Executive Director

ICDL Advisory Board, Colorado State University Affiliate Faculty

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…

Treatment Center

Karalynn Royster, PsyD  joined the Star Institute in 2020 and serves as a Licensed Psychologist on the Mental Health/Family Services team. Dr. Royster is a native of the Midwest but has lived in Colorado for several years. She completed her Masters and Doctoral training at the University of Denver, with a specialty focus in Infant and Early Childhood mental health. She is passionate about working with children and their families, and enjoys working with the families attending Star Institute for programs.  Dr. Royster loves to cook, bake, read, write and spend times outdoors in her free…

Bridget graduated with a Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Scranton in 2010. Her career path includes the Rebecca School in New York City where she developed a passion for children and adolescents with various developmental disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was here that she developed a passion for understanding and following the DIR model Floortime approach, a relationship focused play-based intervention. Bridget holds a certificate as a DIRFloortime® Expert and ICDL Training Leader and dedicates some of her time to training other…

I graduated from the OT program at Boston University in 1999 and then twelve years later received a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of New Hampshire. I work in two district capacities at STAR – I am an occupational therapist specializing in adult and adolescent evaluation and treatment of SPD, as well as marriage and family therapist candidate providing counseling to individuals, couples, and families. I love to travel and to spend time with family and friends – notably my four legged friends Emmie, Sherman and Beau.

Lauren received a Master's of Education in Speech Language Pathology from the University of West Georgia. She has spent her professional career working with children and young adults in clinics, acute care, and home settings. Lauren enjoys taking a whole body approach to speech by addressing the sensory and postural needs of her clients so that their bodies are ready for talking! She has done this using techniques such as Aquatic Therapy, Rhythmic Movement Training, and the Neuronet Learning Program. She has also spent extensive time treating pediatric clients with feeding difficulties and…

Rachel graduated with her Bachelor of Arts from the State University of West Georgia and received her Masters in Education in School Counseling from Georgia State University. Following three years of work as a high school counselor, Rachel served for two years in Burkina Faso as a Peace Corps volunteer, working in the sector of Girls’ Education and Empowerment. Prior to coming to STAR Institute, Rachel worked in community mental health with families of children and teenagers who were in the foster care, adoptive, juvenile or truancy court systems. This multi-faceted work included…

Kayla began her journey as an occupational therapist after volunteering at a relationship based school in Atlanta, Georgia. She served individuals with sensory-motor, communication, and learning differences. She later went on to work at the school, as she simultaneously completed her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Brenau University. During her schooling, Kayla also volunteered at an equine assisted therapy program. Prior to working at STAR Institute, Kayla worked in a multi-disciplinary, collaborative team at a nationally recognized children’s hospital. 

Kayla has…

Carrie received her Master of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from The University of Arizona in 2004. Prior to joining STAR Institute, Carrie worked in Southern California and practiced in several different pediatric settings including a multidisciplinary SPD clinic, public schools, a hospital-based mental health treatment program, and private practice clinics.  She served as an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) specialist and has experience developing and running social skills programs.   Carrie has taken the University of Southern California Advanced Training…

Vincentia graduated from West Virginia University in 2007, with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Health & Performance, & a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. She has extensive training in Sensory Processing Disorder treatment including Level 1, Level 2, and Research Mentorship programs with the Star Institute, Level 1 SIPT Trained, as well as a Sensory Processing Level 1 Proficiency certificate through Temple University.Vincentia has also received continued education training in Integrated Listening Systems, treating Central Auditory Processing Disorders, SOS feeding approach,…

Lindsay began her relationship with STAR ​Institute in 2006 as a volunteer where her passion for sensory ​processing grew. She completed her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy at Tufts University and her undergraduate degree at the University of Puget Sound. She has extensive training in sensory and play-based therapy, autism, feeding disorders, and sound therapy (iLs). Lindsay runs and presents ​STAR’s Community Workshop series and is ​one of STAR's Lead Occupational Therapist​s for the clinical team. As a Colorado native she enjoys all the outdoor activities the mountains offer-…

Mary Beth received a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science from High Point University and then she went on to receive a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Belmont University. Prior to joining STAR Institute, Mary Beth built her career in her own way, living in Tennessee, Texas, California, Alaska, and Colorado, where she worked in school systems, private clinics, and hospital settings. Mary Beth serves on the board of Eleanore’s Project, a non-profit focused on improving the quality of life for children with disabilities and their families in Peru. Mary Beth has also received…

Dr. Courtney McDonnell is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Colorado. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to earn her Master’s degree and Doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Denver. She completed her pre-doctoral training at the Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families in Camarillo, CA and her post-doctoral training at Atlanta Psychological Services in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. McDonnell comes to the STAR Institute with extensive experience working with children and their…

