Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT)

Core Faculty

Stacey Willis, OTD, BSOT, OTR/LDean & Program Director

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.

Heather Thomas, Ph.D., OTR/LAssociate Professor

Dr. Heather Thomas, Professor of the Occupational Therapy in the Doctorate and Masters in OT program has a long history of working in occupational therapy education. Prior to becoming a full time faculty member and curriculum coordinator during the inception of the program in 2013, she taught at Loma Linda University for 10 years.  Dr. Thomas has presented at international, national and state conferences, and has been involved in providing OT services in Haiti since the devastating earthquake in 2010.

Dr. Thomas has served in a variety of leadership positions with the Occupational Therapy Association of California, the Los Angeles OT Leadership Forum, the city of Los Angeles, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. She is the author of the top selling activity analysis text book "Occupation-Based Activity Analysis" which is used across the world, and has authored chapters in multiple textbooks.  Dr. Thomas is the winner of the 2015 WCU Outstanding Service award, 2016 Occupational Therapy Association of California Award of Excellence and the 2018 WCU Occupational Therapy Faculty of the Year award.

Christy Billock, PhD, OTR/LCurriculum Coordinator, Professor

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 with her MA she received the Creativity in Occupational Therapy Award and the Penelope Richardson Award for her PhD. 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, 12th, and 13th editions.

In addition to teaching at WCU, Dr. Billock is an artist and maker utilizing clay, wood, leather, and wool in her creations.  Her husband and two teenage children bring joy and 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.

Arameh Anvarizadeh, OTD, OTR/LAcademic Fieldwork Coordinator
Assistant Professor

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.

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.

Michael Ang, OTD, OTR/L, CNS, CSRS, CBIS, HTC, PAM, SWC, CKTP, CAPS Associate Professor

Michael Ang created the Outpatient Occupational Therapy Program at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he specialized in treating neurological and upper extremity conditions. He was the first Certified Stroke Rehab Specialist in Southern California, and has advanced practice certification in hand therapy, physical agents, and swallowing interventions. He has clinical experience treating adults in acute care, intensive care, transitional care, inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, skilled nursing, assisted living, and home health therapy. 

In 2018, Michael won a RAISE award (Raising Awareness in Stroke Excellence) with the National Stroke Association, and presents on a variety of neurological topics across the nation. He is the originator of the CNS (Certified Neuro Specialist) Method, and works closely with The Neuro Specialist Institute. Michael is a former professor at the University of Southern California, where he created a number of courses related to stroke and brain injury. At West Coast University, Michael teaches Occupations in Practice and Preparatory Methods I and II.

Danielle Friberg, OTD, OTR/LAssociate Professor

Dr. Danielle Friberg is a licensed occupational therapist specializing in pediatric practice. She graduated from the University of Utah with her Master's in Occupational Therapy in 2011 and her Post-Professional Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy in 2017. She also received her Higher Education Teaching Specialist certificate in 2017 through the University of Utah's Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Her doctoral research focused on the use of family-centered practices in early intervention when addressing the sensory needs of children with autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Friberg has previously worked in early intervention, NICU follow-up, and outpatient pediatrics, which afforded her the opportunity to gain experience with a wide range of diagnoses and ages. In addition, she has experience working in school-based settings and enjoys community-based program development.​

Dr. Friberg arrives at West Coast University after serving as an adjunct faculty member in the University of Utah's Division of Occupational Therapy for four years, where she taught the Foundations of Pediatric Practice and Pediatric Skills courses.  She served as the Occupational Therapy core faculty member for the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) program, where she provided mentorship and support to occupational therapy trainees and offered didactic seminars related to evidence-based practice. She continues to provide consultation to the URLEND program since her relocation to the Los Angeles area.​ Dr. Friberg is passionate about training and mentoring future occupational therapy colleagues, interdisciplinary care, and early identification and treatment of developmental delays and neurodevelopmental disabilities. 

Dr. Friberg enjoys spending time with her husband and two beagles, going to Zumba and other fitness classes, cooking and trying new restaurants, and exploring the Los Angeles area.

Manisha ShethAssistant Professor

Dr. Manisha Sheth obtained her Post Professional clinical Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy from the Boston University, MA in 2016. Her doctorate research was focused on how does non-pharmacological occupational therapy interventions improve sleep in clients who undergo fast track joint replacement surgery.

Dr. Sheth has worked as a clinical specialist and lead OT for Comprehensive Joint Replacement Center at Norwalk Hospital, CT for past 16 years. Dr. Sheth is NOMAS (Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale) licensed professional for past 11 years. Her extensive, 30 years experience of working with adult and older adult populations includes various practice setting such as acute care, acute rehab, skilled nursing facility and home health.

Prior to teaching at West Coast University, Dr. Sheth served as an adjunct faculty at Dominican College, NY for 2 years. Dr. Sheth has spoken at numerous state and national conferences and has written a chapter about sleep disorders in breast cancer survivors in the book titled “The little book for menopause: Living with the challenges of breast cancer.” Dr. Sheth has been passionate about health promotion and wellness programs focusing on sleep hygiene for older adults.

Dr. Sheth has travelled extensively across North America, West Europe and South East Asia. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, cooking vegetarian world cuisines, and exploring Southern California.

Zipporah BrownCommunity-based Fieldwork Instructor

Dr. Zipporah Brown is the Community Based Fieldwork Instructor of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate and Masters in Occupational Therapy Program at West Coast University in Los Angeles. She obtained her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree from West Coast University in 2016 and began her occupational therapy career in adult rehabilitation working in the home health setting. Dr. Brown quickly identified her passion for mental health, specifically community based and went on to pursue her Post-Professional Clinical Doctorate from the University of Southern California (USC), graduating in 2018.

