Acupuncture
B.S. in Occupational Therapy, Kean University

Professor Camacho has been an occupational therapist since 1995 and an adjunct professor at Kean University since 2006. His work experience has included both inpatient and outpatient settings, covering a variety of diagnoses, primarily neurologic and orthopedic. Professor Camacho specializes in assessment and treatment of lower and upper extremity amputees, as well as remedial and compensatory treatment during prosthetic training. Professor Camacho currently works at Kessler Institute in Saddlebrook, NJ as a senior therapist. In Kessler, he also works closely with the nursing staff for wheelchair consults, and positioning and transfer inservices. His degree in acupuncture gives him a strong background in pain management which he incorporates into his occupational therapy practice. 

Stephanie L. Blodgett, MS, OTR, CBIS
M.S. in Occupational Therapy, Tufts University
B.S. in Elementary Education, University of Vermont

Professor Blodgett graduated from the University of Vermont with a BS in Elementary Education and a concentration in Special Education and later earned her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University in Boston in 2001. Previously she was employed by the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Manchester, NH, as an Occupational Therapist in the Physical Medicine and Rehab department. Stephanie has been employed with Rehabilitation Specialists in Fair Lawn, NJ, since 2003 and is responsible for evaluation and treatment of adult survivors of brain injury, helping them to achieve maximum independence with ADL, IADL, cognitive functioning, and community re-entry skills. Additionally, Stephanie directs special projects at the day program and supervises the day-to-day operation within the clinical environment. She collaborated with Dr. Loretto Brickfield at Rehabilitation Specialists in instituting several workplace Health & Wellness initiatives aimed at promoting regular exercise, “The Appalachian Trail Pedometer Challenge,” a virtual hike of the Appalachian Trail, during the summer of 2009, and “The Hawaiian Challenge: Hike to Hana,” during the summer of 2010. Her employer is currently one of about a dozen post-acute provider groups in NJ and PA participating in PARF’s (Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities) Outcomes Benchmarking Project, utilizing the Mayo-Portland Adaptability Inventory in evaluating program efficacy for persons served and understanding the long-term outcomes of acquired brain injury. 

Stephanie coordinates the Occupational Therapy student intern program at Rehab Specialists and has served as Fieldwork Educator to numerous Level I and II students throughout her career, supervising student interns from Dominican College, Kean University, NYU, Quinnipiac University, Seton Hall University, Touro College, Tufts University, and University of Scranton. Stephanie is a member of AOTA, NJOTA, BIANJ (Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey), and SCR (Society for Cognitive Rehabilitation). She was one of two recipients of the Rehabilitation Specialists Excellence Award in 2005 and earned ACBIS certification as a Brain Injury Specialist, Level I, in 2006. Additionally, Stephanie was nominated twice by student supervisees for Metropolitan Occupational Therapy Education Council of New York and New Jersey’s “Fieldwork Educator of the Year,” first in 2008 and again in 2009; she subsequently received the award in December 2009. In the spring of 2009 Stephanie was selected from a nationwide pool of applicants to serve for three years as a regional instructor for AOTA’s newly established Fieldwork Educators Certificate Program promoting fieldwork excellence. Stephanie joined the OT Department at Kean University in the fall of 2011 as an Adjunct Faculty member and teaches the Introduction to OT prerequisite course.