Maura graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in psychology from North Carolina State University and a Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy from Winston-Salem State University. Prior to her work with the STAR Institute, Maura worked one-on-one with children, adolescents, and young adults with a wide range of disabilities and/or delays, including rare genetic disorders, Down Syndrome, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. In 2009 and 2010, Maura completed research internships with the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation co-located with the STAR…

Katie received a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and Equine Science from Colorado State University.  She went on to earn her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from Pacific University in Portland, Oregon.  While in school, she completed one of her fieldwork experiences at Sensory Kids, an outpatient pediatric clinic that utilizes the STAR method, and received training from Lisa Porter, a STAR Institute Faculty Member and owner/director of Sensory Kids. Katie quickly realized her passion for working with children with Sensory Processing Disorder and the relationship-focused, play-based…

Consultants

Jackie Bartell, M.Ed., has been working in the field of special education for over 30 years. She has worked with special needs children in a variety of settings, including both private and public schools, as well as consulted with families in their homes. She draws on her experiences, that include work with Stanley Greenspan and Serena Weider, with insights that help professionals and parents to understand the relationship they have with their child and how to apply the DIR model within a home or school setting.

As an expert training leader for ICDL, she provides online and in-…

Throughout over 25 years as a speech-language pathologist, Jennifer has developed extensive knowledge and experience in the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and has presented at the state and national levels.

Her clinical experience in the public schools, private clinics, early intervention programs, and community-based adult workshops and group homes, informs and drives Jennifer’s interests in developing the communication and language abilities of children and adults with complex communication needs. As a result, Jennifer appreciates the unique perspective…

Mariah Person joined STAR Institute in 2020 excited to partner alongside STAR Institute's commitment to social, occupational and disability justice.

Mariah is an aspiring dance movement therapist with a passion for helping people to heal and develop through movement, and advocating for the significance of stimming for health and wellness. Mariah creates accessibility conscious curriculum for their dance/creative movement students and collaborates to create "autistic space" events.

Mariah received their official autism diagnosis at the age of 25, in July 2019. Mariah's…

Kieran Rose is a published Writer and International Public Speaker whose essays at www.theautisticadvocate.com have been read by over a million people and cited in numerous research papers.

With a background in Education and service delivery, Kieran delivers his own specialist Autism training to families and Professionals and provides private consultancy for charities and organisations across the world that support Autistic children, adults and their families. An experienced international public speaker, Kieran regularly…

Dr. Kay Toomey is a pediatric psychologist who has worked for nearly 30 years, with children who don’t eat. She is the developer of the highly effective, family-centered SOS Approach to Feeding in successful use worldwide to assess and treat children with feeding problems. In addition to being a Clinical Consultant for the Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute, Dr. Toomey speaks nationally and internationally about her approach. She also acts as a consultant to Gerber Products. Dr. Toomey helped establish The Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oral Feeding Clinic in Denver and Rose Medical Center’s…

Education Center

Mim Ochsenbein, MSW, OTR/L has been a practicing pediatric occupational therapist for over 20 years. She received her BSc in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 1996 and her MSW from the university of California-Los Angeles in 2012 with an emphasis in non-profit management. She has received advanced training in sensory integration (SIPT certification, SPD ProCert1, SPD ProCert2), listening therapy (Therapeutic Listening, iLs), feeding therapy (SOS), DIR and infant massage (CIMI). Her work in occupational therapy with children and youth has occurred in a…

Caraly has been with STAR Institute since 2008, starting out as administrative assistant and then serving as executive assistant to Dr. Lucy Miller for several years. Caraly’s responsibilities now include orchestrating logistics and communications for all of STAR Institute’s education programs, including annual Symposia, SOS Feeding Conferences, Intensive Mentorships, School-based Intensives, workshops, webinars, and online learning programs. A Colorado native, Caraly received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Metropolitan State University in Denver and has nearly 20 years' experience…

Research Center

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…

Andrea Valdez graduated from Metropolitan State University with a Bachelors in Psychology with an emphasis in research in 2015. She started as an intern with STAR Institute in 2013 and has since taken on the role of Senior Research Assistant, working closely with Dr. Schoen and Dr. Miller. She has her hand in many projects, but takes a lead role in research involving the Sensory Processing Three Dimensions Scales. With the intent of attending graduate school to become an Occupational Therapist, she hopes to someday be an OT at the STAR Institute. 

Marketing

Operations

Andrea will be your personal guide into STAR Institute’s treatment program. In most cases, she will be the staff member to respond to your inquiries when you contact us. She will review your developmental history form and make recommendations about how to proceed. She conducts intake evaluations and helps coordinate programs for families coming to STAR Institute from out of town. Andrea has managed therapy clinics since completing her college degree in management and marketing.

Front Office Team

Founder