Board of Directors
Erin Clemens, OTR/L, BCP, CIMI currently serves as the President of the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association until her term ends in July 2020.
Erin graduated in 2001 from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC and has been practicing as a pediatric occupational therapist ever since in a variety of settings including early intervention, schools, and private practice. She lived in Japan for three years, where her cultural experiences expanded, as she worked as a therapist providing services to both American families and local Japanese families.
Erin moved to Virginia in 2010, where she opened and currently runs a small private practice in Woodbridge, VA. Erin has been actively involved in VOTA since she moved to the state, serving as the Secretary of the Northern District from 2011-2012, and then Co-Chair of the Northern District from 2013-2015. She was President-Elect from 2015-2016 and began her term as VOTA President in July 2016.
Erin was chosen for AOTA’s Leadership and Management Course in 2012 and spent four intensive days at AOTA headquarters learning effective leadership and management skills. Erin is also an adjunct professor for the OTA program at Northern Virginia Community College. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics through AOTA.
On a personal note, Erin is on the PTA at her son’s Chinese school, is actively involved in her community, and is a member of the Education Committee of the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce, Erin enjoys outdoor activities with her family involving cycling, kayaking, hiking, and running.
Erin enjoys serving the Virginia OT practitioners. She brings her knowledge of VOTA proceedings, diverse experience as a therapist, leader, and manager, as well as fresh ideas to promote VOTA further and advance the association to be in line with trends of the profession.
Holly Timberline, M.S., OTR/L
Holly loves a problem - especially when there's an inventive and effective solution! That's why she finds occupational therapy so rewarding.
Holly started OT school after 20 years of raising children, during which time she also worked as a writer/editor and performing arts teacher. Her experiences have transferred well to her practice, giving her strong communication skills and a playful, creative approach to clients. Holly earned her MSOT from VCU in December 2016 and completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in disability leadership this May.
Holly was awarded the Patty Maurer scholarship for the highest ranked incoming applicant when she started OT school. She was awarded the Katherine Lawrence Dragas scholarship during her second year for showing promise in pediatric OT. She received recognition by the Center for Interprofessional Education for promoting interdisciplinary collaboration during her coursework, and was selected by her classmates for the C.A. Kooiman award, for demonstrating creativity, leadership and forward thinking.
During OT school Holly served as VOTA's Student Liaison to the Board for two years. In that capacity, she founded a statewide panel comprised of student representatives from Virginia's OT/ OTA programs and developed a strategic plan for using networks between students, educators, and professionals to support growth and development of Virginia's OTs and OTAs.
Holly would be honored to continue serving VOTA as Vice President. She offers a deep commitment to the association, a genuine passion for the field itself, and a unique perspective that comes from being a "Gen X" -er who went through school with millennial.
Originally from Northern Virginia, Jeanine is a graduate of JMU’s master of occupational therapy program. During her time as an OT student, Jeanine was involved with both VOTA and AOTA, holding various positions within the student occupation therapy association at JMU. Jeanine served as the VOTA Student Liaison, communicating with Virginia OT and OTA programs regarding all things related to the association. Before pursuing a career in occupational therapy, Jeanine worked for a news and media company in Arlington, VA working directly with associations and corporations in the healthcare policy space, which ignited her passion for federal and state level healthcare policy and legislation. Jeanine is kickstarting her career in Lynchburg, VA working in outpatient hand therapy. She is excited to fulfill the role of Secretary to advocate for OT practitioners in the state of VA.
Jacqueline Cherry, M.S., OTR/L
Jacqueline “Jacque” Cherry, M.S., OTR/L, graduated in 2008 from Virginia Commonwealth University Occupational Therapy Master’s degree program. Since then, she has been employed with Sheltering Arms, working on the weekdays at the St. Mary’s Hospital location and PRN at the Hanover Inpatient Rehabilitation site. After five years, she was promoted to the St. Mary's team lead position. Her passion remains above all, providing occupational therapy to the geriatric and cardiac populations. After being an Aunt and playing with her dog, she then spends spare time giving back to the OT community by participating in VOTA.
Blue Ridge District Chair
Capital District Chair
In what has probably become one of the best decisions she has ever made, Bernadette quit her job to go back to school and become an occupational therapist. She graduated from the University of Buffalo’s BS/MS program in occupational therapy in 2013. She now works in adult rehabilitation at HealthSouth of Petersburg and does PRN work at Johnston Willis Hospital in Midlothian, VA. She is currently working towards advanced certification in stroke recovery and has been active on the advisory board for Virginia College. She has served on the board for the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association since July 2014.
