Meet the Faculty
Nicolaas van den Heever, OTD, BOT, OTR/LFounding Dean, Program Director
Nicolaas van den Heever, born in South Africa, obtained his Occupational Therapy degree from the University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town as the first male OT in South Africa. He decided early on in his career to develop professionally as a generalist and gained experience in a variety of settings – the military, rural communities in Africa and China (for the WHO), large psychiatric hospitals and industrial units, orphanages, substance abuse rehabilitation, out-patient rehabilitation, and in private practice – specializing in adult and pediatric neuro-rehabilitation.
He spent the last 30 years in the health care field as a clinician, consultant, rehabilitation director, hospital administrator, in business development and marketing, and as university professor and department chair (University of Western Cape, SA). Besides his international engagements, he has worked for the last 18 years here in the United States, mostly in leadership positions as director of rehab departments, multi-site hospital based clinics and hospital educator. During this time, he obtained his post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate from the University of St. Augustine. He has been an international, national and local speaker on the topics of rehabilitation both for the adults and pediatric population, stroke prevention, stroke and brain injury rehabilitation, which includes functional vision and cognitive rehabilitation, and return-to-driving rehabilitation for the disabled. Besides his work as a consultant in the areas of quality improvement and licensing, accreditation and survey preparation, he developed a lucrative practice in leadership development, customer service training and developing high-functioning teams. Nicolaas is a board member of the California Foundation for Occupational Therapy (CFOT), and an executive board member and regional director for the California Board of Occupational Therapy (OTAC).
Ann E. McDonald Ph.D., OTR/L, SWCAssociate Professor
Dr. McDonald began her career in Special Education with a BA degree in Education, at Arizona State University. She completed her Master of Arts degree in Occupational Therapy in 1987 and her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Occupational Science in 2001, both from the University of Southern California.
Her work with infants, children and adolescents spans diverse settings including: UCLA/Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Childrens Hospital, Los Angeles, school districts, private practice clinics and in-home. Dr. McDonald has published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy in Health Care Journal as well as Occupational Therapy in Mental Health text book.
She has lectured in Occupational Therapy at the local and state levels as well as nationally and internationally. Her leisure pursuits include biking, outdoor adventures with her family and dogs as well as traveling to other countries to better understand cultural influences on child development and occupation.
Diana Gantman Kraversky, OTD, MS, OTR/L, APAssistant Professor
Dr. Gantman Kraversky began her pediatric therapy career as a speech therapist with a Masters of Science in Speech Pathology, Education and Child Development from Minsk State Pedagogical University in Belarus. Later, in the United States, she completed her degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh and a Post-Professional Doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy from the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.
Her extensive, over 15 years, experience of working with infants, children, adolescents, and young adults includes various practice settings, such as the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, the Glendale Adventist Medical Center, private practice, in-home early intervention settings, and school districts. Dr. Gantman Kraversky served as a consultant for the center-based summer intervention programs and therapeutic camps for children with special needs. She developed new occupational therapy programs and specific interventions within various practice settings, such as functional feeding groups, handwriting, and sensory-motor programs.
Dr. Gantman Kraversky worked in the capacity of an occupational therapy coordinator and supervised both administrative and therapeutic staff. She has experience in conducting clinical research and continuing education courses for the interdisciplinary rehabilitation and special education teams. Dr. Gantman Kraversky has presented in occupational therapy at the local level as well as in the state of Pennsylvania and lectured in various higher education programs. Her leisure pursuits include traveling, reading, cooking and hiking with her husband, daughter and a family dog.
Erin Murray, OTD, OTR/LAssistant Professor
Dr. Murray is overjoyed to be at WCU and share her excitement for occupational therapy with students and, ultimately, future colleagues!
Professor Murray obtained her OTD from Creighton University in 2010 and undergraduate degree in OT from Quinnipiac University in 2000. She arrives at WCU after teaching, mentoring and serving on committees within Grossmont College's occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program in San Diego.
In her OT career, Dr. Murray has worked with a diversity of diagnoses and in variety of clinical settings. Her specialties include acute trauma, geriatrics, and hand therapy. She holds California advanced practice certifications in both physical agent modalities (PAMs) and hand therapy (HTC).
A self-described sports nut, Dr. Murray enjoys playing soccer and cheering on her beloved New England Patriots in her free time.
