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PP-OTD Faculty

Melanie Austin, DOT, MPA, OTR/L, Program Director of PP-OTD

As Program Director of the Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, Dr. Austin is dedicated to fostering innovation and scholarly creativity for clinicians and professionals seeking to make a difference in areas of education, health promotion, leadership, business, and entrepreneurship, at the local, national, and global level. Dr. Austin has been an occupational therapist for over 20 years and has over 10 years of experience teaching in the health professions and occupational therapy. Dr. Austin’s research focuses on addressing well-being, behavioral health and life skills for young adults, students, student-athletes, women, vulnerable, marginalized, and underserved populations. Dr. Austin has collaborated on interprofessional and student-led health promotion research, publications, and funded grants, leading to innovative local and national programs. Dr. Austin’s scholarly work has been featured via several media platforms, including CBSN, American Council on Exercise, The Academic Minute, Working Mother, Science Daily and The St. Louis American. Dr. Austin has utilized her own life experiences to inspire others through her entrepreneurial endeavors; Teens on the Right Track (2001), providing occupational therapy fieldwork student-led wellness and life skills programs for inner city youth, and WellnessTrack, LLC (2007), providing women’s wellness and empowerment life coaching workshops. As a former community and collegiate scholar-athlete, Dr. Austin enjoyed participating in the Penn Relays, Colgate Women’s Games, and as an NCAA Track & Field All American. Dr. Austin enjoys spending time in nature, with family and friends, inspirational crafting, and enjoying good music and great food.

Ann Marie Potter, PhD, OTR/L, Associate Professor

Ann Marie Potter

PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University, Health Related Sciences-Occupational Therapy
MA, University of Southern California, Occupational Therapy
BA, Luther College, Psychology

Office location: SMRC 278
Office phone: (610) 625.7205 

Dr. Potter serves as the program director of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program. She has over twenty years of experience teaching in undergraduate and graduate occupational therapy programs at Elizabethtown College and Florida International University (FIU).  She also served as Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at FIU. She has mentored over 70 students in research that has been presented at the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association and  American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conferences. Dr. Potter’s research explores the impact of cancer on cognition and occupational performance. This work has been presented at the European Society of Oncology Breast Cancer in Young Women International Conference.  She has worked in the following clinical settings: inpatient spinal cord injury, outpatient, home health, skilled nursing and acute care.

Dr. Potter serves as a Legacy Advocate with the Young Survival Coalition and a consumer advocate representative on grant review panels for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Breast Cancer Research Program.  She is a conference proposal reviewer for the American Occupational Therapy Association, an article reviewer for the Australian Journal of Occupational Therapy, and textbook reviewer for FA Davis and Jones and Bartlett.

Sara E. Benham, OTD, MOT, OTR/L, ATP, Associate Professor

Benham Headshot

OTD, Thomas Jefferson University
MOT, University of Indianapolis
BS, Purdue University 

Office location: SMRC  212
Office phone: (610) 625.7207 

Sara has worked for over 13 years as an Occupational Therapist in inpatient rehabilitation, previously at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, and currently at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation in Allentown, PA. Her specialization is in assistive technology and she holds an advanced certification as an Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP) from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). Sara specializes in stroke neuro-rehabilitation through practice, research, and educational outreach.  Sara directs her research in pursuit of how technology may enable clients to increase participation in meaningful occupations. She has peer-reviewed publications on a variety of technological enhancements for performance across the lifespan, including telerehabilitation, virtual reality, electronic tablet technologies, aids for community mobility, 3D printing, and has published a textbook chapter on applications of technology for pediatrics. Sara has presented her work nationally and at the state level for over 25 presentations. In regards to national leadership, Sara serves as the Technology Coordinator for the American Association of Occupational Therapy (AOTA) Rehabilitation & Disability Special Interest Section (SIS), as a reviewer for the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, and serves on the Executive Committee for the Technology in Rehabilitation Networking Group of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM). 

Sara's previous faculty experience includes her role of the Director of Doctoral Projects for the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.  She received the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association's Occupational Therapy Motivator Award in 2018.   

Sonja Burmeister, OTD, MSPA-C, OTR/L, EICP-OT

OTD, Misericordia University 
MSPA-C, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine 
BS-OT, Temple University

Office phone: (610) 909-4051

Sonja Burmeister is an adjunct faculty member in the Master of Science and Post Professional Occupational Therapy programs at Moravian University. Sonja has been passionate about Pediatrics, focusing her career on helping children with special needs since 1996. She continued her education, obtaining an Early Intervention Certification in 2008, then went on to specialize in Pediatric Neurosurgery as a Physician's Assistant. She brings her wealth of clinical knowledge in both Occupational Therapy and Medicine to her teaching.

Beginning in 2003, Sonja established her first business providing multidisciplinary Early Intervention services, which now serves Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery and Berks Counties in Pennsylvania. She then expanded her business portfolio to begin a second practice, providing school-based and outpatient therapy throughout the Lehigh Valley. Sonja is a certified Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule administrator and evaluates, diagnoses and treats children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Sonja has proudly taught at Moravian University since 2019.