Capital District Chair
Cody LaRue- graduated from VCU MSOT program in 2012. Currently working as Senior OT and FW Coordinator at HealthSouth Petersburg and PRN at Colonial Heights Health Care Center.
Paige Johns, OTD, OTR/L
Northern District Chair
I have served with VOTA since 2011. Initially, I co-chaired w/ Melissa Leupp and Erin Clemens respectively. I am a Senior Clinical Peer Reviewer, a corporate held position at Tivity Health. I work remotely 100% from home. I have worked in this capacity for 4 years. I pioneered the OT Spirituality Listserve at Creighton University; I was awarded “Distance Student of the Year” for the 2008-2009 Academic Year at Creighton University; I published an Advisory Opinion Chapter in the 2010 Edition of the Reference Guide to the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics & Ethics Standards. I have been an occupational therapist with 27 years of clinical experience and have the following specialties: Geriatrics, Pediatrics, Women’s Health, Certified Dementia Practitioner.
Leah Sowers is a 2002 graduate of [Jefferson] College of Health Sciences’ Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program. She received her Masters of Occupational Therapy in 2016 from Cabarrus College of Health Sciences in North Carolina. Leah has held various positions within the adult/geriatric rehabilitation setting including staff OTA, business manager of an inpatient therapy department, and director of outpatient therapy services where she assisted in opening the clinic. She is currently Assistant Professor in the OTA Program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences and teaches a variety of courses including Foundations of the Profession, Kinesiology Lab, Assistive Technology, Physical Dysfunction, and Medical Terminology. When not teaching, Leah also enjoys working in OT in skilled nursing and home health environments. Her personal interests include appreciating the outdoors, watercolor painting, knitting, and being among the company of friends, family, and a very spoiled cocker spaniel.
Ave initially received a BS degree in OT from East Carolina University (NC) and her MS in OT from San Jose State University (CA). Her clinical experience has been in adult rehabilitation – initially working at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center (Fishersville), the VA Medical Center (Salem), Carilion Clinic Roanoke Memorial Hospital, (Roanoke - PRN), The Glebe Retirement Community (Daleville - PRN), and with Medical Facilities of America (Roanoke, Salem, Vinton - PRN). After working at the VA Medical Center, she accepted a position as faculty and academic fieldwork coordinator within Virginia’s first accredited OTA Program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences. She currently serves as the OTA program director, previously taught in the BS OT program, and currently co-teaches a MSOT kinesiology course with an OT faculty member. Previously, Ave served as membership chair on the VOTA board, so she is looking forward to returning to the board in her new position - District Co-Liaison, Western District.
Scholarships and Awards
Jan Emerick-Brothers has been a practicing Occupational Therapist for 38 years and counting. Thirty-five of these years have taken place in Virginia! She is currently co-chair of the Scholarships and Awards committee. In the past, she has also held the following positions with VOTA: founder and chair Northern District, Secretary and School System Liaison. In addition, she held the presidency of the Virginia Board of Occupational Therapy, when the first law was passed to protect consumers of Occupational Therapy in Virginia. She thinks of VOTA as "extended" family and is currently working to pay forward all the good things that she has enjoyed over her years with the organization.
Heidi R Hull, OTD, MS OTR/L is originally from Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Gannon University in 2002, continued her education at VCU and received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and graduated in 2004. She then returned for her post-professional OTD to VCU and graduated in 2015. Heidi has spent most of her professional career working in the school systems, private and public. She currently serves as the Lead OT for Albemarle County Public Schools and has a Level 1 Certification in Handwriting Without Tears.
Heidi grew up volunteering at a summer camp for children with disabilities and helping the hippotherapy, so working with people with disabilities is in her blood.
In her spare time Heidi enjoys spending time with her children, reading, and running.
Heidi is excited to join the VOTA in the role of Continuing Education Chairperson. She loves attending and presenting at the annual conference and school symposium; she is excited to learn more about the conference process.
