STAR Institute Faculty

Renee AllenRenee Allen, MS, OTR/L
Renee has practiced pediatric occupational therapy since receiving her Master’s Degree from Boston University in 2000. Her professional experiences include working in Early Intervention, working with the deaf/blind student population at Perkin’s School for the Blind in Boston, and working in two private sensory clinics. She worked at the STAR Institute from 2008-2011. Currently, she treats children 0-6 in their homes or in her small private home clinic. She is Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT) trained and holds an intermediate certification in the DIR /Floortime Model. She spends her free time hiking, skiing and enjoying Colorado with her husband and two children.

Robyn ChuRobyn C. Chu, MOT, OTR/L
Robyn is founder and director of Growing Healthy Children Therapy Services, located in El Dorado County, California. Mrs. Chu brings over 11 years of diverse clinical experience and a passion for helping others. Mrs. Chu began her career at Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento, and later became the Lead Occupational Therapist for the El Dorado County Office of Education. She has advanced training in Sensory Integration Therapy, completing mentorships and fellowships with Dr. Lucy Jane Miller at STAR Institute in Colorado. Mrs. Chu has spent the last 8 years of her career dedicated to growing her private practice, which is now includes a state-of-the-art, multi-disciplinary therapy practice nestled on 3.5 acres in the Sierra Nevada Foothills and a satellite location in Davis. Mrs. Chu has also serves as a Private Practice Consultant, supporting other growing therapy practices. As the director of Growing Healthy Children, Mrs. Chu has supported many families from around the world and mentored therapists across California. Over the years, Mrs. Chu has taught workshops to parents, teachers, and therapists and has guest-lectured at universities. She is currently on the faculty for the SPD Foundation. She helped standardize the Miller Functional and Participation Scales, the GOAL assessment, and is now working on the SP3D.  Mrs. Chu also serves as a consultant for research teams at UCSF and Stanford. Mrs. Chu recently published a set of 10 Sensory Motor Activity Books to support families and therapists around the world. She also developed “The Gardening Game: A Learn and Grow Kit for OT” in order to encourage motor development and social skills.

Lucy MillerLucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR/L
Founder, STAR Institute

Dr. Miller brings a wealth of research and treatment experience to share with participants, having authored more than 75 articles and two books about SPD and sensory issues. Her nine norm-referenced scales include: Miller Assessment for Preschoolers, Japanese Miller Assessment for Preschoolers, First STEP, Primer Paso, Toddler and Infant Motor Evaluation, Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised, Stoelting-Brief Intelligence Scale, Short Sensory Profile, and Miller Function and Participation scale, the Goal-Oriented Assessment of Life-Skills and the Sensory Processing Three Dimensions (SP-3D). She has received the Award of Merit, the highest award given by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, and the Martin Luther King Jr., Humanitarian Award by the State of Colorado.

Mim OchsenbeinMim Ochsenbein, MSW, OTR/L
Director of Education & Occupational Therapist, STAR Institute for SPD
Mim Ochsenbein, MSW, OTR/L has been a practicing pediatric occupational therapist for over 20 years. She received advanced training in sensory integration (SIPT certification), listening therapy (Therapeutic Listening), feeding therapy (SOS) and infant massage (CIMI). Mim’s work with children and youth has occurred in a variety of settings including early intervention, school based, clinic based, mental health and private practice. She received her MSW in 2012 with an emphasis in non-profit management. Mim’s work as a social worker has included case management, program development, and program management. She has taught both graduate level and professional continuing education courses since 2013. 

Michele PerkinsMichele Parkins, MS, OTR
Michele Parkins is an Occupational Therapist specializing in working with children and families with Sensory Processing and Integration Disorder and challenges in social emotional development at her practice Great Kids Place in New Jersey. Michele is faculty of STAR (Sensory Therapies and Research) Institute. She is also SIPT certified. Michele advocates for all children and families impacted by Sensory Processing and Integration Disorder to help them and others to understand the impact of this disorder on social emotional functioning. She has embarked on a journey to learn more to support children and families by engaging in Certification in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University. She is DIR certified and is faculty of Profectum Foundation where she educates therapists all over the world on social-emotional development and the DIR model. Continuing her advocacy work, Michele is very active on social media and blogs about the impact of sensory processing challenges on regulation, relationships, and social emotional capacities. She also works with local schools and communities to create spaces for sensory lifestyles so all kids can benefit from enhanced sensory motor experiences. Michele is also a mother of two children with sensory processing differences. She uses her real life experiences to help her clients better understand the impact of SPD on family dynamics and relationships and the day to day demands of life with sensory processing differences.