Stacey Willis, OTD, BSOT, OTR/LAssistant Professor
Dr. Stacey Willis obtained her Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2012, and her undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy from California State University Dominguez Hills in 2002. Dr. Willis is an expert in psychosocial occupational therapy treatment, and has been working in community-based mental health for the past 12 years. Dr. Willis has extensive experience in the areas of management, leadership, program development, community integration, fiscal operations, and contract administration.
Dr. Willis served as the Intensive Services Director at the Occupational Therapy Training Program, where she was responsible for overseeing all daily and administrative operations of the Intensive Services Department. This included the oversight of three intensive programs funded by the county of Los Angeles (Wraparound Program, Center for the Assessment of Prodromal States Pilot Program, and the Full Service Partnership Program). Dr. Willis was able to identify, promote, and embed occupational therapy services into various community-based programs. As director Dr. Willis also provided ongoing management, training, and mentorship to an interdisciplinary mental health services team. Dr. Willis remains a consultant for the division.
Dr. Willis has spoken at numerous conferences, and community events emphasizing the importance and vital role that occupational therapy provides in the treatment of individuals living with mental illness.
Dr. Willis is an avid Lakers fan, self-proclaimed movie buff, and enjoys engaging in community outreach, in an effort to inspire youth to strive to reach their fullest potential. She and her husband’s favorite pastime is to cheer on their son and daughter at their numerous sporting events.
Arameh Anvarizadeh, OTD, OTR/LAcademic Fieldwork Coordinator
Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh is an alumna of the University of Southern California (USC), receiving her BS, MA, and Doctorate in Occupational Therapy with a minor in Neuroscience and an emphasis in Ambulatory Healthcare. She is an experienced pediatric therapist who during her time at California Children’s Services (CCS) was responsible for evaluating and treating children living with neuromuscular and orthopedic disabilities. Besides clinical work, Dr. Anvarizadeh was selected to be an intervener for USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy’s Pressure Ulcer Prevention research study. She currently holds leadership positions on both the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) as the Communications Chair and the California Representative for the Representative Assembly, respectively. She is an AOTA Emerging Leader and serves as a member on OTAC’s Advocacy and Government Affairs Committee, as well as, the Centennial Float Committee. Dr. Anvarizadeh is a founding member of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD). As the recipient of OTAC’s Janice Matsutsuyu Outstanding Service Award, Dr. Anvarizadeh was recognized for her significant contributions to the association. An accomplished speaker in both state and national conferences, Dr. Anvarizadeh lectured internationally in 2014’s World Federation of Occupational Therapists’ (WFOT) congress. Besides her current work in academia, her leadership development, clinical experience, speaking engagements, and consulting, Dr. Anvarizadeh serves on the board of Inclusion Clubhouse and Black Women for Wellness. She focuses her efforts on building healthy communities through inclusion, health education, empowerment, and advocacy. This being her passion, she envisions creating sustainable communities through social entrepreneurship and policy using an occupational therapy perspective.
Michael Ang, OTD, OTR/L, CSRS, HTC, PAM, SWC, CKTPAssistant Professor
Michael Ang created and directed the Outpatient Occupational Therapy Program at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. There he implemented evidence-based interventions for clients with neurological and upper extremity conditions. Michael was the first Certified Stroke Rehab Specialist in Los Angeles. He is a Neuro-IFRAH® Certified Therapist, a Saebo Certified Therapist, an Interactive Metronome Provider, and a Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner. Additionally, Michael is approved for advanced practice in physical agent modalities, hand therapy, and swallowing assessment, evaluation or intervention. He has clinical experience in acute care, intensive care, transitional care, inpatient rehab, skilled nursing, assisted living, and home health occupational therapy.
Michael was on the faculty at the University of Southern California for three years where he taught Creativity and Craft Analysis, Therapeutic Use of Self, Communication for Effective Practice, and Adult Rehabilitation. During his time at the University of Southern California, Michael led the faculty in student course evaluation scores, and won the Penelope Louise Richardson award for teaching. Additionally, he created and taught a variety of elective and continuing education courses including Occupation-Based Adult Neurorehabilitation and The Neurorehabilitation Workshop.
Michael enjoys crafting, baking, and spending time with his Maltese, Mochi.
Diane Gale, MBA, OTR/LAssistant Professor, Adjunct
Professor Gale received her BS in OT from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1978, and received her Health Care Executive MBA from University of California, Irvine in 2007. She worked three years in adult rehabilitation, followed by three years in acute care, including Neonatal Intensive Care.