Savanah Howe grew up in Virginia and graduated with her master's degree from James Madison University in 2017. She currently works in acute care and inpatient psychiatry for the University of Virginia Health System. Savanah served as the vice president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association at JMU and upon graduation, received the Mary M. Evert leadership award from JMU faculty. Some of Savanah's favorite occupations include listening to audiobooks and drinking tea, especially in the company of others. Having recently been a student, Savanah is passionate about supporting students and is grateful for the opportunity to do so through raising funds for VOTA scholarships.
Lauren Carter Smith, OTR/L, CBIS
Lauren Carter Smith, OTR/L, CBIS is a float Occupational Therapist and student clinical education coordinator at Bon Secours Mercy Health in Richmond, VA. She is a 2001 graduate of James Madison University and is a certified brain injury specialist. She is a leader in fieldwork education, co-chairing the Virginia Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Council and has been a regional instructor for AOTA’s Fieldwork Educators Certificate Course since 2009. She specializes in adult physical rehabilitation with focused training in utilizing NDT and neuro technologies to enhance client outcomes. She is an advocate to adult survivors of brain injury through her work as the director of Camp Bruce McCoy through the Brain Injury Association of Virginia and volunteers her time as membership chairperson for the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association.
Gretchen is excited to take on the role of Communications chairperson for VOTA. She has been a practicing OT for seven years with a BA from the University of Virginia in English and Biology and an MS in OT from Columbia University. A native of Northern Virginia, Gretchen recently moved back to Manassas from New York City where she worked in the school system and as an early intervention therapist. While in New York, she served on the Board for the Metropolitan District of the New York Occupational Therapy Association. In addition, Gretchen has presented at local, national, and international OT conferences. In addition to membership in VOTA, Gretchen is a member of AOTA and the Association of Caribbean Occupational Therapists. Gretchen is currently working at Grafton Integrated Health Network in Winchester.
Kristin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from William & Mary and taught elementary school before going on to get her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Virginia/MCV (now part of Virginia Commonwealth University/VCU). For many years she divided her time between private practice, early intervention, school system and therapeutic horseback riding. Currently she is the Program Supervisor for Fairfax County Public Schools Therapy Services/PTOT. Kristin also teaches yoga and stays active & outside with her family in Northern Virginia. As a member of VOTA, she has volunteered as the Ethics and Bylaws Committee chairperson since 2015.
School System Liaison
Bridgette has served as the School System Liaison since March 2018. She is a 2012 graduate of UNC Chapel Hill's Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program. Bridgette has worked in both Virginia and North Carolina public schools, as well as pediatric outpatient settings. She is particularly passionate about promoting the value of occupational therapy, providing contextual and collaborative services, facilitating networking and continuing education opportunities for practitioners, and empowering others in the process. Bridgette loves spending time with her family and friends, listening to music, dancing, and exploring the outdoors in her free time.
VOTA Student Liaison
La’Shandra “Elle” Russell is a second year Occupational Therapy Student at Shenandoah University (SU) where she serves on the SOTA Board as the VOTA/AOTA Student Representative. Elle is also completing a Certificate in Early Intervention through Georgetown University. Elle joined VOTA in January 2017 and has been an active member of the Scholarship & Award Committee ever since. She also serves as the President of the Black Occupational Therapy Caucus and as the DC Ambassador for 2020 Mom, an organization advocating for the provision and universal healthcare coverage for maternal mental health services.
Elle is a native of Birmingham, AL and moved to the DC area in 2008 where she worked 8 years as the Certified Low Vision Therapist at the VA Hospital in Washington, DC. With an educational background in Vision Science and Low Vision Therapy, Occupational Therapy provides an opportunity for Elle to continue working in an evidenced-based field, while expanding her reach with regards to communities and populations that could be served.
Dianne Simons, PhD, OTR/L
VOTA Legislative Liasion
James Madison University
NOVA Community College
NOVA Community College
South University - Richmond
VA College - Richmond
2012 - 2016 Michele Stoll
2010-2012 Amanda Leo
2006-2010 Grace Williams
2002-2006 Rebecca Argabrite Grove
2000-2002 Jan Chmela
1998-2000 Judie Smith
1996-1998 Jean Hearts
1994-1996 Chestina Brolier
1993-1994 Sharon Brandenburger
1988-1992 David Hynes
1984-1988 Fran Olsen
1983-1984 Jayne Shepherd
1982-1983 Bette Burton
1981-1982 Valerie Young
1980-1981 Ruth Meyers