Lisa PorterLisa Porter, OTD, OTR/L
Lisa graduated from Rockhurst University in 1994 with a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. She began her journey with STAR in 2009, when she attended the Level 1 and Level 2 Intensive Mentorship Programs. She then completed a fellowship at STAR in 2010 and 2011, and at the same time started her practice, Sensory KIDS, in Portland, Oregon. Lisa is a PhD candidate at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, where she also completed her post-professional OTD in 2017. Lisa is SIPT and DIR/Floortime certified and has advanced training in SOS Feeding, Integrated Listening Systems, and Yoga Calm. Her research interests include parent training, exploration of parent learning needs, and mentoring in occupational therapy. When Lisa is not working, she finds balance and self-regulation through kettle-bell workouts, backpacking, running, cooking, and traveling. 

Sarah SchoenSarah A. Schoen, PhD, OTR/L
Director of Research, STAR Institute
Dr. Schoen is an occupational therapist with 30 years of clinical experience and a doctorate in occupational therapy from New York University (2001). She completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship awarded by the Developmental Psychobiology Research Group at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Department of Psychiatry, working with Dr. Lucy Jane Miller. During her fellowship, she was awarded the Developmental Psychology Endowment Grant from the William T Grant foundation to study the Sensory Processing Scales, which she is co-developing and researching with Dr. Miller. Dr. Schoen is currently an Associate Professor at the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions and has served on multiple doctoral committees.  She also co-developed and teaches the monthly Advanced Mentorship trainings at STAR Institute. She is certified in Neurodevelopmental Treatment and has advanced training in Sensory Integration Therapy, Therapeutic Listening, and assistive technology. Dr. Schoen received the Recognition of Achievement Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association in 1997 and the Virginia Scardina Award of Excellence from the American Occupational Therapy Foundation in 2011.

Virginia SpielmannVirginia Spielmann, MSOT
Executive Director, STAR Institute

Virginia is a well-travelled speaker, coach and educator on topics including sensory integration, DIR/Floortime, child development and infant mental health. She has conducted trainings in Kenya, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and the USA and leads workshops at international conferences.  

Virginia is a founder and former Clinical Director of SPOT (Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy) Interdisciplinary Children's Therapy Center in Hong Kong, where she led a large and widely respected inter-disciplinary team.

Virginia obtained her BSc in Occupational Therapy in Oxford England (2002) and her Masters in Occupational Therapy from Mount Mary University, Milwaukee (2018). She is a DIR/Floortime Training Leader and Expert and clinical consultant for the Interdisciplinary Council for Development and Learning (ICDL). Her extensive pediatric experience includes children on the autism spectrum, as well as those with Sensory Processing Disorder, infant mental health issues, children from adopted families and those who have experienced developmental trauma.  

Virginia has considerable post-graduate training, she is certified on the SIPT and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis on mental health, with Fielding Graduate University, in Santa Barbara.

Colleen WhitingColleen Cameron Whiting, MS, OTR/L
Colleen has been a practicing school-based occupational therapist since receiving her Master’s Degree from Boston University in 2000.  Her expertise lies in the combination of remedial and compensatory supports for children with sensory processing and regulation issues.  Colleen is passionate about the integration of sensory and relational supports for children. As a clinician, she prides herself on being grounded in engagement with a focus on fun and the goal of improving the quality of life for her students. Colleen has a special interest in working with children who have experienced trauma. She has published two articles in research journals regarding trauma and the role of the school-based occupational therapist. She is SIPT and DIR/Floortime certified as well as trained in the use of Integrated Listening Systems. Colleen is a member of the AOTA School Mental Health workgroup and has led multiple professional development trainings on sensory processing for occupational therapists, parents and educators.


Our Onsite Level 1 Mentorship Faculty