She transitioned to Early Intervention in the schools for seven years as Educational Coordinator prior to beginning her private practice, now located in Irvine, California. Since 1993, her practice included skilled care, home, school, and clinic based interventions with adults and children.
She taught Pediatrics at Wayne County Community College's OTA program (1994-2001) and at University of St. Augustine's MOT program (2009-2012), along with being the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator from 2009-2011. Professor Gale has presented on Pediatrics and Fieldwork at the international, state and local level. She serves as an expert witness in Occupational Therapy in court proceedings when she's not swimming, biking, cooking, or playing with her grandchildren.
Christy Billock, PhD, OTR/LAssistant Professor, Adjunct
Dr. Billock began her occupational therapy professional life in adult rehabilitation. She soon discovered her passion for teaching and was on the faculty at Loma Linda University for 14 years where she taught history, theoretical perspectives on occupation, spirituality, wellness, geriatrics, research, and neuroscience.
She received her Bachelors of Occupational Therapy from Loma Linda University, Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy and a PhD in Occupational Science both from the University of Southern California. Upon graduating from USC she received the Creativity in Occupational Therapy Award as well as the Penelope Richardson Award. Dr. Billock's dissertation research looked at women's experiences of spirituality through occupation. She has presented at numerous national and international occupational therapy and occupational science conferences as well as authored a chapter on personal beliefs and spirituality in Willard and Spackman's Occupational Therapy 11th and 12th editions.
In addition to teaching at WCU, Dr. Billock works as an artist and maker utilizing clay, wood, leather, and wool in her creations. Her husband and two elementary school aged children bring joy and lots of activity to her days. She also actively pursues her leisure interests including hiking, reading, working out, cooking, home improvement and spending time with friends in the mountains.
Janis Lwin, PT, DPT, MTC, FAAOMPTInstructor II, Adjunct
Dr. Janice Lwin is originally from Washington State where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. At Puget Sound, she competed in intercollegiate volleyball which sparked her interest to pursue a career in Physical Therapy. She traveled to Florida to earn her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences and also completed her Manual Therapy Certification.
Although her main passion is Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Dr. Lwin has practiced in many different physical therapy settings during her 11 year career, including neurorehab, geriatrics and pediatrics. In 2012, she completed a year-long Manual Therapy Fellowship through the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists . She has been adjunct faculty for several years, teaching orthopaedics, therapeutic exercise and clinical evaluation and diagnosis at the graduate level. Dr. Lwin is currently working on several journal publications and has presented research at conferences on the National and Regional level.
When not in the clinic or classroom, Dr. Lwin enjoys volleyball, snowboarding, surfing, running and traveling. She coaches her son and daughter’s soccer teams and enjoys getting her kids involved in her sports passions.
Christine Wietlisbach, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, MPAAssistant Professor, Adjunct
Dr. Christine Wietlisbach has more than 20 years experience in occupational therapy practice, education and regulation. She maintains a full-time practice in occupational therapy at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, and is an adjunct faculty member in the master of occupational therapy program at Loma Linda University. Dr. Wietlisbach earned her bachelor degrees in psychology and occupational therapy from Washington University in St. Louis, and her doctorate in occupational therapy with a dual emphasis in hand therapy and administration/practice management from Rocky Mountain University in Provo, Utah. She also holds a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University, San Bernardino. Dr. Wietlisbach is past-president of the Occupational Therapy Association of California, and served two terms as a Governor-appointed member and vice-president of the California Board of Occupational Therapy. Currently, she is a senate-appointee and Chair of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Wietlisbach lectures nationally and has authored occupational therapy textbook chapters in the areas of industrial rehabilitation/ergonomics, physical agent modalities, and wound care for the upper extremity. Her awards include the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Lindy Boggs Political Action Award, and the Occupational Therapy Association of California’s Award of Excellence, Practice Award, and Political Action Award.
Lisa PhillipsProgram Assistant
Lisa Phillips' experience in higher education began in Georgia in 2004. She worked as the assistant to the Department Head of Dental Hygiene at Clayton State University, just south of Atlanta. New opportunities brought Lisa to Southern California, and later, to West Coast University in January 2011.
Mrs. Phillips became part of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in November 2012. She has a passion for working with students in higher education and looks forward to being part of a graduate degree program.
Lisa loves sewing, gardening, college football and animals — specifically her two black Labs, Chihuahua and one white kitty.