Christopher J. Hildeman, OTD, OTR 
OTD, Chatham University
M.S. in Occupational Therapy, Chatham University 
B.S. in Psychology, Pennsylvania State University
Professor Hildeman has been a practicing occupational therapist for 14 years in the acute care and outpatient settings. He is currently employed by an acute care hospital where he serves as the Performance Improvement Supervisor for the rehabilitation department managing rehabilitation outcomes. His health care background began with a BS in Psychology with a heath science option from Pennsylvania State University in 1997. At Penn State he completed a biomechanics internship working with balance systems in the human body. He graduated from Chatham University with a Masters of Occupational Therapy in 1999 completing his Master’s thesis on sensory integration and the use of the Sensory Profile with children with learning disabilities. In 2008 he earned his Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Chatham University completing his capstone project in falls prevention and intervention for hospitalized patients. He is certified in lymphedema management, functional capacity evaluations, and therapeutic modalities. He presented at the 2009 NJOTA conference in falls prevention, served as guest lecturer at Kean University in 2010, and currently serves as an adjunct faculty member.
Patricia Higgins, MS, OTR
M.S. in Occupational Therapy, Tufts University
B.S. in Biology, University of Scranton
Professor Higgins is a senior occupational therapist currently working in inpatient rehabilitation at Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Tinton Falls. She began working at Kean University as an adjunct professor in Spring 2012. She received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Scranton and a M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University. Patricia has been practicing OT for nearly ten years in a variety of settings including: inpatient rehabilitation, day rehabilitation, subacute brain injury rehabilitation, and on the inpatient Brain Injury Unit. She has taken a variety of courses with particular interest in vision, cognitive treatment techniques, neuro-handling techniques, including PNF and NDT, and wheelchair seating and positioning. Professor Higgins has presented at conferences on Stroke, Pusher Syndrome and Parkinson's Disease and acted as a clinical instructor for multiple students. 
Courtney Silviotti, MS, OTR/L
M.S. in Occupational Therapy, Elizabethtown College
B.S. in Occupation and Health, Elizabethtown College

Professor Silviotti is a senior occupational therapist at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in Chester, NJ.  She received her B.S. in Occupation and Health and her M.S. in Occupational Therapy at Elizabethtown College.  She worked for three years at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, before moving to New Jersey and joining Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in 2011.  She has presented at multiple conferences including the Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey state conferences as well as the NJOTA spring meeting with topics ranging from pain management, burn rehabilitation, fieldwork education, and spatial neglect research for evidence-based practice.  She has guest lectured at Kean University regarding amputee recovery since 2013. 

Professor Silviotti is A-ONE certified and currently works with clients in the traumatic brain injury unit.  She has over five years of experience working in the inpatient rehabilitation setting with adults having diagnoses ranging from musculoskeletal disorders, burns, amputations, cardiac disorders, and neurological impairments.  At Kessler, Professor Silviotti is the co-student coordinator at the Chester campus.  In collaboration with the Kessler Foundation Research Center, she is an active participant in data collection and research for a spatial neglect study.  Professor Silviotti is involved with other hospital wide programs including training nursing staff for transfers in addition to meal preparation groups for clients with cardiac disorders.  Professor Silviotti has also presented multiple in-services for staff members with topics ranging from home safety/fall prevention, splinting, modalities, fieldwork supervision, and neurological approaches.
Ilana Unger, MS, OTR
M.S. in Occupational Therapy, Elizabethtown College

Professor Unger earned a Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy, with a minor in psychology, from Elizabethtown College in 2006. She worked at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, NJ through her final fieldwork placement and upon graduating until joining Rehabilitation Specialist in October 2013. Kessler provided Professor Unger with experience in a variety of diagnoses including spinal cord injury, joint replacements, amputees, and ultimately found her specialty in the area of traumatic and acquired brain injuries. She has presented nationally at the 2012 Brain Injury Summit, and has been published in Brain Tumour Magazine as a co-author. 

Working closely by Professor Unger’s side is her facility dog, Rex.  Rex, a graduate of Canine Companions for Independence, is a service trained assistance animal whose role is to assist clients in meeting their goals via Professor Unger’s facilitation. Rex is a friendly, black Labrador Retriever, who looks forward to working with clients every day, be it engaging in a game of fetch to work on motor planning, or just keeping someone company for emotional support. 

Kevin Nelson, OTR, SIPT
B.S. in Occupational Therapy, Kean University

Professor Nelson is a certified, licensed occupational therapist within New Jersey. He graduated with honors from Kean University with a BS in Occupational Therapy in 2002. Professor Nelson is currently working on his Capstone Project and is scheduled to graduate from The College of Saint Elizabeth in May 2016 with a MS in Healthcare Management.

During his time as a clinician, Professor Nelson has specialized in pediatrics, providing school-based, clinic-based, and early intervention services for children between the ages of 3 months to 21 years old. In addition to his vast array of experience in pediatrics, he also provided medically based acute care OT for two local hospitals on a contract basis.

In addition to his work as a clinician, Professor Nelson has discovered a passion for education and training. He has been teaching as an adjunct professor since 2005 and has presented to parents, families, educators, directors, and administrators of school districts and private schools, and the New Jersey Association (NJEA).