While studying at USC, Dr. Brown’s doctoral capstone project focused on increasing quality of life through leisure exploration and social participation for formerly homeless individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Her research and scholarly knowledge was demonstrated through program development, implementation and outcome analysis. Additionally, while at USC, Dr. Brown cofounded and was president of the first student run diversity and inclusion organization within the occupational therapy department and continued her advocacy efforts by presenting on strategies to increase diversity and inclusion in academic programs at the national level.      

Dr. Brown is passionate about eliminating the negative stigma related to mental health through education, exemplifying occupational therapy’s role in community mental health through research and promoting diversity and inclusion within the profession through advocacy. Dr. Brown continues to gain clinical experience through program development and intervention implementation in various psychosocial settings.

Dr. Brown enjoys spending time with close family and friends, traveling, reading, attending concerts and speaking about mental wellness on various platforms.

Adjunct Faculty

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.

Bryant EdwardsAssistant Professor, Adjunct

Bryant Edwards earned his Masters of Arts and Occupational Therapy Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and his Masters of Public Health from The Ohio State University.  Having spent the entirety of his occupational therapy career working with children and adolescents, he is Board Certified in Pediatrics through the American Occupational Therapy Association.  Dr. Edwards is currently the Occupational Therapy Manager at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, overseeing a staff of over 50 occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and therapy aides.  In addition, he has served as a consultant for school districts and therapy agencies.  His volunteer leadership has included serving as the Secretary for the Occupational Therapy Association of California for 4 years, and he is currently the Vice President of the Association. He has served as adjunct faculty at West Coast University since 2016.​

Jennifer Mele, OTD, OTR/L, CCM, RYTAssistant Professor, Adjunct

Jenna Mele, OTD, OTR/L, CCM, RYT, worked in long-term care, assisted living, and retirement homes. She was featured on Seniors Flourish, an older adult podcast, currently works in home health, is building her private practice, and teaches at both West Coast University and CBD College. She volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles and is the chair of Los Angeles Occupational Therapy Leadership Forum. While focusing on integrating yoga into the pediatric setting during her doctorate work, her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her career focus shifted from children with developmental delays to adults living with cognitive declines. She brought her passion for wellness and health to her work with people experiencing cognitive declines. Dr. Mele has worked directly with the aging population for the past nine years and specializes in facilitating quality of life for people living with dementia. She currently uses her backgrounds as an occupational therapist, care manager, certified consultant in Positive Approach to Care, and yoga teacher to engage clients and maximize their quality of life.  

Sergio Sandoval, OTD, OTR/LAssistant Professor, Adjunct

Dr. Sergio Sandoval is Assistant Professor of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate and Masters Programs at West Coast University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Marketing and Management from California State University, Northridge. He worked in project and personnel management for 10 years before returning to graduate school to pursue occupational therapy. Dr. Sandoval graduated from the University of Southern California with a Masters and Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy. His doctoral researched focused on healthcare policy and administration, and the patient experience in healthcare systems. During his time at USC, Dr. Sandoval severed as Research Assistant in the Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Department where he played an integral part in a feasibility research study that served as a basis for The Resilient, Empowered, Active Living With Diabetes (REAL Diabetes) randomized controlled trial to improve glycemic control and quality of life among young adults with diabetes using an occupational therapy intervention. He also discovered his passion for teaching while at USC, serving as a Lab Instructor for graduate courses in Kinesiology and Neuroscience.

Dr. Sandoval is currently a practicing clinician and maintains a caseload in outpatient and inpatient settings, including acute rehabilitation and intensive care units. He has several years of experience working with adult populations treating both neurological, orthopedic, and upper extremity and hand conditions. He holds several specialty certifications at the state and national level, including hand therapy (HTC), physical agent modalities (PAM), stroke rehabilitation (CSRS), swallowing assessment and intervention (SWC), and soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). Dr. Sandoval is currently pursuing the Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) certification and has met requirements to sit for the examination. He is passionate about working with adult populations in the areas of neurological rehabilitation and hand therapy. His leisure pursuits include hiking with his two dogs, traveling, cooking and exploring new restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

Staff

Lisa PhillipsProgram Manager

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. She has a passion for working with students in higher education.   Mrs. Phillips became part of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in November 2012 when the program was in the developmental stages.

Mrs. Phillips was given the nickname "Momma Lisa" by the inaugural MSOT cohort for being so involved in their journey and a source of encouragement.  Her true joy and passion is helping students become the professionals they are meant to be.  Lisa says she especially enjoys working with Occupational Therapy Faculty and students because "they make me laugh every day." 

Lisa loves sewing, gardening, stained glass, college football and animals — specifically her fur babies.

Teresa CisnerosAcademic Fieldwork Administrative Assistant

Teresa Cisneros is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Los Angeles in 2015. She obtained her B.A. in Business Communication and B.S. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University (ASU). Teresa has worked in higher education since 2013 when she worked for the Graduate Education Office at ASU as a Student Support Specialist. There she was able to help graduate students with the application process and later transitioned into a Format Advisor assisting students with their thesis and dissertations.

Teresa became part of the Department of Occupational Therapy in May of 2016. She enjoys working with students and building partnerships with fieldwork sites.

On her spare time, Teresa enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the movies, and party planning.

Brittany CrowAcademic Fieldwork Administrative Assistant

Brittany Crow received her Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication at California State University of San Bernardino in 2015. Her experience in higher education developed at the Art Institute of Orange County California in 2016, where she was an Assistant Director of Admissions. While holding her previous title, she gained the passion for guiding each student in their desired career path.

Brittany joined the West Coast University team in December 2018, and is excited to continue working at a University. Brittany enjoys spending time with her family and friends on weekends, trying out different restaurants and going on getaways

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